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Style to Inspire: Jessica Pakzad Bennett

Today I’m thrilled to introduce you to the brilliant Jessica Bennett of Jessica Bennett Interiors. A fellow USC graduate, I recently discovered Jessica had started her own design firm, and the minute I saw some shots of her portfolio, I knew I simply had to feature her work here on the site (case in point: though Jessica Bennett Interiors was only recently founded, Jessica’s work has already been featured on a Design*Sponge Before + After)!

Talented, driven, and smart, Jessica is a great inspiration to young women venturing into any type of creative business. Take it away, Jessica…

Hometown: Newport Beach, California

Current City: Newport Beach, California (It is heaven on Earth and you can’t get me to move!)

Where to find online: Website, Facebook

Describe your personal style

Tailored, elegant, sophisticated, comfortable

How did you become interested in interior design?

I’ve grown up in this business with two designer-builder parents. As an only child, I followed my parents wherever they went: to their office, on buying trips, and on all their jobsites. I don’t know if it was osmosis or just good ol’ fashioned genetics but I definitely got the design bug from them.

What motivated you to start your own business?

I’ve always had a passion and a knack for business. Whether it was starting umpteen small businesses as a kid, or actually playing “pretend” business for hours, I just loved every part of it. I fostered that passion by going to USC’s business school and studying at the Lloyd Grief Center for Entrepreneurial Studies where my interior design business plan finished in the Top 20 Business Plans and I won the Entrepreneurial Spirit Award.

After school, I ran the Operations and Accounting divisions of my family business for four years. It was after that that I felt confident that I could actually do it for myself, start my own business from the ground up, and put my own neck on the line. I was working so hard at my family business, that I knew I wanted to invest that time, energy, and love into something that I had complete control and direction over. It’s scary but amazing all at the same time!

What is the best thing about your line of work? The most challenging?

The best part is when you have those days when you are completely absorbed in the design process. The days when your only focus is installing your client’s new living room, accessorizing it, changing it around until it’s perfect and you can present it proudly to its new owners.

The most challenging part is managing and balancing all of the aspects that go into delivering that finished project: the client’s expectations, my perfectionism, the all-important budget, the inevitable product delays and backorders, and the vision I have in my head.

What advice would you give to young women interested in starting a business or seeking out opportunities in the design world (or both)?

Do it! But do it intelligently. Go out and learn from the best first. Start at the bottom of the business you are interested in and work your way up. Observe the owners or head haunchos at the company. What can you learn from them? What would you do differently?

And always remember that as much as we glamorize being the “boss,” it comes with many complications and responsibilities that you are unaware of until you do it yourself. It is hard work, but ultimately very rewarding.

What keeps you inspired? How do you stay creative?

As simple as it sounds, I love walking through stores like IKEA, Pottery Barn, and Restoration Hardware for inspiration. It’s not so much to be inspired by a specific design idea but just to be inspired by how intelligently they sell their products, how clever they are in their design and presentation, and how smoothly their operations run.

I also of course subscribe to all of the major design magazines so I get a healthy dose of inspiration from seeing others at their best and what’s going on in the industry. The most inspiring place for me to be is seeing a new client’s space for the first time, measuring it, taking photos, getting to know my clients’ likes and dislikes, and then going back to the office, closing my eyes, and seeing what appears! I only hope that vision never goes away!

Color?

Black, white, red

Designer?

Fashion: Valentino (I’ve promised myself that one day I will be able to afford to wear Valentino everyday!).

Valentino Fall RTW 2010

Valentino's recent SS 2011 show

Interior Designer: Hard one!!! I adore Barbara Barry and Nancy Corzine…they are probably the most powerful women in my industry. Not only do I love and admire their taste and design, but also their business saavy and work ethic.

"A Barbara Barry Renovation," originally featured in Metropolitan Home

A selection of works and furniture designed by Nancy Corzine

Restaurant?

Does pizza delivery count? ‘Cause that really is my favorite….

Place to travel?

Give me a white sandy beach, clear blue water, a piña colada and I’m set….I don’t care which time zone, continent or hemisphere!

What are the five musts in your purse/handbag everyday and why?

iPhone – So I can always be reached and reach others, whether it’s by phone, text, email, or Facebook

Keys with Valentino leopard mini-wallet keychain — (My first and only Valentino item! It was a gift.) I love how I can just grab my keys and my ID and basic credit cards come with it! Makes it so easy to just run into the store to pick up something fast without lugging in my luggage-sized purse

Day Planner – So I never have to say, “Oh let me check my calendar when I’m back at the office.” I want to have control over my schedule at all times! Yes, I have an iPhone, but I won’t let go of my old fashioned Kate Spade day planner. It’s just a new version of the same one I’ve been using since high school! My friends won’t let me live it down….

Makeup Bag – I HATE being caught off guard and my makeup bag has EVERYTHING in it….flossers, nail file, QTips, Band-aids, the works.

Sunglasses (in their case!) – My eyes start tearing up if I’m outside without my beloved sunglasses…and I always keep them in their case to protect them from scratching and warping in my huge purse.

{Image Credits (top of post to bottom)}

{Jessica Bennett Interiors logo, portrait and portfolio all courtesy of Jessica Bennett; Valentino Fall 2010 RTW, Elle.com; Valentino SS 2011, New York Magazine; “A Barbara Barry Renovation,” ElleDecor.com; Nancy Corzine portfolio, Things That Inspire; Pizza, Slice; Beach images, clockwise from top left: National Geographic, Jose Villa, National Geographic, Pretty Stuff}

2 Responses

  1. Oh wow, I do remember this post. I wonder why I didn’t comment.

    How funny, I’ve met Jessica. She was also one of the designers who did that women’s shelter project I worked on back in the summer. She’s super sweet.

  2. oh, very useful and interest things to learn! hope to see more of this!

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