No matter how much energy you spend plotting out your life, things never go exactly to plan. Most of the time, that’s a good thing. Predictability is boring. A life without surprises is one without excitement, and no one can attest to that fact more than our very own Design & Marketing Coordinator, Jane O’Sullivan.
As a little girl sat at the foot of her grandmother’s sewing machine in Lebanon, she spent hours dreaming of all the beautiful things she would one day create. Jane loved seeing the way that people completely transformed in her grandmother’s dressmaking studio, and she wanted to follow in that same vein of inspiring and inventing.
Now, Jane is the guiding force behind the stunning illustrations and designs you find across everything The Portfolio Collective does. This is how she found her way to our team.
A guiding spark of passion
“Storytelling has been a big part of how I interact with people and how I interact with the world around me. That’s led me to want to be able to help others tell their stories.”
Long before Jane was helping shape the visual identity of TPC, she was stitching together garments from scraps of fabric her grandmother left behind. Fashion was a big part of her upbringing. She was born in Lebanon, but moved to Ireland when she was nine. Once there, she found her niche in the theatre community and got involved with costume design.
That passion followed her through her whole life, which is why she decided to study fashion at university. This had been Jane’s dream from a very young age, but, like most people discover when they attend university, she realised there was a whole host of other paths she could be taking, and she was curious to explore her options.
“I was so grateful for the skills I was learning at university, not just creative skills but also things like resilience and being mindful about the decisions that I make for my life and career. There are so many exciting creative fields and I wanted to be sure that I was pursuing the right one. So I had a choice – do I quit and change or use this time to explore different avenues that I can go down using the creative skillset I build during my studies?”
She decided to finish the programme and learn as much as possible, going on to win an award for her final university project. From there, she knew she was ready to try out a few different options.
Finding a new focus
Creativity was still an important aspect of Jane’s career aspirations, which was why she explored a range of internships in theatre and marketing during her third year at university. She picked up a few costume design roles with productions in London and Ireland, which allowed her to hand-craft garments using innovative methods. She was also keen to explore a slightly more strategic position in marketing, and was thrilled to find an exciting opportunity abroad that honoured her love for fashion and allowed her to explore a new side of that industry.
“I felt like I was really sucked into a bubble. When it came to my internship year, I needed a shift in perspective. I needed to see what else was out there and see the potential of what I could do with my skills. When I saw a marketing opportunity to work with weavers in Guatemala, I just jumped at it. I loved the idea that these weavers had formed their own cooperative and taken ownership of the textiles and handmade products they produce. That really sparked something in me.”
Jane spent several months in Guatemala as a marketing intern working closely with traditional weavers, not only learning the methods they used, but also helping them to expand their reach and share their creations around the world. She loved sharing this cultural tradition with people from other countries, and the experience taught her how to apply her creativity in new ways.
“I suddenly realised I loved the strategic side of marketing as much as the creative work – it was great thinking about things as a whole rather than just one tactical aspect of the business.”
An exciting new sense of direction
From there, Jane went back to university and finished up her final year. She knew she wanted to work in marketing, but in a way that allowed her to apply her artistic abilities. So she spent the next few months learning graphic design, picking up projects for friends and family along the way.
Once Jane felt a bit more confident, she started applying for design internships. That’s when she discovered an opening at The Portfolio Collective.
“Although I didn’t really know what a portfolio career was when I first came across TPC, I did some research and something just clicked. It’s something I’ve always done naturally, even within my very brief career path after university. I was already using my skillset to explore different avenues and routes.”
When Jane joined, the platform hadn’t even been built yet. She was tasked with designing slides for the Catapult course, but in traditional start-up style, things escalated quickly. Within two weeks, she went from intern to full-time employee. Now, she creates illustrations, videos, presentations, GIFs, and so much more.
“It’s really evolved. Design is still a massive part of my role, but I do a lot more work now within marketing – a lot of idea creation for campaigns. The most recent thing I’ve started learning is User Experience (UX) design. I really see how much value I can give to the company through that and it’s something I’ve always been interested in. It’s a field that ties into a lot of different areas.”
Always exploring new paths and opportunities
More than anything, Jane is excited about the boundless possibility the future holds. She knows she wants to continue building a portfolio career, but what that looks like is still work in progress. No matter what she does, she will ensure it’s tailor-made to her passions. For now, it’s all about crafting a great experience for our members.
“I love seeing how much of an impact we’re having on the community. That’s really inspirational. We’ve got such a strong brand and it’s really exciting to see how it’s grown since I started. I want to be more involved in translating that across everything we do. Sort of like a brand police. I’d love it to be a coherent, distinctive brand you look at and you know what it is instantly.”
Until then, she’ll continue strengthening those UX skills and play a key part in the evolution of our platform. She’s also helping to tell our members’ stories, which is a highly rewarding part of her work.
Want to learn more about our team?
Don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of stories to share – and we’re continuing to grow! So there’s more where this came from. We’re so proud of the team we’ve built, and we look forward to providing you more juicy insights into all the things that makes them so brilliant.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can discover your own path and refine your story, consider coming along to our Intro to Portfolio Careers Workshop or our Building Your Brand Story Masterclass. We’d love to learn more about you!