simone frank


When talking to fellow creatives, we often wonder: HOW DO THEY DO IT? To prevent Instagram stalking or doom-scrolling to figure out their secret sauces and success stories, we prefer to ask them face-to-face. Today: an unfiltered conversation with SIMONE FRANK, PHOTOGRAPHER and FOUNDER OF FRANK CLAUS. “It all started with a school project.” Cover image: courtesy of Simone Frank


As a child, photographer and Frank Claus founder Simone Frank loved grocery shopping with her mom. She was not fond of supermarkets or deciding what to have for dinner; she spent her time on the magazine shelf, browsing and flipping to fashion magazines instead. “I was completely absorbed in magazines and booklets; maybe somewhere, I already knew I wanted to do something with that one day.” It’s safe to say that Frank’s strong vision stems from her youth. “As a child, I knew what I wanted. At school, I always looked forward to creative projects, where I could dive into my imaginary world and always attracted something I wanted.” Her strong will led her to her first camera, which had to be used for every school project. “I remember when I bought my first camera and asked the teacher if I could photograph a certain assignment instead of painting. They let me.” One could argue it marked the start of her photography career at a very young age. “Looking back, it’s amusing: I assembled a team and did the photography and image editing myself. From that moment, photography has continued to develop as a hobby. I often went with friends to horse competitions to photograph them. I had already built a small network of people who asked me back then, for example, to take photos of their horses for sale. I had a small business at a young age,” she smiles.

Also read Sia Arnika: “As I get older, I feel more centered – and it shows in my designs”


As a dreamer, Simone always pictured her future in her mind. “I could see how I wanted something, and then it had to be that way; I was already manifesting things then, without realizing I was. And I still do so. Sometimes, I’m aware of it. Especially at the beginning of a new year, it’s good to return to little Simone and visualize my dreams for the year ahead.”

How would you describe to others what you do daily?

“I turned my passion into my job, and that is how I earn my money today. When I bought my first camera, I knew I wanted to do this for a living. However, society sometimes makes you doubt yourself when adults ask, “Can you make money with a creative profession?” It made me think about its business side at 12 years old.”

Simone Frank

Were you photographing horses back then?

“Yes. I was in the horse stables daily; it was a great passion. I remember being obsessed with the Brooks Organization, which helps horses and donkeys in poor conditions. Then I thought: this is what I want–to become a veterinarian and then help there. However, in my 4th year of high school, I discovered this was not my path. I then left high school to take a sprint course in marketing and communications to move on to a higher level more quickly. When allowed to pursue a higher professional education, I photographed whenever possible. In my final year, I did a minor at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute; it made everything click. Fashion and photos, I had to investigate that a little further…”

What was your first job after graduation?

“I started with an internship at ELLE and a job in the fashion industry. After school, I further expanded my network. I was called for a certain job when I was about to start my thesis. I decided to take the job and combine it, but it was unsuccessful. When I wanted to pick up school afterwards, I noticed that school no longer served me. I just wanted to photograph, so I consciously pursued that dream. In retrospect, I’m glad that it turned out this way despite the detour.”

You are a renowned photographer, fashion designer, and CHANEL ambassador. The question on anyone’s lips is: how do you do it?

“I feel a little embarrassed now that you sum it up like that! I’m modest by nature, but I like doing what I love. I believe you can achieve anything you want if you work hard enough, and, above all, don’t forget to enjoy walking your path. Stay close to yourself and stay authentic. Things happen for a reason, coming your way when the time is right. Have patience with yourself and others. Every person has lessons to learn, meaning life won’t always be easy. Dare to fail, embrace your flaws, learn from them, and keep going.”

Simone Frank

What routines and rituals do you swear by?

“My routine is essential to me. I like mornings and get up around 6 a.m. I rarely set an alarm clock; I wake up around this time. If not, the cat will wake me up because it is in the same routine and waits for breakfast. If I have a day on set, I usually don’t stick to my routines; other days, I prep my lunch, for example. On days when I edit images at home, I first drink a large bottle of water with Celtic Sea salt and an espresso with my boyfriend. It’s our morning in bed with our cat; it sets the tone for a calm mind for the day ahead. Afterward, I exercised for an hour, after which I grabbed breakfast and started working on my laptop. At the end of the afternoon, I go out for a walk. And most importantly, in the evenings, I put my phone on airplane mode around 8 p.m. I often read and end the day with meditation. I go to bed around 10 p.m.”

Would you describe yourself as a spiritual person?

“Yes, I would say so. In recent years, I discovered my spiritual nature a little more. I had several eye-openers after reading certain books. For example, a book I read went into depth about one’s birth number, which felt right for me. It taught me that one of the lessons I must learn in life is to set boundaries.”

Does spirituality help you manage your busy day-to-day life?

“The most important thing for me is to be mentally and physically strong. I go to the gym, eat healthy, care for myself, and get enough rest. In recent years, I realized the difference between discipline and taking good care of myself. Of course, in this society, it often revolves around your participation and your job. But there’s so much more in life than work.”

Simone Frank

What has driven you to start FRANK CLAUS?

“My boyfriend, Jesse, and I obsess over beautiful clothes. For example, we love to wander into Dover Street Market in cities like London and Paris to experience fabrics and check out designs. During the pandemic, when our lives weren’t fully occupied with work (Jesse is also a photographer, red.), we tried it. We worked on the brand on the side for two years before launching it. It felt like a new hobby. We bought the fabrics at a company that sells leftover materials from all LVMH brands. It added to our story. Finding a studio was more difficult, though. The tailoring craft is not so popular these days, and we wanted an atelier close to home. After some pilot products, we weren’t happy with our first supplier – it was an expensive lesson for both of us. The studio we found afterward, Sew Crew, felt great immediately.”

How would you describe FRANK CLAUS’s aesthetic?

“Simplistic and focused on fabrics and silhouettes.”

Could you walk us through your creative process? How do you generate ideas and bring them to life?

“We often start with the fabric; we sometimes choose fabrics that are too difficult to create a specific silhouette, but in the end, it makes the piece. Jesse is very good at sketching and was often at home sewing his clothes, so he has the most knowledge when it comes to design. We usually take fabric and a sketch to Sew Crew to create a good item. They draw the patterns and build and sample. We often adjust from the sample and thus arrive at the correct item together. It was great fun to choose a mood board and models for our first shoot and to be able to photograph it together.”

Creativity often thrives in collaborative environments. How do you experience this? Are you more of a solo worker, or do you flourish within a team?

“By nature, I am not a great team player. Sometimes, I have something in my head that must be executed in a certain way. I’ve already pictured the result before starting the project. I used to translate my ideas in self-initiated shoots. Finding the right people who share my vision has been invaluable. I need a team to achieve the desired result: the model, the location, the styling, the hair, and the make-up. I am so glad I now have a team of people I enjoy working with. We are attuned to each other, so the output is always sound. I recommend this to anyone starting; gather the right people around you.”

What drawbacks did you experience along the way? What have they taught you?

“I learned the most valuable lessons in my career in my first job after college. I worked there for three years and did several jobs in one. I was exhausted after those years, but I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to miss this. I worked on many different projects there and gained much knowledge in 3 years. I went far beyond my boundaries and found myself in a different position. In the end, I was exhausted. On top of it, my father became ill, and that was the final straw for me to stop everything. I temporarily left my room in Amsterdam to live with my mother and quit my job. It was a valuable period for me.”

And what’s the best part of doing the work you do?

“It is challenging to pick one thing since it combines several things. My work is varied and gives me freedom. I love being self-employed, planning my time, setting goals, and sticking to them. I also enjoy meeting people. You can get so excited about a conversation with people you meet. That touches me the most.”

What’s the one moment in your career that you will never forget?

“There have been several goosebump moments. At the end of 2022, I received a message from a stylist from the same village where I grew up. Unfortunately, her father had passed away – he also was a photographer. He shot everything analogously, and she said she would like to gift his camera to me. That was such an incredible gesture. I had never shot analog before, but I always found it fascinating. A few weeks later, an email from one of my favorite magazines, JANE, asked if I wanted to make an editorial, but everything had to be analog. It’s bizarre how it came together like that. With my friend Danique Dobbe, a stylist, we decided to develop a concept and went for it. I hadn’t even tested the camera yet, so it was exciting. I immediately got goosebumps when I received the digital scans in my email. The lighting and colors turned out perfectly. It is still one of my favorite shoots, and that’s not only because of the result but due to how everything came together.”

What are you most proud of?

“Humans should not hold on too much to feel proud of a particular achievement but to feel a certain pride in general. Today, right now, be proud of yourself and others. You can also handle this for others if you feel proud of yourself. At an earlier stage in my life, I could sometimes feel insecure, and sometimes, judgments about certain situations would arise, making it very easy to reflect on my feelings. When you become aware of this, you can let go of these beliefs and thoughts and adjust your behavior accordingly.”

Simone Frank

What excites you most about the future?

“That you don’t know what will happen; everything is a mystery. I never really worry about where I see myself in 5 years, but I mainly try to live now. Of course, it is nice to have goals and achieve them, to daydream about the idea of living on a small farm with lots of animals in the garden haha, to make beautiful trips, etc., to become a lot wiser every year, but the mystique of not knowing grips me. As I said above, I used to be able to daydream and visualize things visually, and I still do that regularly.”