How to Transfer Your Corporate Skills to the Creative World

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Thanks to Vogue-poached stylist Julia Green.

Styling by Julia Green for Greenhouse Interiors. Photography by Annette O’Brien.

A chance encounter while selling a couch steered Julia Green from a successful 17-year stint in the pharmaceuticals industry to a celebrated career in styling.

The buyer took a keen interest in Julia’s home, and asked her who styled it.

“First I asked him what a stylist was, then I laughed and told him I did it myself,” she says.

It turns out he was a photographer for Vogue – and the person responsible for giving Julia her first styling job six months later.

“Long story short, I’ve been running from job to job ever since,” she says. “I’m an accidental stylist.”

Styling by Julia Green for Greenhouse Interiors. Photography by Armelle Habib.

Now in demand across the country, she also heads up Greenhouse Interiors, her agency that represents almost 30 artists including Society of Wanderers and Armelle Habib.

As well as a “shitload of hard work”, the eternal optimist credits her corporate background for giving her the upper hand when she crossed over to follow her lifelong passion of working in a creative field.

“I was in a time warp in my old industry, but as time flew by, I was having a go at anything that came my way, so I ended up learning a bit of everything.” she says. “I did sales, marketing, management, communications, whatever I could.”

You might not have a Vogue photographer knocking at your door, but there are many ways to pursue your passion and transfer your skills across to a new field. We asked for Julia’s advice to help you if you’re considering taking the leap.

1. Do a personal survey, and find out what you’re good at

Identify which transferable skills you’ve already got. And you will have many more than you think, says Julia. “You’ve been learning stuff for years in your career, so you will know much more stuff than you think,” she says. “You’ve evolved in this past life and you’ll be able to contribute richly with these skills. For me, it turns out that being a good saleswoman in the pharmaceutical industry was a huge asset because it helped me sell myself and win more work over my competitors.”

2. Reignite your confidence

A lack of confidence is a major factor that can hold you back from your purpose. Julia says if you don’t have the confidence to push forward with your idea, you should seek helpful reinforcement. “Get honest opinions from your peers, from people who are going to give it to you straight,” she says. “You don’t want to waste your time, so you need the truth at this point.”

Styling by Julia Green for Greenhouse Interiors. Photography by Armelle Habib.

3. Find the recipes that worked for others

“You can’t just say, ‘I’m going to be a stylist because I love styling’ and expect to be successful tomorrow,” Julia says. You have to have a strategy, and to fuel that strategy it’s worth learning from others who have been there before. Network, attend workshops or contact people you admire. “Do your homework,” she says. “You want to make sure it’s the space for you.”

4. Don’t work with arseholes

True to form, Julia practises what she preaches, with these exact words written on a poster proudly hanging in her home. “Life’s too short,” she says. “I’m pushing 50 and I simply don’t have time for arseholes. I have a deep level of respect for everyone we work with, and I’m still staggered that approach doesn’t exist in all workplaces.”

5. Sometimes you have to push things into place

While her career was kickstarted by a chance encounter, the years that have followed have been full of gritty, hard work. “I’ve hardly been to bed in the past eight years,” she laughs. “I’ll never pretend it’s been easy, because it hasn’t.” But that hasn’t stopped her making the most of every opportunity. “This pursuit has evolved into so many different things and I’ve had a crack at most things in my space. One thing always leads to another; I swear it feels like I am on a natural form of steroids.”

6. Get shit done

This one’s pretty simple: stop talking, and walk the walk. “My husband and I live by the mantra: ‘We’re not gonnas, we’re doers’,” she says. “If you want a job done, give it to me. I get shit done.”

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