With aesthetic you could pick out of a line up, Kirsty Halliday and Stuart Truesdale are guarenteed to be the most exciting creative force coming out of Scotland right now.
Intoxicated by good lighting, pop culture and finding the beauty in the ordinary, I'll Be Your Mirror have already become icons in art direction and style. From dirty grunge to polished and glossy, IBYM have raw talent for pulling killer looks and locations, serving ultra cool vibes to every brand they touch and image they create. We grabbed on half of the power couple to get the low down on how they got here and advice for creatives who want to follow in their footsteps. Being me when I say, this is a goody...
Hey Stuart! Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
Annoyingly it's one of those "what don't we do?" answers. We launched I'll Be Your Mirror three years ago, originally pitching ourselves as editorial stylists. As the jobs came and the business grew we found ourselves taking on more and more aspects of a project and have evolved into an agency that offers a range of services from styling to full creative production.
As well as editorials we now work on lookbooks, campaign imagery, music videos, catwalk shows, TV adverts, short films- you name it, we do it! We wear plenty of hats - stylists, art directors, producers, art department, set designers. Our dream clients are the ones that let us take full control of a job; building a team, scouting locations, developing a concept, directing the shoot, selecting the final images...We like to be as involved in as much of a job as we possibly can be. We've developed a really strong aesthetic that has led to some amazing brands giving us free reign to deliver them the I'll Be Your Mirror vision of their collection.
SS18 Campaign for @roxjewellery... Production/Art Direction/Styling: @ill.be.your.mirror Photography: @richardgaston Model: @llizakk @lindenstaub Set Design: @hollyhmiddouche Hair: @paddymcdougall Makeup: @shaun.lavender Videography: @clubhouseparadiso Assistants: @giulzedgar @cat_taurus_law @chloebrisbanee
We can totally see what you mean! How did you get into this business?
I took the long route! After graduating uni I, for want of a better word, dossed about for a good six years or so - bar work, call centres, the usual suspects. After finally getting my act together I looked for opportunities in Glasgow that would get my toe in with the creative community and interned at Che Camille for six months, which is where Kirsty and I met.
Camille's was the ideal place for me to be at that point as she had fingers in so many pies. I'd be helping out in the shop one minute and then helping plan a fashion show the next, nipping into the studio to help a designer with an order and then cleaning the windows. my attention span is notoriously short so being in such a frenetic environment was amazing! Kirsty poached me from Camille's and I joined the team who launched Belstaff in Glasgow. We instantly connected and straight away knew there was more in store for us. From Belstaff we both moved to the Prada Group and launched the first Prada and Miu Miu stores in the UK, outside of London. Prada was a dream to work with and getting right into the nuts and bolts of such an iconic brand taught me so much about maintaining a vision and aesthetic, never compromising.Every detail was considered and thought out...who knew there could be an ‘on brand’ way to arrange a stationary holder??
After five years at Prada and seven years of “we need to start a business” conversations we finally plucked up the courage to launch I’ll Be Your Mirror and havent looked back!
YAAAS! It all was meant to be then. But as far as yourself goes, what's been your general career path?
Probably best described as zig-zagging from pay-cheque to pay-cheque until I started at Che Camille, where things started falling into place. Everything has been a learning curve but there's defo a few moments on my CV that don't quite make sense! None the less, there was something to be learned in every job I've had that still gets put to good use today.
If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing?
Genuinely - who knows?? I'd like to think I would have worked further up the ladder at Prada but that would have meant leaving Scotland which was never really on my agenda. Direction and life-planning has never been my strong point!
Do you have a life motto / mantra?
My Papa saved his family business back in the day by literally forcing himself into the office of a client who he knew could turn things around. Every meeting request had been refused or ignored so he turned up at this mans office one day and tried to sweet talk his secretary, who was having none of it. Just as he was about to leave, the must-have client’s office door opened and my Papa whipped his flatcap off, threw it through the door and with a "whoops, I dropped my hat" ran in to pick it up, essentially cornering his prey and (somehow!) winning the contract. So, 'just throw your hat in the door' is something I often tell myself...find a way to get where you need to be.
THAT. IS. AMAZING. You're Papa certainly seems like a bit of a legend!!
So tell us, take us through a typical day. What time do you get up at?
I've perfected the art of the 20 minute morning routine - so 20 minutes before I need to leave the flat, after a healthy dose of snooze-buttoning! Everyday at IBYM is different (cliche klaxon!) so there's no real routine to our days. Sometimes we get to have a relaxed day brainstorming idea or location scouting at our leisure, other days we’ll be having a meltdown about an urgent parcel that needed to be on set 45 minutes ago.
If we're not on set we'll meet at around 10am and work on pitches, proposals, moodboards, invoices, research potential new clients, update our portfolio - all the day to day things that make I'll Be Your Mirror work. There's such a variety of tasks that we can both throw ourselves into different things and not come up for air until lunchtime - we always stop for lunch!!
If we're on a shoot its much more regimented - usually a 9am call time but as we are more often than not running the set we'll be on the go from about seven, making sure we are there to greet the team, dealing with any issues that may arise, keeping everything on schedule and making sure everyones day is as easy and smooth as possible. All whilst frantically steaming clothes, putting looks together, briefing the model on what the client wants from them - like I said, we wear a lot of hats and they are all used on set!
It's all about the hat's eh? How do you keep yourself organised?
Notepads and google drive! I had an amazing manager at Prada, Christina, and one of the many words of wisdom and advice she passed on to me was that a notepad was probably something I should invest in - I think I'd forgotten something she'd asked me to do for the 12th or so time. Lists, sketches, meeting notes - I try and get everything down. Even if something never gets looked at, knowing it's written down ~somewhere~ is a safety net and I think the actual act of writing information solidifies it in my brain. And where would we be without google drive??? Having every piece of information we have ever put together accessible at anytime has been a lifesaver on so many occasions!
Do you have an idol?
I'm more of a guilty pleasure kinda guy - currently loving the Paris Hilton revival!
How do you keep yourself going through a humpday?
If I’m feeling demotivated you’ll find me in The Barras...I have some really good friends with studios there so I’ll slink over and distract them with coffee and gossip.
Biggest misconception about the job you do?
That its all shopping, shopping, shopping! A big part of what we do is 'buying' clothes but the work that goes into getting to that point - developing a look, researching options, getting them cleared by the client, finding possible alternatives, keeping on budget - means the actual buying days are about as far removed from nipping down Buchanan Street with your friends as you could get. Also, that pesky fashion calendar means we're usually hunting for rainwear in June and bikinis in November...not fun!
How do you wind down?
I don’t know how but at some point I fell down the beauty guru rabbit hole on youtube and can’t get out so there’s that, some truly awful TV, cooking, hanging out with my nieces and travelling with my partner.
What's your favourite thing about what you do?
Working with my best pal and seeing her, myself and our agency flourish is massively rewarding. My career history (in hindsight) kinda proves that working for 'the man' was never really for me and being my own boss feels like such a natural fit. Taking a client’s brief and delivering something that they fall in love with gives me such a rush...I know it’s a phrase that makes people roll their eyes but what we are doing really doesn’t feel like work...I love I’ll Be Your Mirror and everything it brings to our door.
Any advice for someone who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Reach out to people you admire and start a conversation...ask for advice, an internship, or if they want to shoot with you. One scroll through instagram and you can find photographers, hair stylists and makeup artists all looking to create beautiful images - pull a team together and get shooting! Our first editorial was shot in Kirsty's bedroom, on a camera she had no idea how to use but it gave us something to put in our portfolio and the confidence to start putting together bigger shoots. Be nice, be helpful and get stuck in!