Get To Know Ambassador Talia Smollan

Get To Know Ambassador Talia Smollan

Introducing Our Faceless Crew’s absolutely adorable ambassador, Talia. She’s the face opening our viral video PSA on social media.

Whether you’re a yachting veteran or curious about entering this unique industry, Talia’s insights and experiences are sure to captivate and inform.


How did you get started in the yachting industry?

For 2 years I worked as a manager in a Fibre company and saved enough to do my STCW, Stewardess & Deckhand course, as well as the ENG1. Once I had all the qualifications I booked a plane ticket to Antibes, France from South Africa in 2022 to find a job.

It was a different lifestyle. I had to adapt quickly in order to find a job. I dock-walked, got daywork, and I even got a small videography job for a yacht broker. Eventually, I landed a full season job on a private 31m motor yacht as a Deck / Stew that was based in Spain.


Can you share a brief overview of your career path in yachting up until now?

My yachting experience has been an emotional, hardworking rollercoaster ride from balancing health, working, and dealing with people that you live with for 6 months straight in small spaces.

It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It has been a challenge in so many good ways. I was a Deck / Stew, but I mainly worked as a “Chief Stew” on board, making sure that everything in the interior including service, housekeeping & laundry were up to high standards.

Working in this career is hard work and a whole lot of adaptability. From working on deck assisting the deckhand with anchoring, to handling lines, to wash-downs then dealing with the interior, it becomes a big load and a challenge which I love! Working on a 31m vessel really makes the crew tighter because we helped each other where we can, and it really makes us a stronger team.

Overall, it was an amazing adventure to travel to different countries, islands, seeing different cultures, reefs and sea animals. It just shows how beautiful the experience is and how lucky I am, that I can call this a job.

At the end of the season the owner of the yacht asked me to look after his grandchildren in Switzerland for a year and I couldn’t say no to that opportunity. It was an amazing year, but I am ready to start this next season strong.


What motivated you to enter the yachting industry?

My love for the ocean. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always remembered my dad taking us to the beach every weekend and I just grew up with it by my side.

While I was in school people were asking me what I was going to study when I go to “university”, but my mind was already made up… that’s not the life for me, I can’t sit at a desk and work or study for something I don’t enjoy. I wanted to combine my passions, love, and work in one.

Sometimes it doesn’t work for people, but for me it’s all I thought about. I did a lot of research and came across the yachting industry and that was my main focus and goal to achieve. I worked straight after school, doing different jobs and eventually saved enough to follow my goal and passion.


What do you find most appealing about the yachting lifestyle?

To be able to be on the ocean, traveling to these beautiful, exquisite places as well as the ocean life, the independent lifestyle, working extremely hard knowing that you will be rewarded at the end of the season. Also meeting new people, crew members and making lifelong friends that you can catch up in years’ time from the other side of the world.


Working as both a deckhand and stewardess, how do you balance the responsibilities of these roles?

Be a sponge especially if you were a greenie. I took everything that my captain taught us and mastered it.

Time management and organization play a big role, as well as being competent of the certain responsibilities. And let’s not forget the biggest role…Communication.

If you have so much on your plate, there will always be someone who you can reach out to… It took me a while to figure that one out, because I am so used to working on my own that I forgot that this is a team, and we need to work together to be able to have a successful trip.


 What unique challenges and rewards come with handling a dual role on a yacht?

What I loved about the dual role was being able to adapt to different situations and expect the unexpected. I didn’t just have one specific role, it varied to many responsibilities.

For example, I was working in service but as soon as we needed to anchor or dock, we swapped, and I helped out at the anchor station or assisted with ground lines when docking. As soon as I was done, I headed back to the service role. It just made each day interesting, new, and different and as they would say kept me on my toes.


How has working in both positions helped you in understanding the yachting operation better?

There comes a routine and rhythm that you stick to. From time management, to using the specific products when cleaning, to figuring out which detergent will work better for the clothes, to working with a crew, it becomes easier day by day when you know exactly the techniques you utilise and that comes with learning, accepting the errors and finding the right solutions. It was not just the dual position it was also working together, we became a family, and we helped each other wherever we could to understand and progress further.


How do you incorporate your professional skills in photography and videography into your yachting career?

I have many years of experience in the photography & videography field as a freelancer. I love to create memorable stories through film or photography. When it comes to the yachting industry there are many people, guests, crew on board who would love to capture those beautiful memories that they have experienced. So, when it does come to charters, I would love to incorporate and create portraits, of the guest’s time onboard, from either diving with dolphins, to relaxing at the bow with a beautiful sunset behind them, to enjoying a fine dine… I would be the one to capture those moments on either film or photos to keep as a nostalgic memory/ experience. (even for the crew) I did this previously for the family on the 31m private Motor Yacht.


Can you share an instance where your photography/videography work significantly contributed to a memorable yachting experience?

When it came to my previous Motor yacht there was a time where I captured all of the family jumping into the water at night, because there was a full moon. That was a very memorable evening. The wife on board also wanted to learn how to edit videos and I taught her the basic editing skills, so she was able to create memorable videos as well (it makes me happy helping others follow a passion that I love as well).

Lastly my favourite one was when I captured my 6 months with the crew and family on board – all the laughs, the cries, the embarrassing moments, the dancing, the crazy work, we did it to keep sane and make the season great and what makes it even better is that I can look back on it through the videos and photos I’ve made.


Looking ahead, what are your long-term aspirations in the yachting industry?

My main goal is to work my way up to becoming a Chief Stewardess, but adding my passions which, of course, includes photography/videography on board and build up my social media platform to help others start up their route to becoming a yachtie.


From your experience, what advice would you give to someone looking to start a career in yachting?

Don’t be afraid to make that leap and go out of your comfort zone, to be your 100% self and always be true to everyone around you, study further in different courses to make your CV stand out this could include: scuba diving, Pilates instructor, drone operator, masseuse etc.


What are the essential skills or qualities someone should develop to succeed in a dual role like yours?

To be adaptable in any situation, being able to listen and take everything in like a sponge, this is important because safety is the number one rule on any boat. Communication is definitely key, to be fit and always do it with a smile on your face! 😊 It’s hard work but at the end of the day it is so rewarding.


What has been your most memorable experience while working on yachts?

The one day I looked up from decorating the table and realized where I was …  Capri Island where your only view is the beautiful, rugged landscape, and the electric blue sea water.  At that moment I just took everything in, and I became super grateful to be where I was at that exact moment. The other memorable experience had to be when we were crossing from Ibiza to Malta and seeing the flat, crystal-clear ocean. This gave us the opportunity to see turtles coming up for air... and let’s not forget making lifelong memories with the crew.


How has working in the yachting industry influenced your personal and professional growth?

From working onboard I learnt and grew in so many different ways because you take everything into your own hands, from making sure the guests are satisfied, to making sure the boat is 100%, to organising everything. It made my specific skills stronger. For example: attention to detail has become drilled into my head, my mental and physical health grew in so many ways from working with different personalities, as well as being able to handle the huge amount of pressure to make the both the guests and captain satisfied.


As an ambassador for Our Faceless Crew, how do you plan to engage with and contribute to the community?

By sharing my experiences and updates on my social media platform. Answer any queries you may have and try my best to give out any advice that could help any one of you.


Are there any specific goals you aim to achieve through your role as an ambassador for Our Faceless Crew?

Yes, to help other people who are looking to start in the yachting industry. Also to help anyone who is struggling in the yachting industry with regards to decorating a table, knowing which cleaning products to use etc.

Most importantly, to show that this is also where we can create a safe space and grow within the yachting industry.


Let’s support Talia on her re-entry into the industry and follow her new adventures on Instagram @taliajls8



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