Mogul in the making
She’s the ultimate girl next door – oh, but with 1.2 million Insta followers and mega business smarts. WH goes #nofilter with Steph Claire Smith
Steph Claire Smith on business, body image and what gets her out of bed
It’d be easy to underestimate Steph Claire Smith. Yep, her Instagram is full of selfies and wish-we-had-that-tan bikini shots (she’s the face of Bondi Sands, after all). But she’s also smart, self-aware and savvy as hell. The proof: ambassadorships for adidas and Clinique, and her own venture Keep It Cleaner (KIC) with bestie and business partner Laura Henshaw. What started as a recipe ebook became a wellness website and recently launched as a full-blown lifestyle program with meal plans and workouts. Plus, did we mention there’s a KIC health-food range hitting shelves at Coles this month? And while the 23-year-old model and influencer’s feed is often picture perfect, she doesn’t shy away from real talk, posting about topics like body image. This August, Smith uploaded a video to Youtube that saw her open up about binge eating when she was 20 and modelling in New York. It was raw and honest, asking her followers to realise that “we may show a lot of the perfect stuff online to you, but it’s not a whole reality” – and to seek help if they were going through a similar experience. What’s clear? There’s much more to SCS than meets the eye. We phoned her in London to talk about her whirlwind year, the art of self-acceptance and much more.
Why’d you decide to take Keep It Cleaner further with a lifestyle program?
[Laura Henshaw and I] wanted to expand because I can’t tell you how many messages we get from girls – who even come up to us on the street – about how much they love what we’re about and that they want to see more. I suppose we just want to reach out to as many people as possible, and give them as much information, motivation and inspiration as we possibly can.
You’ve launched a range in Coles. What was the driving force behind that?
I shop there all the time, but I still have to do my health-food shop separately, because there aren’t enough options at Coles. We wanted to fill that gap in the market. When it all started happening, it was kind of surreal! I didn’t get too excited until I knew it was happening – through my experience in modelling, it’s been my rule never to get too excited about something until you’ve got a contract in front of you [laughs]. Once we realised it was actually going ahead... it was a dream come true for me and Laura.
What’s your average day on a plate like?
Breakfast is usually an acai bowl, or buckwheat porridge with yoghurt, cacao nibs, some peanut butter and blueberries. For lunch, I’m a sucker for smashed avocado on gluten-free toast with goat’s cheese and chilli, spinach on the side and poached eggs. My go-to cafe is Short Straw in Melbourne – the smashed avo there is life! Peppermint tea helps me get through sweet cravings, then I generally have an apple with peanut butter, a green smoothie or a few rice cakes with something on top. I love cooking, so dinner will be anything that’s got a lot of vegies and protein – like chicken, steak, a stir-fry or zoodle pasta.
What energises you?
Exercising most days, and being mindful that I’m very lucky to do what I do. If I ever have one of those mornings where I don’t want to go to work, I laugh to myself because I’m like, “You love what you do, and you’re crazy to not want to get up!” Food-wise, I need quite a bit of protein. If I’m running low on energy, it’s probably because I haven’t had my eggs or whatever. I think that’s different for everyone – you’ve just got to listen to your body.
Are you a coffee drinker?
I used to be. I’d probably have one a day, then earlier this year I did a blood test for intolerances because I was having some [digestive] issues and needed to find out what was upsetting my stomach. One thing that came up was coffee. I cried when I found out [laughs] because my coffee a day really got me through. But I haven’t had one since. English breakfast tea is now my caffeine and I like a soy chai latte.
You travel so much. How do you make sure you keep fit when you’re away?
Walking is an awesome way to see new places. If it’s terrible weather or there’s not a treadmill, I love doing pilates and strength training in my room. It can be hard to motivate yourself, and I’ve had moments where I just want to keep watching Netflix. But if I went through too many days or weeks doing that and making the excuse that if I’m not at home I won’t exercise, that wouldn’t be good [in the long run]!
What’s your approach to exercise at home?
It depends how much I’m working, but an awesome week would include six workouts. So, that’s four one-on-one boxing sessions with Will [Tomlinson] at Tribute Boxing & Fitness in Melbourne. Boxing’s addictive because not only do you feel amazing afterwards and it does amazing things to your body, but if you’ve got something to think about or you are a little bit angry about, it’s a way to get it out of your system. You feel your punches getting stronger and more accurate, too. I love pilates, whether it’s a reformer class or just on my own at home. It’s changed my body, because you switch on such small muscle groups doing it. Then also power walks and walking my dog – it’s like my own daily meditation.
Why do you think it’s important to post about issues like body image?
The majority of my followers are 16 to 25 years of age, which is a very sensitive stage. Girls can have that second wave of puberty. I was able to eat whatever I wanted until I hit 18, when I started getting hips, a bum, bigger arms and thighs. I wasn’t sure if I was doing something wrong or whether my body was just changing. It wasn’t until a couple of years later when I was training and eating right that I realised this is just my body and the figure I’m growing into. We are all very different and I suppose that’s why I wanted to put [posts out] to say we are all always changing inside and outside. You can’t want something that isn’t “you” – you’ve just got to try to be the best version of yourself that you can [be].
And your attitude now?
When I was living in New York, I became very, very, very selfconscious because I was told I needed to lose weight. Modelling really does play with your mind and you can pick up some pretty bad habits... unfortunate quick fixes and stuff like that. So, I suppose it’s been years in recovery on my mindset, not recovery on my body. I still love modelling, but I’m really glad that the majority of my time [now] is made up of other things I love. When [modelling is] the sole thing you’re thinking about, it can really consume you and play with your mind and body image. Knowing there are more important things in life has helped me. My body confidence isn’t perfect
– I don’t think anyone’s is – but something I’ve really learnt from Laura is to focus more on the things you love about yourself rather than the things you don’t.
How do you handle all the negativity on social media?
I’ve learnt you really can’t listen to comments like that. My partner Josh [Miller] keeps me grounded. He is also like, “Don’t give them any energy”. When the majority of the comments are positive and lovely, I can’t just focus on the negative ones. It’s taken me a long time, though. That’s why when younger girls ask about making it big on Instagram, one of the first things I talk about is being able to accept some negative feedback, because that comes with it.
Let’s talk about Josh – what’s your dynamic like as a couple?
We’ve been dating for more than five years, but have been family friends since I was 12. The trust and communication [between us] is very strong, especially when we spend time apart. There was a year when I was living in America and didn’t see him for six months straight, which was probably the hardest thing we have ever gone through. He’s such a ball of energy and so supportive. It sounds corny, but he’s definitely my soul mate.
Tell us something surprising about you
I have a fear of the ocean. When I was growing up [in Melbourne], we didn’t really go to the beach much at all and my only experiences at the beach were either being stuck in waves or getting sandy!
Who are some of the women you admire?
Laura’s a massive inspiration. Working alongside someone like her is extremely motivating, especially when you’re sharing a workload and they seem to be powering through a million-and-one things at once! Then, outside of work, my mum. She could have the worst day and still be so lovely to everyone. She’s such a selfless, beautiful lady.
What does being a strong woman mean to you?
It’s definitely not about how much you can lift or how many squats you can do [laughs]. It’s being strong in your mindset. Just knowing that you’re being the best “you” you can, and doing your best every day.
If you need help or support for an eating disorder or body image issue, please call The Butterfly Foundation’s national helpline on 1800 334 673 or email support@ thebutterflyfoundation.org.au.
THE SMITH LIFE THERE’S A REASON @STEPHCLAIRESMITH HAS 1.2 MILLION INSTA FOLLOWERS. SHE TAKES US BEHIND THE SCENES, FROM WORKOUTS TO HER RELATIONSHIP. DOUBLE-TAP.
A “pinch-me” moment with Lara Worthington
Smashed avo at her fave Melbs brunch spot
Ready to train with adidas in London
California dreamin’ on a beach vacay
With bestie and business partner Laura Henshaw
Total bowl goals with her porridge brekkie
Representing Clinique as an ambassador
Posing it up in a bathroom selfie on a UK trip
On a date with boyfriend Josh Miller
Speaking about body image on Youtube