stylist & visual merchandiser jessica bellef

Jessica Bellef believes styling isn’t just an art form. It's a science too. Her theory is based on years of working as a stylist and visual merchandiser, as well as through her degree studies in marketing and psychology. And while Jessica says she went into visual merchandising to make stores "look pretty", she soon learnt to make decisions based on sales results and analysis of customer interaction. Her skill set has seen her work for Australia's largest shopping centre chain Westfield as well as, more recently, online shopping site Temple & Webster.

Which five words best describe you? Determined, loyal, fidgety, organised, hungry.

How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? After uni I dabbled in the world of marketing but the creative bug pulled me into visual merchandising (VM) for fashion retailers. On top of my full-time VM position, I took on extra work assisting with displays for Westfield. I was working a squillion hours a week, but kept at it. Pretty soon I was able to leave the full time position and go freelance. I jumped at every chance to take on interior styling jobs. I took on a teaching position at Whitehouse Institute of Design and helped develop the interiors and VM component of their styling degree. Through Whitehouse I met Chris Deal, now creative director of Temple & Webster. We quickly formed a creative unit with photographer Denise Braki, and started shooting our butts off. We've only been working together for a year, but looking at the output it feels like we've been together for decades. We've come a long way in a very short amount of time, which is exciting.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? Sometimes plan but sometimes wing it. You can plan something to the ninth degree but often the best ideas happen in the moment. There's nothing better than a happy mistake!

What’s your proudest career achievement? Seeing my work appear on the pages of Belle, House & Garden, Inside Out and in Temple & Webster’s first run of ads. These are magazines I just love, and it's a thrill to make even the smallest mark. Also, receiving the Whitehouse Sessional Teacher of the Year Award as voted by the students. Sharing knowledge is so rewarding and I am content in knowing I have had a hand in motivating young talent.

What’s been your best decision? Taking a massive leap of faith and ditching that marketing job all those years ago. Something clicked and I had an instinctual urge to find a way to do what I love doing all day, everyday. It's hard work and it never stops, but the sense of satisfaction I get is definitely worth it. The learning never stops either, which is perfect for me, because as soon as I stop learning I get bored.

Who inspires you? The talented and passionate people I work with. I owe a lot to retail designer Eileen Kamp, who took me under her wing many years ago. The Aussie interiors industry is bursting with talent - every mag I open, every Instagram update I see, every blog post I click on inspires me in some way or another. Glen Proebstel, Sibella Court, Vanessa Colyer Tay, Megan Morton... the list goes on and on. Go Aussies!

What are you passionate about? Supporting my talented friends. Interiors with character. Buying second hand. Pretty pictures. Making sure I have a good laugh at least once a day. Punctuating conversations with movie quotes. Finding beauty in unlikely places. Learning something new each and every day.

Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? Steve Martin. I've been a big fan since I saw The Three Amigos and would probably break into a rendition of “My Little Buttercup” if I were to meet him.

What dream do you still want to fulfil? Live and work overseas(hello NYC!)and generally more travel. Sweden is next on the list!

What are you reading? The Body by Hanif Kureishi, Kinfolk magazine, all the Australian shelter mags, Freunde Von Freunden.

images courtesy of jessica bellef and temple & webster