The career of a stylist often comes about by way of some other profession. For Sydneysider John Mangila, it was graphic design. After completing his studies, he went to Inside Out magazine for work experience and ended up changing careers. Shortly afterwards he became the in-house stylist for Home Beautiful magazine, and then took a detour via floristry and photography. Now he is back styling full time and working with a range of publications and companies such as Quintessential Duckegg Blue and Shibori Textiles.

Which five words best describe you? Calm, collected, beauty-loving creative.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I studied graphic design and while on work experience at Inside Out magazine I discovered styling. I assisted for a year before working full time at Home Beautiful. I stopped styling for a few years to indulge my love for photography while juggling floristry, visual merchandising and interior decoration. I’ve been back styling as a freelancer now for about three years.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned along the way? Not everyone is going to love what you do, and that’s ok; but doing what you love is the best motivation.

What’s your proudest career achievement? I still get such a thrill from every single job that I take on; most days work really feels more like play. Recently I styled a small section of the latest book from Oz Harvest, an amazing organisation that makes meals for the needy from excess restaurant supplies. To be able to give back to the community, even in a small way is pretty rewarding.

What’s been your best decision? Every time I have been fearless enough to risk failure, I have been wonderfully pleased.

Who inspires you? Through my blog on Sydney florists, I have met and become friends with the most amazing bunch of people. Their talent, work ethic and their absolute love and joy from flowers inspire me endlessly.

What are you passionate about? Family, food and flowers!

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? It’s been almost half my lifetime since my mum’s passing. I would dearly love to meet her again so I can catch her up on everything that has made me happy over the years, and the things I’ve tried to do to make her proud.

What dreams do you still want to fulfill? Style and photograph a series of books; nothing too big!

What are you reading? I read pictures more than words. Currently feasting on Hans Blomquist’s new book, In Detail; and Makoto Azuma and Shunsuke Shiinoki’s Encyclopedia of Flowers

images courtesy of john mangila; photography sharyn cairns (top), sam mcadam cooper (images 2, 3, 4) and justin nacua (portrait)