STEPH FROM HOUSE OF AIRLIE
Sometimes, happy accidents lead to the greatest successes. Just ask Stephanie Airlie-Noé,
founder of boutique PR agency House of Airlie.
So, how did House of Airlie all begin? ‘It kind of happened by accident,’ says Stephanie Airlie. This seems to be a running theme of my chat with Steph a few months ago in her cute little King St studio. Later, she tells me that she’s an ‘accidental PR person’. Steph never studied or trained, but fell into PR by chance, threw caution to the wind and took a leap of faith when she met a woman at an event in Sydney, who offered her a job at her new PR agency. She’s definitely my kind of entrepreneur! Steph had no idea what PR was, but it sounded interesting, so she quit her full time job with Sass and Bide, and one thing led to another.
‘I never even knew that job existed, but I had the best time – working with fashion, which I’ve always been passionate about, talking to journos, and getting results for clients. I definitely get invested, because I care and put effort into the project. It’s so rewarding to see the fruits of your labour when a client gets a spread in a magazine, or an exciting bit of coverage.’
Now, Steph runs a boutique PR agency in Newcastle, partners with graphic design power-sister-team February (they did the House of Airlie website – it’s pretty shmick so you should definitely check it out!), and a small team of PR professionals who get the job done. She’s also got a cute little three-year-old son, a Parisian surfer husband, and the sweetest smile you ever did see. #goals, amirite?
What exactly is PR for those who don’t know?
PR is about brand building and reputation. What you say and what others say about you.
How did you end up in Newcastle?
I grew up here and have strong memories of hanging out in Newcastle East where my gran lived, busking in the mall and then getting the ferry to Stockton… going to the movies, getting a milkshake and cheeseburger at Big Al’s…
[insert about 3 minutes of interview during which we talk about how much we loved Big Al’s and how they should bring it back and getting a little too excited about burgers and fries and milkshakes…!]
So how long have you been back here now?
A few years now. My husband was offered a job here, so we left Sydney and decided to raise a family in Newcastle. He’s a surfer and just really loves it here, plus now we’re close to my family.
You never studied PR, so how did you get to where you are now?
I left school at 15 because I was keen to get into the workforce. I worked in travel to begin with and then moved overseas and worked as a nanny before getting my big break in fashion in London. I was working for Balenciaga’s concept store in Selfridges and then was headhunted for Louis Vuitton before moving to Italy. When I came back to Sydney, I worked for Sass and Bide, until I sat next to someone at a dinner, who offered me a job in PR.
When did House of Airlie launch?
I launched the business from my kitchen table at home in October 2015 and then moved into our gorgeous little office space in King Street about a year later. We've just celebrated our 2nd birthday and it's been an exciting journey with lots of changes and hard work along the way. I am now feeling really confident with the direction of the business and we've found our niche in the food, wine, hospitality and tourism sector and it happened very organically. I saw a gap in the market as our journey progressed for a specialist agency that serviced our region's booming food, wine and tourism industry. We are incredibly passionate about our region and stories of the incredibly rich pool of talent right on our doorstep - we feel very privileged to do what we do.
Who is your ideal client?
Our sweet spot is definitely food, wine, hospitality and tourism but we also work with businesses from other industries. It just depends if it's the right fit for us. I am constantly inspired by my clients and I'm in a constant of learning from each and every one of them. They are so passionate and 100% committed to what they do and all I can say is it's very inspiring to be around and I'm grateful for every opportunity that has come my way. Sometimes there are "pinch yourself" moments and I think to myself... how did I get here?
What’s your dream for the future of House of Airlie?
I've got exciting plans up my sleeve for House of Airlie but as they say .. watch this space!
Check out www.houseofairlie.com.au or drop in to visit Steph at the studio on King St, opposite the cinemas!