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True Calling

79e4e1590d7f67f1ecc718fa10a94373 f109Was: Fashion buyer in Asia and Europe
Now: Interior Designer, Felicia Olsen for Lifestyle Design, Perth.

A Sharp eye for style and an innate understand of proportion have served Felicia Olsen well. Initially, these skills led her to a career as a fashion buyer in Singapore, where she was born and raised. Today, she draws on the same talents daily in her Perth interior design business.

"With fashion buying and interior design, you need to have an underlying love of beautiful things," says Felicia. "In fact, there are so many parallels. I think years of fashion buying have set me up with a great eye for trends."

Her fashion career began in 1980 at a Singapore department store, where she took part in an in-store training program. She was quickly propelled up the fashion-buying ranks and she spent the decade travelling the world, regularly visiting designers' showrooms in New York, Paris, Milan and London.

"I guess there was a point when I became restless with my job in Singapore," says Felicia, "and I'd always had a great love for London, so I decided to move there to try to make a go of it."Her dream was to work at department store Harvey Nichols and, sure enough, she was soon employed there – as assistant department manager of its chic designer clothing room. "It was an amazing experience. I loved being surrounded by all these beautiful garments," she says, "but it was also a lot of hard work, because it's all about making profits and no matter how good your last season is, you're starting afresh each time."

After a stint in Sri Lanka, where she liaised with Asian manufacturers for US clothing firms, she moved to Norway, then migrated to Perth in 1992 with her Norwegian husband and baby. "At the time, Perth had virtually no fashion industry to speak of," says Felicia, "so I decided to pursue a new career path. It was an easy choice, as interiors had always fascinated me."

When her daughter, Bianca, was eight years old she began retraining at TAFE and at the same time embarked on a massive renovation of her own house. Leading on from this, friends began asking her to work on their homes. "I started accepting commissions and worked for other designers before setting up my own company in 2005," she says.

Today, Felicia Olsen for Lifestyle Design is a business that takes in everything from colour consultancy to kitchen design, project management and complete renovations. "Working for myself is fantastic," says Felicia. "As a fashion buyer I learnt to be quick thinking, to listen to clients and to be good with budgets. All these things have helped in my business." And visits to the world's fashion capitals have proved invaluable too. "I'd be in beautiful cities for work and find myself admiring architecture, looking out for design quirks and noting the materials used in the showrooms of some of the world's biggest fashion designers. I think even at that point I knew I was destined for a career in interior design."

Felicia Olsen for Lifestyle Design; (08)9341 1591 or www.lifestyle.net.au.

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