One thing becomes apparent after a visit to Jessica Packard’s blog: this girl’s passion for design is palpable. Jessica’s well-curated San Diego apartment (which she currently rents with her fiancé, Cody) had our jaws dropping upon first glance, as we wondered to ourselves, “Who is this girl?” Then we saw her resume, and everything fell into place.
While Jessica may have started out with a vision of herself working at a large-scale commercial design firm, it’s obvious that she’s put her ambition, education, and talent to good use and is headed down the path she was meant for. Since graduating from college in 2011, Jessica has landed the highly coveted internship position at the HGTV show Secrets from a Stylist with Emily Henderson, became co-founder and interior designer of With Love, Design, and was recently promoted to Home Stylist for West Elm (an Everygirl favorite!). All at the ripe old age of 23. Needless to say, we jumped at the chance to share her home and story with all of you. But enough from us, we’ll let her tell you the rest.
Full name: Jessica Packard
Location: San Diego, California
Current title/company: Home Stylist for West Elm / Interior Designer for With Love, Design
Educational background: Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from Oklahoma State University
Tell us about the process of finding your apartment. What sold you on the apartment that you’re currently living in?
Cody, my now fiancé, found our current apartment for us. He moved to San Diego a month before me from Oklahoma to begin work and find us a home. He ended up coming across the perfect starter apartment for us! What sold him on this specific apartment was the great location and the two spacious bedrooms.
What are your favorite/least favorite things about your home?
Favorite: I love that right when you walk through our front door, it just feels like us. As far as the home itself, I would have to say I love how with all of our windows open, we get a nice breeze through the entire apartment. I also love the location—it’s right in the middle of San Diego, and we are on a hill so the view is incredible!
Least Favorite: It’s (for the most part) your average cookie-cutter apartment with carpet and those lovely sliding mirrored closets. However, I also love a good challenge, and the cookie-cutter look certainly presents one. If I am able to mask those flaws and create a unique and inviting space, I’d say it’s a success! I must say, though, we did luck out in having hardwood flooring in our living room!
How would you describe your decorating style? Where do you look for inspiration?
I absolutely love mixing old with new. My eye is often drawn to mid-century modern and minimalist architecture. But I also have a love for more elegant, Marie-Antoinette inspired spaces. Indeed, my style is all over the board. But that is why I love what I do. I would get complacent if I stuck to one style.
My inspiration comes from many outlets, including numerous blogs, online magazines and the many incredible spaces in San Diego. I compile all of my inspiration on my blog, Oh I Design.
What is your advice to someone looking to create a unique, collected home on a budget?
To create a unique and collected home on a budget is not as tough as one may think! However, I have found I often have to cheat on fashion with interior decor. Something’s gotta give, right? The good news is that if you do happen to be on a budget (as most of us are), creating your ideal space will more than likely be a process. This means you will have to dig in and wait for all of those pieces you LOVE versus buying “stuff” just to fill the space. My advice is to embrace hand-me-downs and find a way to transform them into your style. Cody and I are far from traditional, but I love mixing traditional and classic elements with our more modern style. We received a very traditional butler stand and tray in a mahogany finish from family and have since painted it a semi-gloss white. It completely transformed the piece from traditional and a bit vanilla into something more clean and modern!
Another piece of advice is to shop around at local flea markets or vintage shops periodically. You would be amazed at what you can find and repurpose. Then there is always Pinterest. Pinterest is filled with great DIY projects—you can transform your Ikea dresser into a high-end dresser in just a few steps.
Tell us about the decorating process for your home. How long has it taken to get your home to look the way it does now?
It has taken us about a year and a half and is something I work on every single day. Our walls are still pretty blank in both of the bedrooms. But, I enjoy having an unfinished home. Cody will come home and I have moved around our coffee table or moved a vase to another room. I am constantly changing and rearranging our space, which makes it such a creative and organic space to live in.
How did you save money when decorating your house?
New mover discounts! When you change your address, you should receive a packet filled with discounts to furniture and hardware stores. Also, I constantly scope out different furniture stores and ask if they have had any recent returns or damaged merchandise. Normally, furniture stores will mark down the prices of furniture even if there is the smallest scratch or ding.
What is your favorite budget-friendly piece in your home and why?
Everything that was handed down to us from family. They were free and easy to update!
You’ve had some amazing internship opportunities! How did you receive the opportunity to be an intern on HGTV’s Secrets of a Stylist with Emily Henderson?
I have a lot of reasons to love Twitter, and this is definitely one of them. I happened to see a tweet from Emily about the internship opportunity and immediately sent an email inquiry. When I heard back from Orlando (her assistant), I almost had a heart attack! One of my favorite weekends living in California thus far!
You currently work as a Home Stylist for West Elm. Can you tell us a bit about what that job entails? How did you land that position?
The Home Stylist position is fairly new to West Elm. Before I took on this position, I was more of an in-store design specialist and our event coordinator’s assistant. As a Home Stylist, I am able to visit client’s homes on a daily basis and give design advice and offer full interior design services. In the past year, we have designed and completed three apartment models, numerous homes from start to finish, photo shoot designs and several events. I am constantly inspired by all things West Elm. It’s nice to be a part of such an inspiring company.
You are also a co-founder and interior designer at With Love, Design! Tell us about how you began your business from the ground up. How did you go about building clientele, hiring a team, and dealing with the logistics of starting and running a business? What advice would you have to others looking to do the same?
Ah, With Love, Design. I could go on and on about this question. Let me start by introducing the With Love, Design Team: Anna Eckhoff representing Tulsa; Jessie Silver, Dallas; and myself in San Diego. We met in our interior design program at college and spent many hours together working on projects. We found, collectively, we make one heck of a team! We always joked during our last months of college about starting our own interior design business. Now I can proudly say, we did it. As I was transitioning to San Diego, I had my mind set on finding a job in a large-scale commercial design firm. However, after several interviews, reading inspiring stories on my favorite blogs and meeting entrepreneurs in California, I had a change of heart.
Building a business from the ground up is a lot of work but has taught us so much. When you start freelancing, it’s important to realize you are in charge of all the nitty gritty. Everything from marketing to project management and accounting. It can be overwhelming at times. Therefore, we have weekly skype dates discussing our business goals, finances and updates on current projects.
Since we are new to the industry, our clientele has grown through social media, friends and word of mouth. We just launched our new website designed by Hey, Sweet Pea and are working on a handful of fun projects. We all have our other endeavors right now in hopes of becoming full-time designers for With Love, Design.
You relocated to San Diego after graduating from Oklahoma State University. What has that transition been like? How did you settle on that location? Any advice to other girls moving to a new city?
I have never lived anywhere other than Oklahoma, so the transition felt more like a vacation at first. I embraced being a tourist for the first couple of months! The reason for our move in the first place was because Cody received his dream Landscape Architecture job in San Diego a month before I graduated. It was the most opportune time to move and was such a great adventure. San Diego’s lifestyle, like-minded individuals, endless opportunities and beautiful surroundings make living here an absolute dream.
The biggest advice I have to give other girls moving to a new city is to take it in with an open mind. Embrace changes and missing your friends and family. You will be shocked at how much you learn about yourself. Since I made the move to San Diego, I have made the most incredible connections, started my own company, became the hostess of Creative Connection San Diego and have gained many invaluable friendships. The good news? I have so much more to learn and experience.
In what ways would you still like to see your career and company evolve?
I would love to see my career move forward with West Elm. I truly love the company and my colleagues. No matter where West Elm and With Love, Design may take me, I just want to be surrounded by people and in a creative environment. Eventually, I do hope I can become a full-time designer for my company, but for now I am in a great place!
What advice would you give to other girls coming out of college and trying to get their foot in the door in a competitive industry?
I am a huge believer in the old adage “it’s all about who you know.” Networking is key. Find a way to meet and converse with people in the industry and you will be impressed by what kind of opportunities may come your way. For example, when I moved to San Diego, I knew absolutely no one. During my transition, I was emailing Liz Beck of Liz Beck Events to inquire about an internship when I thought about going into event planning. Let’s just say I was very persistent. She ended up responding to my last email and noted how much she appreciated my resilience and asked me to come in for an interview. Next thing I know, I was one of her interns. She was there when I began Creative Connection in San Diego and helped introduce me to many creatives in the area. I will always be thankful for that opportunity.
Do not let the competitive nature of the industry intimidate you. Everyone has been in your shoes. You must always find confidence in yourself and your abilities.