Sticks & Stones may break the bones of the fashion industry, but this is no modeling agency. Instead, Sticks & Stones Agency operates as an online magazine by Ainsley Hutchence and Sebastien Fougere. Together, they lead a mothership of over 335,000 Instagram followers who thirst for their cutting-edge fashion editorials, photography and "shitty" interviews with under-the-radar cultural figures from musicians to pro skaters. Thanks to their own brand of anti-establishment edgy cool, Sticks & Stones Agency is ready to conquer the Internet, a tap at a time.

Behind the electric pink locks, sugar skull rings, circular shades and cherry-hued lips, there lies a heart full of dedication and devotion to art. Hutchence chats about the beginnings of Sticks & Stones Agency, photography, "shitty" interviews and being addicted to creating exclusively for The 405.

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How did you and your husband Sebastien start Sticks & Stones?

We started out as a clothing label, then two weeks after, we met and fell in love with each other (8 years ago). At some point we evolved into a fashion agency and housed 12 great brands. We also discovered Instagram and started using it as a platform to share awesome pics we found on the Internet, along with personal photos of Sebastien and I on our repping adventures.

As our following started to grow, we thought it would be a good idea to produce our own content, and so we started working on shoots using the brands we represented under our agency. This meant we had access to awesome one-off samples and pre-season stock. After a few months, we were getting booked by brands and mags to produce look books, editorials, etc.

After a couple years of fumbling around the fashion industry, we decided we needed a bigger platform to showcase shoots in their entirety, and so we launched in June 2014. We now work full time on shooting clothes and the website and quit the fashion agency altogether.

So, Sticks & Stones Agency is actually not an agency at all.


What I love about Sticks & Stones is that you prominently feature photo spreads that have different purposes whether it's beauty, fashion, or fine art. Why do you choose to emphasize photography?

I am addicted to photos.

On your website, you feature content from contributors around the world. What brings you to allow people from all over the world to contribute to Sticks and Stones?

Anyone can submit a shoot for Sticks and Stones. Most of the time I don't even know where the shoot has come from until I am posting it and reading the shoot info for the first time properly. When I'm going through submission emails, I usually skip the writing and go straight to the photos. I can tell if the shoot is a good fit after looking at just one or two. It's all about the photos.

Lately, I can usually guess where the shoot has come from based on their aesthetic. For instance, anything coming out of Russia is stamped with its own brand of cool. I fucking love what Russia has been producing lately!

I can tell immediately if a shoot has come out of Australia, Montreal, California, New York, Bangkok... All these places have a very distinct style. I guess we are inspired by our surroundings and we often unintentionally develop the same flavour.


In addition, you also produce your own editorials for indie fashion magazines such as Live Fast and C-heads along with beauty brand Frank Body, who are well-known for their coffee-based body scrubs. How did you collaborate with these companies and what drew you to working with them?

Usually like-minded brands reach out to us and ask us to make them some fun online content. We have been super blessed with great collaborations with brands that we love and use like Frank Body, etc. We usually submit our shoots to other online platforms and magazines that we like such as Live Fast and C-heads to further their reach.

Asides from photography, you also feature an interview series that you dub as "Shitty Interviews", where you interviewed cult punk hip-hop band Ho99o9, DJ Tigerlily, visual artist Natalie Krim, General Pants Co.'s Design Director Pip Edwards and pro skater Don Nguyen. What inspired you launch "Shitty Interviews"?

Sebastien and I both love to watch and read interviews with other creatives, so it just made sense to come up with our own shitty version. Our interviewees have to print 2 pages of questions out and draw or write their answers. The questions are randomly selected from our shitty pickle jar and very often are completely unrelated to anything. But, we find that this approach actually reveals more about the person than regular interview questions. They are forced to get creative instead of answering the same questions over and over. On that note... This interview is filled with questions I have never been asked before, so thank you!


You and Sebastien launched a section where readers watch the top five music videos and short films. Why is it important for your readers to know about music and film?

If we had more time on our hands (or more staff) we would be putting out a lot more content dedicated to film! Actually, from next week I will be adding a weekly 'to watch' recommendation list. Film and music are a huge part of our life, since we don't go out much, and we want to share everything we love with our readers. Basically, I'm a massive Netflix fan! Shouts out to our intern Troy for sharing your login deets with us.

Both of you are very passionate about art and I love that you emphasize it. Who/what inspired both of you to develop your passion for the arts?

We are both just addicted to creating. I think once you discover how much better life is when you are being creative, there is no other option. We both inspire each other, but we are also very inspired by everyone we post about on our site.


Sticks and Stones has built a name for itself as a not-so-PG publication and if I am not wrong, I remember that you were kicked off of Instagram for featuring nudity. Although the majority of the Western world values freedom of expression, the watchdogs get mad when they see a nude female body or a single drop of profanity. How do you work around censorship and where do you stand on this issue?

For me, there is a very distinct difference between beautiful natural nudity and pornographic, over-sexualised nudity. But for someone to sit over at Instagram and decide which is what would be both impractical and subjective, so I get why they have just ruled out everything. It's annoying having to scribble over photos that I post, but at least this gives our followers more of a reason to go check out the uncensored versions on our site.

Our Insta account was deleted early last year after I posted a photo of a set of twins standing side-by-side in their high cut swimwear which exposed their unwaxed bikini line. Instagram used to have a problem with lady pubes. Obviously, if this was a man, there would be no issue, and so this became a massive sexist debate in the media. Eventually, Instagram reinstated our account since the story went viral, we ended up with a whole bunch of new followers and our website broke every day for weeks from all the traffic.


You and Sebastien are parents to two teenagers and a nine-year-old. Do you see Sticks and Stones as an educational tool for your kids?

I work at home most days and over the weekends, so our kids get to see a lot of what we do. They also come along to some of the more innocent shoots from time to time. For them, I think it is a great education to see their parents spend their days being creative and doing what they love. I also have lots of opportunities to speak to them about the difference between over-sexualised nudity and art. Their understanding of this is amazing.

Generally speaking though, I would say Sticks & Stones is an 18+ platform and we only feature models that are 18 or over. Some of the content on there is definitely for a more mature audience.

Lastly, where do we see the future of Sticks & Stones and what goals do you hope to accomplish?

In the near future we will be releasing a photo book - 365 pages showcasing the 'photo of the day' for every day of the year. The photos will be selected from shoots that have been featured on our site. This is a project that we are super excited about. We love books!

We also have big development plans for our website but we can't give any of that info away just yet. Mostly we just plan to continue to do what we love doing.

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