How can you not love Julian Jamie Alessandroni? Anyone who’s ever worked with Julian, had class with her, or even talked to her for two minutes will tell you that her positive attitude is infectious and her style inspired. What we love about Julian (even more than her clothes!) is her ability to make anyone smile. Emma first met Julian when they were the new girls at NRML, an independent streetwear store and Ottawa fixture. Since then, Julian’s transformed her part-time sales associate job into a career as a buyer at a Toronto boutique, and now she’s even starting her own personal shopping business on the side. This week she’s heading to New York City for back-to-back trade shows! We caught up with Julian to ask her how she worked her way up, how she decides what to buy, and what she wants to do in life more than anything.
Thanks to the talented Emily Monroe for this gorgeous shot!
What made you want to work in fashion?
I’ve always loved clothes! I’ve always loved fashion and art, and I was raised in a really artistic household, like both my parents are actors and my mom’s a seamstress so she really got me into fashion. Once I began studying at university I wanted to keep busy, so I applied for a part-time retail job at The Gap, and that got me into visual merchandising. I just worked my way up and realized that this was the industry I really wanted to get into.
I also think, honestly, the more I’ve gotten into the industry the more I’ve realized how materialistic and how superficial it is. I honestly think that if you’re passionate about something, and you have a good heart, you can succeed in it. I find it interesting and intriguing all the different people I meet, and it can be challenging, but I get to see so many different kinds of personalities, and I always feel like there’s more. I really feel like I can achieve more in the industry. Like I don’t have to be a buyer for the rest of my life, I can be a creative director, or open my own brand, or style, and I’m also a personal shopper on the side which keeps me busy. That’s the thing—fashion is always challenging and you have to stay on-trend to be a good buyer but frankly, you just have to have a good eye. I think it’s such a creative job. It makes me happy!
Julian’s old room in Ottawa was a messy, colourful reflection of her personality.
What did you study at school?
I studied English and theatre, and theatre got me into set design which led me into visual merchandising. I started working full-time and doing school part-time when I became the visual merchandiser for NRML. Working for an independently-owned shop really made me more aware of how the business works, and that got me into consignment buying. I was in charge of buying for local designers and that’s when I really decided I wanted to be a buyer.
What do you like about personal shopping?
I love getting to know my clients. Being a full-time sales associate in the past made me realize how good I am at connecting with people, I’m really good at being able to get to know a person, their occupation, what they love, where they like to eat, what their favourite thing to do is, and that’s really what defines someone’s style. It’s not just what they like to wear, it’s what they like to do and what inspires them—that really controls their style. I find that I can show someone’s personality through what I choose for them to wear. It does just keep me busy and it’s good because I’m very young, and this industry is competitive, but when I personal shop I get to meet people and network.
What do you like about buying for a boutique?
That is also challenging. I’ll never forget when I had one interview and they asked me to define my style and I literally sat there blank because I couldn’t define it and they started getting frustrated. Then I realized that because I don’t really define my style it helps me be a decent buyer. I’m still very new to this, I’ve only been a buyer for about six months, but I love channeling a shop’s overall aesthetic into what I buy. It’s not necessarily what I like but it’s what I know will sell. I get paid to shop! It’s the best fucking job in the world!
What’s your dream job?
To be a mom!
I think because I have one of the best mothers in the world, and I know everyone says that, but she was just so incredibly independent, and she always supported my dreams. She used to say when I was younger that I should be a buyer! Since I was like four! I think she was more happy when I got this job than I was. I think being a mom is the most beautiful and… what’s the word when it’s good for you?
REWARDING! The most rewarding job ever. Like, you make a human. My parents are the most inspiring people in my life. I always looked up to them, and they always supported me, and I know it sounds silly but I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for them. Ever since I was little I knew I had to be a mom. And that would be my dream job.
What advice would you give a girl who wanted to work in the fashion industry?
Stay fucking true to yourself! Don’t let anyone tell you what you’re wearing is ugly or out of season. You gotta live and breathe fashion, and by saying that I don’t necessarily mean that you’re on blogs everyday or reading the latest magazines. Fashion and style are in everything. You have to be really passionate and really want it. Realize that it’s not about the money, don’t expect money, you gotta do it if you want to do it.
I know you hate defining your style, but how do you use fashion to express yourself?
Well, 99% of the time I have greasy hair and no make-up on. A lot of people say that your make-up and your hair is what makes you, but I’d rather put the time and energy into my attire, what I’m wearing, the shoes I’m wearing. And if it doesn’t match, it doesn’t match. That doesn’t mean that it looks silly. Coming back to my mom, she always said I was bohemian chic, because I am a hippie at heart but I also like expensive and nice things. That definitely goes back to the fact that I’m a Gemini, so there are definitely two sides to me. I love looking like a bum, but I also love to dress up in heels sometimes. I like that I have an open-mind when it comes to style. I’m not gonna shut a look down because it wouldn’t go with my wardrobe. I don’t think I’ve got one piece where I thought, ‘Oh, this would look good with this.’ I’ve never done that in my life. If I like something, I get it. If you looked at my closet, you’d honestly be like, ‘What the fuck?’ It doesn’t make sense at all. The brands don’t go together, like nothing goes together. I don’t make sense! It keeps it interesting and it never limits me.
Keep up with Jules and her nonsensical style on Instagram.