Claire Ferrandi: Enjoying Being Fiercely Independent

Photo by Dylan Swart

Food, Beverage & Product Stylist

Your industry: Food Styling

Your home base: Johannesburg

What is your passion?

I’m truly passionate about beauty in all forms. I have always loved beautiful things and being able to style imagery for brands combines all of my loves into a job – food, beauty, design and the act of creating something, from scratch, using my hands.

What lead you to this point in your life?

Like most career paths, it was a journey. I graduated from the University of Cape Town with a social science degree in philosophy and politics and I couldn’t see myself working in the areas I had studied. I loved food, creating and beautiful things and felt drawn to a creative career.

I enrolled at Silwood School of Cookery in Cape Town, South Africa and instantly found my place in the world! It felt so inspiring to be doing something that I loved, and felt I was really good at. I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want to be in restaurant kitchens forever, and had ambitions of being a food stylist or product developer. My favourite part about cooking was presenting my food, so in a way it felt like food styling found me.

Part of my studies were spent in restaurant and product development kitchens, and after graduating I became a full time freelance food assistant. I assisted some of Cape Town’s best food stylists for a few years – they were so generous with sharing their knowledge and it was incredible experience being an assistant on such a wide variety of shoots.

After my years of assisting, I built up a portfolio as a food stylist in Cape Town, and was then offered the job as food editor of Food & Home Magazine. I moved to Johannesburg and felt so inspired by the excitement of moving and the opportunity to work on a food magazine, full time. I spent my days styling food, conceptualising shoots, developing, testing and editing recipes and representing the magazine at functions. After 3 years as food editor, I decided to concentrate my experience and focus entirely on my food styling business.

"I’ve been self-employed for 2 years and haven’t looked back – I love that I get to work on a wide variety of projects."

I find running my business very empowering and love that I am in charge of every aspect.

Photo on right by Dylan Swart

What did you study?

Philosophy and politics at UCT, then professional cookery at Silwood School of Cookery.

What did you sacrifice to follow your dreams?

The comfort of a full-time job.

What do you love about what you do?

I find the act of bringing a creative idea to life thrilling. The process of a creative idea being something that exists in someone one’s mind and then being brought to life in the form of a physical image is magical.

Photos on left & right by Philip Santos | Middle photo by Dylan Swart

What advice do you have for girls trying to follow their dreams? What is the most important thing you have learnt?

  • You have to make a change if you want things to change: The quote “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” is something I remind myself of often.

  • Just start; that means showing up every day with confidence and leaning into the process of becoming better at what you do. Don’t expect to be excellent when you start, but you will get there if you are showing up every day, taking and making opportunities for yourself.

  • Hard work, confidence and really caring about your product are more important than talent.

  • Don’t take all the advice you get, only take to heart what intuitively feels right to you.

Where do you go for inspiration?

Out into the world and online to be inspired by beautiful things: nature, travel, beautiful ingredients and trends in décor and fashion.

What excites you about your life?

That I am totally in charge of how I run my business, what projects I decide to work on and who I work with.

"I love being fiercely independent in my approach to things."

Middle photo by Annalize Nel | Right photo by Dylan Swart

What challenges have you had to overcome?

I’ve had to learn how to run a business, and the constant process of becoming a better boss and mentor.

What is your support system?

My partner, Patrick, my parents and my photographer friends and colleagues. They are all there for me in different ways when I need to bounce ideas around or vent about my day.

What is your 'recipe for success'?

"You have to be gutsy, put yourself out there and go after things even if you feel your ideas aren’t perfect or you don’t feel perfectly ready."

What’s next for you?

I’m finishing up renovating a studio, so launching my own studio is what is making me very excited at the moment! I’m also working on a rebrand and website refresh and am excited about what these new things will bring to my business.

Instagram: @claireferrandi


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