Three years ago Jackie Brown didn’t know her job existed. But assisting interior stylist Sarah Ellison changed all of that. “Since then my career has escalated quite rapidly and, seemingly, effortlessly, which I take as a message from the universe. Yes. You are exactly where you need to be,” she says. And so where is she? At the moment Sydney-based Jackie is styling interiors for Real Living magazine every issue. Landing covers. Working for advertising clients. A long way from her days as an actor, massage therapist and bus driver, although she says, it’s all been part of the fun.

Which five words best describe you? Fortunate, happy, dorky, strong, hungry - I’m always hungry. For knowledge, love, words, experience, beauty, Cherry Ripes...

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I am a bit of a late starter, actually. I was many things before I was a stylist. I was fortunate enough to spend several years travelling the world doing all sorts of things for a buck- I worked as an actor and a massage therapist and a bus driver! I had a lot of fun doing all these different "jobs" but was a bit lost in terms of a "career". A few years ago when I returned to Australia, I went back to school to study interior design, and whilst I was studying I took it upon myself to organise some work experience at Real Living magazine. Whilst I was there, I did some writing for the mag and Deb mentioned she'd love to have someone who was passionate about writing and interiors on the team. A couple of months later, an opportunity came along for me to take on the role of editorial coordinator. I let Deb know I was interested in the styling side of things and she took the risk and gave me a shoot. It snowballed from there. That first shot is still one of my faves. I eventually left the role as ed co to pursue styling, was freelancing for a while, and now am back on the wonderful Real Living team where I started. Lovely how these things come around.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I'm learning every single day. Most recently I learned that you always need to counterweight a boom arm... Boom: 1. Jackie: 0. Ouch!

What’s your proudest career achievement? I am always really chuffed when I see images I have styled crop up on a blog or in a mag or on an Instagram account belonging to someone on the other side of the world. I am still pinching myself that I am getting to do what I love, so it’s always lovely to see other people - near and far - are appreciating what I am creating.

What’s been your best decision? Making the call to try and take on the styling thing full time, and put all of my energy into it. If I hadn't done that you would still know me as the girl who processes your invoices! Haha!

Who inspires you? I am inspired by, and incredibly indebted to the lady who taught me all I know about styling, the inimitable Sarah Ellison. Before I met Sarah I didn't even know my dream job existed. I was fortunate enough to be able to watch Sarah in action quite a bit when I was starting out in this industry and she is so exceptional at what she does, and was so generous and giving with her time and knowledge. I am also inspired by the Real Living team who are busting their balls at the moment churning out three magazines and who still manage to keep smiles on their sweet sleepy faces.

What are you passionate about? Interiors and food and my love. Disclaimer: Not necessarily in that order.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Author Nikki Gemmell. I want to pick at her brain! (Not in the Hannibal Lecter with a cocktail fork sense.) Her words are like little songs; she writes how I long to write. I reckon once I recovered from my initial star-struck awkwardness, we'd have quite a giggle.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? I'd love to be able to combine all the skills I have picked up along the way and do something involving interiors on TV. I would still love to do some more travel, and it would be amazing to be able to work doing what I'm doing oversees for a bit.

What are you reading? These days mostly Ikea assembly instructions. I have a Tom Robbin's (another of my faves) on my bedside, and looking forward to hopping on a plane and having a few hours to gorge on his sentences without interruption. 

images courtesy of jackie brown, maree homer, scott hawkins (portrait) and real living magazine