Stef Jones is set to become a very recognisable face thanks to presenting on Sky’s Fashion One channel. The Islington local tells Mark Kebble why fashion has always been a part of her life, blagging her way into major events and why Trevor McDonald is her idol
Were you always into fashion growing up Stef?
As most girls love dolls and Barbies, yes. Fashion has been instilled in me from quite a young age. My mum was a model, so I grew up around photo shoots and seeing a lot of beauty and fashion, so it was something that came naturally to me. It kept appearing in my life. I would get little projects and it would somehow materialise into a beauty and fashion related theme. I don’t know whether I picked that, or it picked me, but I just went with it.
It came to me going to university and I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do. I knew I didn’t want to be a fashion designer, but I did appreciate all things creative and things to do with lifestyle in particular. So whether or not it’s clothes fashion or something highly desirable, the latest car, the colour schemes have been used, what trends have been important… The colours, textures, fabrics, how things go together, I find that really interesting. I got offered a space at the University of Central Lancashire to do Fashion & Brand Promotion. That developed a lot more of my creative skills, but it was not always necessarily clothing focus, it was to do with fashion and all elements of life.
So how did that evolve into presenting?
It’s an interesting story! I originally wanted to do graphic design, but unfortunately I left university when there was the recession and there were not many jobs going. My mum said do a bit of modelling, earn a bit of money – and that was just when YouTube started to become more influential. I started noticing when I was going to photo shoots they would film a lot behind the scenes and they asked me if I could give a round-up on the shoot and what happened. Very quickly I found that I preferred that part of the day to the whole photo shoot and process of being a model. I quickly found out I could have a voice and talk about things I wanted to talk about, so I found that exciting. I went off to develop that, created my own YouTube channel, learnt how to film and edit, I started sneaking into events – coming up with any story under the sun to get into wherever it was! That’s how the ball started rolling and from there it has kind of snowballed, and it became all about presenting.
What was the biggest event you blagged yourself into?
The most amazing… This is going to sound terrible was actually at London Fashion Week. I wasn’t an official presenter at the time and I just needed to get a designer interview for my showreel, to prove myself. I got friendly with this bouncer, OK I feel your pain and he snuck me in and I got an exclusive with Paul Smith. I was one of the first – there were some very high profile celebrities waiting to talk to him, but I managed to get in there first and get the piece, and that’s what got me my job.
Was it daunting talking to Paul Smith, or do you take it in your stride?
I take it pretty much in my stride. I don’t really get fazed by people, I find them inspirational and admire what they do. But everyone is human – we are all the same. As long as you can relate to that, you are respectful, and you admire and appreciate what they do, then if anything it’s just an exciting opportunity rather than being overwhelming. There’s only a few people who would do that for me. One is Trevor McDonald. I love Trevor! He’s such a legend, so inspirational, an amazing guy. He’s now going to all these scary prisons in America… I love Trev.
The name gives it away of course, but what kind of approach to fashion does the channel take?
For them, fashion isn’t just about clothing, it’s about lifestyle. They recently did a series called Fashion on a Plate, they got Michelin starred chefs to create their version of fashion within food. It’s not necessarily just looking at a runway and what people are going to be wearing, it’s a whole lifestyle. We will be going to places that you may not have heard of, to what to eat, what to wear, it’s everything that you can make creative and fun and inject that into your life. It’s an aspirational channel, but it’s very relatable as well. We like to show not only the Michelin star restaurants, but the really cool café that may be weird or quirky.
For you, what’s the secret of being a good presenter?
Just be yourself. My biggest piece of advice I have been given, which is the best, is don’t try to be a presenter. Talk as though you are talking to a friend or having a general conversation with the camera. The worst thing is when you are trying really hard to memorise lines or a script and you can see it in a presenter’s face. Just be yourself, even if you incorporate your own words into the script as long as you are getting what you need to say in there, and just be as relaxed as possible.
Is it tricky working on the red carpet?
The finished article you will see on TV isn’t necessarily what’s going on at the time! It is like a scrum, you’ve just got to be really confident and focused, and get what you need done. Don’t be afraid to ask and my biggest thing is kill people with kindness. If you ask politely very few times has it been a no. If you approach someone and have a nice big smile, really friendly, I am not someone who delves into private lives – it’s about what they are doing at that time, what’s important to that particular event and I find if you stick to that professional approach it has always worked for me.
Who has been the best celebrity you’ve met?
Dermot O’ Leary has been a real inspiration, he’s been fantastic and helped me a lot in my career. Alesha Dixon is fantastic – she’s just so bright, sparky and the energy that comes out of her is wonderful. There’s the likes of the very gorgeous David Gandy, I have told him he’s beautiful quite a few times. There are others who are a bit tougher, like Anna Wintour. I wasn’t so much overwhelmed by her, but I took a deep breath before I went in there. I have learnt a lesson – if she has got her sunglasses on, don’t go there. If she’s covered up it’s because she wants to hide herself.
Is Fashion One a launchpad for you to achieve other ambitions Stef?
I think that I have been super blessed to find the Fashion One family. It has given me so many opportunities, I have interviewed so many fantastic celebrities and been all over the world. For me what’s really exciting is that it goes out to 90 countries and it’s just hit the UK. As of December/January, I am going to hopefully be a familiar face, you will see me on channel 257 on Sky. I am working on a lot of new exciting shows for the network, not just featuring myself, I am heavily involved in the producing as well. I come up with a lot of ideas… I can’t say specific things, but we are working on a really interesting concept with a couple of people that are very niche and key in their own specific markets. Anna Fowler, the woman who took my pictures, she is a wonderful female photographer, she only shoots woman and her story is fantastic – it’s all about empowerment, it’s building girls’ confidence, and she’s a wonderful person. We will be working with people like Anna and with celebrity make-up artists, really well known bloggers, to really bring in that side of fashion to light, behind the scenes of what really goes on in that environment.
You are an Angel local I believe Stef – how long have you lived there for now?
Nearly three years. I love Islington, it’s so friendly, it’s got so much to offer, whether it’s the wealth of restaurants and bars, or shopping. I love that it’s really close to King’s Cross because I am such a Yorkshire girl, so it’s close for me to go back home as that’s a really important to me. I love my family.
It’s full of little fashion boutiques – any particular favourites?
There’s one particular shop that’s absolutely fantastic, Annie’s down Camden Passage. You will never know what you will find in there. I am a big believer of mixing high street with vintage, with designer, really creating your own unique style, really expressing your own personality. Sometimes you can’t find things on the high street. You go into somewhere like Annie’s you can find a scarf or a piece of jewellery you can incorporate into your wardrobe and it’s something that no-one else will have. My favourite shop, though, is Home & Pantry. The big mirrors, the candlesticks, I am really into my interiors too.
Are there fashion trends for 2015 to look out for?
Yes, very big. The biggest thing is sports luxe… All about mixing that element of a sporty theme with something a bit more luxurious, so you are not necessarily wearing a tracksuit! But it has this kind of two elements working together. Over the past year or so the 90s have been a really big influence in fashion. You start out with a theme and develops itself so in the mid decade it really establishes itself for that particular moment in time. So that 90s, sports feel is coming through and it will take the rest of the decade by storm.
See Stef Jones on Fashion One on Sky now