After graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in Business Administration, Jennifer began working in corporate events. However, it was during her time as a ﬂight attendant for Alaska Airlines, that her interest in design became re-invigorated. She started working on some of her own design projects and realized she wanted to formalize her education. After some research, she found and was accepted to the Parsons AAS program and headed to New York. “I was riding by in a taxi”, she said, “and as we passed Parsons I said to myself, I’m going to go there”. And sure enough she did!
Shortly after graduating from Parsons in 2005, Jen started her own design company in New York and quickly gained a following of clients such as Colette Malouf and the Chelsea Art Museum. With her increased notoriety, she was contacted by Target, who offered her a job as senior art director at their headquarters in Minneapolis. It was there that Jennifer found her stride. Working at Target gave Jennifer the opportunity to have a hand in many aspects of design, including creating catalogs, directing of photo shoots, collaborating with designers and leading castings in New York and Los Angeles. She also headed up some of the larger campaigns such as Club Wed, and was a part of the “Big Idea” committee.
With all the expansive knowledge she gained while working at Target, and after a brief tenure as VP of operations at an online invitation company in Los Angeles, she became Creative Director for the Canadian clothing company Joe Fresh. It was her team that was tasked with launching the brand in the US, and she oversaw the re-branding of the website, gave extensive photo direction, and made Joe Fresh a staple in the US, all in less than six months!
In her next position as VP of Creative at West Elm, Jennifer led a team to develop monthly catalogs, digital design, packaging and signage.
Most recently Jennifer’s entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and she launched together with business partner Jen Worthington, bella j. , a lifestyle beauty / gift brand of over 25 beautifully packaged products that are sold online, at Nordstrom and various boutiques. The brand is playful and colorful and comes to life with Sujean Rim‘s illustrations (another Parsons alumni). Inside each product is a hidden charm with some of the candles even containing a $10,000 diamond necklace – its the Cracker Jack / Willy Wonka of beauty gifts! They even sell notebooks in some beautiful patterns which are great for sketching! Parsons students take note!
Here are bella-j. candles on the Today Show as Jill Martin’s featured choices for Mother’s Day perfect gifts!
For those people who are interested in taking a left turn in their career, Jennifer is a shining example of what can be done with a little bit of bravery and a lot of creativity. “I learned so much at Parsons AAS Graphic Design and was inspired by some so many of the professors”, she said. When asked if she had any regrets, she simply stated “No regrets!” !
Q: I wish I’d known before I started…
A: That you didn’t need to know anything about graphic design before you start! The Parsons AAS GD program is so comprehensive.
Q: What is your favorite typeface?
A: It’s a really hard decision, but right now I’ve been loving the clean lines of Brandon Grotesque Light.
Q: What advice do you have for students who are just starting out?
A: Do as many internships as you can. You’ll learn so much in the classroom but it’s just as important to know how to apply your skills in real life.
Interview by Kiel Guba, AAS GD
Photography and edit: Katarzyna Gruda