Who's behind Canberra's best flat lays ?

Wed 09 May

Her Instagram profile is chaotic in the prettiest way possible. She makes clutter look beautiful, study look appealing and dining out look like a stylised high-tea – even when she’s feasting on a greasy burger. Admittedly, everything Leerachel touches turns pretty or pink – or BOTH.

What started as a personal profile to showcase her pet bunnies somehow turned into a side hustle making her a bit of dosh on the side, being on the receiving end of endless products and scoring invites to influencer events around town.

Falling into the flay lay scene accidentally, Leerachel turned her hobby into a micro-business to prove she can choose two career paths despite being told she couldn’t. With a loyal following of over 11.5K on Instagram, Leerachel uses her platform to promote small and local business and to help stay-at-home mums looking to make an income while out of work.

We delved behind the flat lay to find out everything we could about her journey.

Who is Leerachel ?
A lot of people I work with don’t even know I have this business on the side, I keep it very separate. I don’t even use my full name on my flat lay page [Lee Usher-Clarke]. I work full time as a lawyer and have been practicing now for over three years. Before that I was at university for six years, I didn’t start my flat lay page until I graduated. I found I had more time outside of hours to be creative. I basically replaced university assignments with flat lays.

Have you always been a creative soul?
I always had an interest in Art but grew up being told I can’t do both! So, I went for the higher income earning job instead of something creative because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent. I just wanted to prove that you can do both no matter what people say.

How did you fall into the flay lay?
By accident really! If you were to scroll all the way back on my feed to where it all began you’ll find a bunch of photos of my bunny’s and also pictures of Canberra. I call myself a local now, but when I moved to Canberra 10 years ago for university I really didn’t like it at all. It took getting out and taking photos and attending local events to connect me to the city, and I never left. Flay lays have proven to be really effective in selling product and telling a story for me.

Do you keep your personal life separate to your Instagram façade?
I don’t post as many personal photos anymore, I realised people don’t care about your personal life. For the most part of last year, I didn’t post one picture of myself. At the end of the year, I started to feel like the page wasn’t mine anymore so, in turn, I’ve tried to make it a little more personal again.

How much work can go into just one Instagram upload?
On average three to four hours work goes into creating one image. It depends on the creative mood I am in, I have learned it’s something you can’t force. Sometimes I think I take better photos when I’m in a creative mood and I haven’t thought about it quite so much. You have to love what you are doing to produce something other people will enjoy. If I’m busy and stressed and trying to force myself I really struggle.

How do you find the time?
Having a full-time job and a side hustle is a lot of work you have to enjoy it because it does take up a lot of time. If you’re coming home and doing something that actually feels like work it’s not going to be worth it for you. I come home from work and I love taking photos of things that look pretty together and helping other businesses out.

What do you find most rewarding?
I do a lot of giveaways to help local businesses grow their following. I use my larger following to get the name out about small businesses and to promote their products. It is hard to be seen and it’s hard to grow by yourself without the help of other accounts. I do a lot of content creation which can be product styling for local or small businesses in Canberra, or even national businesses. In particular, I am more inclined to help businesses run by women, and support stay at home mums trying to make an income on the side.

How did it grow from a hobby to a micro-business?
I started off shooting on my smartphone but found I was limited within the terms of quality content I could produce for businesses. When it’s a sponsored post you want to produce the best content if you’re charging for a post that’s when it starts becoming an actual business, not just a hobby. By this point, I had to step up to the next level and develop photography skills and purchase a good camera. I am always worried about producing quality content, I put time into everything to ensure the brand I am working with will be happy with it, it is never just thrown together. I have to go out and buy things to put into my photos and use things I have been sent.

What have you learned along the way?
What I didn’t predict was how much time goes into networking and responding to emails. Brands assume you have teams working with you, I had to learn how to negotiate and get back to people in a timely manner. It starts to feel like a micro business when you have people waiting on you for a response. I have also learned it’s important not to force a consistent theme on myself even though Instagram thrives on having a themed profile but I’ve learned it also needs to reflect you and real life isn’t that planned.