A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Claudia Kozub, a talented Auckland-based interior and lifestyle stylist. With over 15 years experience, Claudia has her own company Style etc and is a regular contributor to NZ House & Garden, Life & Leisure and several other publications. She also styles weddings and events, and is now about to embark on a new and exciting venture, with the opening of Indie Home Collective, a furniture and homewares store in Nuffield St, Newmarket.
During that first meeting with Claudia, I was very lucky to have been given a sneak peek of the store, which at that point was in the early stages of renovating. Blown away by the sheer size of the space, I cannot wait to see the transformation, which will no doubt reflect Claudia's incredible style and love of white Scandinavian interiors, organic loveliness and boho cool.
So inspired by Claudia's passion and free-spirited approach to life and work, I was eager to ask her some questions, especially in the exciting lead up to the launch of Indie Home Collective. Not only has she answered them for us, she enlisted the help of her sister, photographer Eva Kozub to take beautiful photos of her work and home.
Have you always lived in Auckland? What do you love about living here?
I was born in Poland and have lived in Auckland since I was six years old. I love the fact that I can be having brunch in anyone of the great cafes that have opened up in the city and 20 minutes later (in either direction) I could be on a beautiful beach taking my dogs for a walk. We’re so lucky to have such amazing contrast.
Can you tell us about your background and how you ended up becoming a stylist?
I studied costume design but my first job was merchandising in a furniture store which I absolutely loved so have carried on down the interiors/lifestyle path ever since.
What has been your favourite styling project so far, and why?
That’s so hard to answer, I feel like I’m constantly working on fantastic styling projects. Having said that I really enjoy the fast paced nature of commercial work and pushing the boundaries in terms of what I’ve done before. And with weddings I love the fact that I get to work with brides to create something personal and intimate, and the locations can be pretty amazing too! Oh and I get to work with lots of pretty flowers!
You're passionate about flowers - tell us a bit more about that area of your work...
Working with flowers is amazing, I use them in a lot of my editorial shoots and also my event/wedding side of my company. I love the textural element that flowers can add to a shoot and in weddings I love how the scent of flowers adds a sensory element to the event. Nothings adds to the memory of an event like walking into a beautiful receptions that’s filled with flowers.
Your new furniture and homeware store, Indie Home Collective is due to open this week. What can we expect to see?
We’re creating a visually beautiful space that is filled with furniture (both new and vintage), homewares, jewellery, candles, lighting, fresh market flowers plus more.
It’s a place where you can come and set your whole living space, pop in to buy a gift or pick up your weekly bunch of flowers. Or just come in and enjoy looking at all the beautiful things. It will constantly evolve.
How would you describe your personal style and how is this reflected in your own home?
I would say my general style is eclectic with an organic twist. At home it’s clean, modern, industrial with an organic eclectic twist. I love to collect lots of interesting bits and style them against quite a clean palette. At the moment our house is very white. We love it, it’s amazing how bright it feels on a very dark winters day. I love how white can give such a feeling of space and light.
I work with a lot of colour which I love but it’s refreshing to come home to a clean white palette. I find it relaxing. I get the best of both worlds, I get to play with colour at work, and get to relax in my white sanctuary. I try and bring in as much nature into a space in a subtle way. I let it just melt into the interior so it looks like it’s just part of a setting.
What do like to do for fun, outside of work?
Gardening (I can spend hours at a garden centre, I love being around nature), hanging out at the beach - sometimes it’s for walks with our dogs other days it’s leaning how to surf (well more like knee surf at this stage). I meditate and do yoga every day which keeps me grounded, and I read most days. Even if it’s only a couple of pages, I like to learn new things.
I cook a lot. I’m always creating new recipes and we’re just about to set up our organic vegetable garden which I’m pretty excited about. I can’t wait to cook with my own veggies and herbs etc.
What inspires you... travel, other creatives, magazines, the web etc?
Yes definitely, travel is a big inspiration. Although sometimes I don’t think you have to go far at all. I think the biggest inspiration can be when you sit still and just take in what’s around you. There are so many amazing blogs I follow out there that I love (The Design Chaser being one of them). Also Pinterest. I avoided it for a long time and now I’m hooked. And of course interiors magazines.
What advice would you give to those who want to pursue a creative, freelance career?
Just do it! Follow your heart and believe you can do anything. I don’t believe in limits. I believe we are constantly evolving and that we create our own futures, so let yourself be a free spirit and try anything your heart desires. It’s really amazing how things will fall into place.
Sincere thanks to Claudia for participating in this interview, especially while juggling work and the mammoth task of setting up shop! If you're in Auckland, join me in visiting the store when it opens this weekend, at 51 Nuffield St, Newmarket, and make sure you 'like' the Indie Home Collective Facebook page. You can also follow Claudia at Style etc and on Pinterest.