“One thing I get complimented on when people meet me is that I’m exactly what they expected…” – Stephanie Miller
There is no underestimating Stephanie Miller (neé Steph Claire Smith) – and those that try only seem to provide fuel on the fire for her drive to succeed. Successful swimwear model, an Instagram account with 1.6 million followers, and the co-founder of two globally recognised lifestyle brands: Keep It Cleaner and Soda shades – Steph’s undoubtedly an interminable force. But despite her continual evolution, she remains loyal, open, honest, laidback and grounded – hallmark qualities that keep her followers coming back for more.
With Steph recently in Sydney for the launch of Bondi Sands’ Aero Ultra Dark launch – a brand in which she has long been the face of – we managed to snatch her away for a quick chat in between ambassador duties. Here, she gives us the lowdown on everything that’s going on in her life: from her recent wedding to husband Josh Miller, career highlights, and why she’s afraid of the ocean [yes, you heard that correctly].
1. Age? 26
2. Height? 176cm
3. Best beauty product of all time? I’m going to go with the Bondi Sands Body Moisturiser as my favourite product. It’s just the best moisturiser I’ve ever come across…
4. Five beauty products you can’t live without? An eyebrow gel, a lip balm – because my lips are always dry, moisturiser, sunscreen, and mascara
5. Hair “done” or messy? Messy more often than not. Even when I do it, I try and make it messy because I like that messy-done look
6. Favourite fragrance? I have two and they’re on complete opposite spectrums when it comes to price. One is the Maison Francis Kurkdjian from Mecca and the other one is still one of my favourites and is the Britney Spears Fantasy. I’ve been wearing it since I was 12!
7. Favourite item of clothing? My activewear
8. Favourite fashion brand? Soda!
9. Gym or exercising outdoors? Gym
10. Snow or sun? Sun, always sun
11. Favourite food to indulge in? Chocolate or cheese. It’s very even my love for them both
12. First thing you pick from the mini-bar? Usually a chocolate bar or a Coke Zero. I’m a sucker for a Coke Zero
13. Favourite hobby? Watching movies
14. A strange fact about you that followers might not know? I like to eat the ends of chicken bones… and I always have. When I was younger and was getting braces, they were going through the foods I couldn’t eat and one of the things they said was, “Also, you can’t chew on chicken bones” and I started crying. My mum can attest to that!
15. Biggest fear? The ocean, which is one I’m working on because I’m near it a lot. I’m not really comfortable with waves or deep ocean water. I think it’s because I grew up going to the river and not going to the beach so much, so the ocean is so unknown to me. But the river water, which my friends are terrified to get in because it’s brown, for me – I dive straight in and have no cares in the world. I guess it’s because of what I grew up with
16. Instagram or YouTube? Instagram
17. Thoughts on TikTok? It’s fun! I’m still trying to work it out, but I’m having a lot of fun. I’ve found that I do have to be in the mood for it though. If I want to create something, I have to be in the mood – you can never force a TikTok
18. Iphone or camera? iPhone probably, just for ease. I find that because my Instagram page doesn’t have to be too curated, I like the more real and raw stuff that I capture on my iPhone over the camera
19. Lightroom or VSCO for editing? I don’t edit using either of those. For filters, I use Colourtone by Bonnie Cee – I’ve been using that for filters ever since she brought it out
20. What’s your favourite filter on Colourtone? I make up my own. I pick one and then play around with all the different lighting and then save them – I then always go back to the ones I’ve saved
21. Favourite way to edit pics? Lots of light and no retouching – I like keeping it really fresh
22. Favourite photographers to work with and why? I love Josie Clough from It’s Now Cool. She’s a good mate of mine as well, so we always have a ball. She’s just got an eye for getting an amazing shot. I also like working with Ren Pidgeon. We use him all the time for KIC [Keep It Cleaner] shoots because he’s just a joy to be around and he’s a really talented photographer
23. Model, influencing, or brand founding? Brand founding for sure. I’ve loved being a model and obviously influencing has been super fun working with different brands, but I think owning my own brand and being able to watch something like that grow is super rewarding. Especially with something like KIC where so much comes back to us and it’s just the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done – absolutely brand founding for sure
24. Will we see you launching more brands? No, no, no – I’ll definitely stick to KIK and Soda! Everything outside of that is coming more to a minimum because I’m just so keen to spend all my time on my babies. I have big plans and great ambitions for both brands so you won’t see any more, no!
25. So you’re not going to get into more clothing design? I get to dabble in it sometimes if I get to collab with someone and I know a few friends are doing it and I’m so excited to support them, but I have no interest in doing a clothing brand
26. How did you first get your start in Instablogging? I first thought it was a filter app and I would just get those images and put them on Facebook. But once I worked out that it was a profile, it was really just so friends and family could keep in touch and see what I was getting up to in the modelling world. And then my following just started gradually growing. It’s been a very steady growth. Whilst it’s a huge number now – it’s been a steady growth over the last seven years. I’ve just been going along for the ride
27. What’s your top Instagram tip? Be yourself. Don’t try and make your account or feed look like anybody else’s. If there’s something out there that already exists, why would someone follow you? You’ve got to find your difference and what’s unique to you – and I think an Instagram account always comes across as authentic when it is showing your authentic self
28. How much time do you put into a normal picture? Not much. I used to, but now I’ll just take a couple of snaps and pick the best one out of that. The filter thing is really quick, and then I just pop it right up. I’m not really too structured with the way I post – I like to just post in the moment. Some days I won’t post at all and some days I’ll post three photos. Very spontaneous!
29. Career highlight? For me, when Laura [Hemshaw] and I relaunched KIC on our own and had our own team and relaunched the app by ourselves – that is definitely one of the biggest achievements I’ve ever had in my career. Without a doubt, nothing beats that!
30. Career lowlight? Probably when I was full-time modelling back in the day and I was living in New York and it wasn’t going the way I had always dreamed of and thought it was going to go. I wasn’t with an agency over there that believed in me or wanted me to be me – and that was a real lowlight. Although, I learnt a lot and it has actually turned out to be the best thing that ever happened because I learnt so much about myself and was able to turn it around – but at that point, it was a big low. I was 20 when I was living there and if it wasn’t for the contracts I had going on in Australia that brought me back every now and then, there is no way I could have stayed there and given it a real crack. It was a low point, but I don’t regret it
31. Best campaign you’ve ever worked on? That’s a really hard one – there’s so many! I really loved my latest Adidas campaign that just came out, we went and shot it in LA and I felt very spoilt and very special. I’m just really lucky because all the brands I’ve aligned myself with and have stayed loyal to – half the reason is because I have so much fun on set creating each of their campaigns. Every single Bondi Sands campaign I have fun on, every single Bras n Things campaign I feel amazing on set… there isn’t really a stand-out particular one, they’ve all been fun
32. Worst thing that has happened to you on a photoshoot? I had a really uncomfortable situation when I was younger on a photoshoot where the owner made me twirl so he could check out my body to know what clothing to put me in – and it felt very uncomfortable. I’ve never worked with them again obviously, but that’s probably the worst thing that has happened to me on a shoot. Other than that I’ve been really lucky, I’ve heard some horror stories of working with horrible people. I’ve had blunt photographers and rude stylists before without a doubt, but [twirling for the owner] was definitely the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been on a set
33. The best gift you’ve ever received as an influencer? Probably the gift of getting to travel. The trips I’ve been able to take overseas with friends or with Josh have been priceless – so that’s definitely my absolute favourite thing that comes with the job
34. Last thing you googled? We just did a new KIK post on the bushfires and I was writing some stuff in the description, so it was probably Wildlife Victoria’s website. That was probably my last Google search to be truly honest
35. Favourite film? I have a few, but probably ‘I love you man’. It’s hilarious – it’s my favourite
36. Favourite book? I’m going to be really corny and say the ‘Twilight’ series
37. Favourite travel destination? One of the most magical places I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been lucky enough to go there twice, is the Maldives
38. Most Instagram-worthy spot? Any Australian beach
39. Top three essentials to pack when traveling? My runners so I can do a workout, my sunscreen, and my Keep Cup. I take it everywhere I go, I’ve been in a really good habit of doing it, I just keep it in my handbag. Last year I reckon I only used two takeaway coffee cups and I plan to make it zero this year – so that’s one thing I don’t travel without!
40. Going out clubbing or quiet dinner with friends? Quiet dinner with friends
41. Best moment from the wedding? There’s so many! The ceremony was amazing, don’t get me wrong, but I was up until 4am dancing the night away with the majority of our guests. I honestly think that after dinner and after everyone’s beautiful speeches, getting to dance the night away with everyone and not having a time or noise curfew was the best part of the night
42. Siblings? I’ve got an older brother
43. What city are you currently living in? Melbourne
44. Celebrity/influencer crush? I’ve always had a thing for Zac Efron – I think from ‘High School Musical’ days for sure…
45. Pets? Yes, Ari Golddog is like my son – he’s human
46. What is your best asset? I think my dimples when I smile
47. Biggest misconception about you? That’s a hard one because I try and keep it really real over social media and I think I show so much of my own personality. One thing I get complimented on when people meet me is that I’m exactly what they expected
48. Top five Instagram accounts to follow? @therealjadetunchy, @keepitcleaner, @celestebarber… I really like following funny accounts, so I really like @theinspiredunemployed. I also love following my friend @samevanslife – he makes the most amazing content. Even before I was friends with him, I really enjoyed his content – seeing what he was up to and doing all his amazing things
49. Favourite quote you live by? A few, but I’ll go for the Dr Seuss one: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”
50. Top career tip? Only launch something you’re super passionate about because there is going to be a lot of tough times ahead and a lot of hurdles – so unless you’re really passionate about what you’re doing, those hurdles might stop you in your tracks.