If there is anyone to take fashion advice from, it’s Jo Phua. Over the past few years her blog Bam it’s Joanne has gained international recognition across the world, opening up doors for the young, ambitious blogger. We sat down with her on a beautiful spring day in Paddington, Sydney were we got chatting about fashion, travel and career goals.
On a beautiful sunny day in Sydney, I was standing on the edge of the road in Paddington, where I received a wave from across the road by a very stylish looking young lady. It was a year and a half ago that I had first met Joanna Phua, a student studying a degree in Commerce (majoring in accounting and economics) at Sydney University. Our first encounter was on a photo shoot in an old “bachelor pad” apartment during a muggy summers day. This time we were meeting in the stylish realm of Sydney’s “upper class” lifestyle where we would spend the next hour strolling around the suburban streets, taking photos in gowns from GlamCorner by Bronx and Banco, Tadashi Shoji and Alex Perry. Afterwards we sat down for a late lunch at a café down a quite laneway away from the noise of bustling traffic. With the sun on our faces and a fairly decent mix of Coldplay songs on repeat, we began chatting away like two old friends.
Joanna is one busy girl. At the zealous age of 23, she’s already travelled most of the world, incorporating her background in business and passion for digital marketing and styling. Back in 2012, she founded FABSOC, a university fashion society sponsored by GlamCorner, which aims to create an artistic identity for university student. Her blog, Bam It’s Joanne, has grown popular over the years where she posts photos of her everyday style and gives eager readers an incite into the energetic fashion industry. Just recently, she’s returned from a blissful 2 months away in Europe where she worked with a consulting company who’s cliental include the likes of Victoria Beckham and Tori Burch. Her talents in styling got her the gig of consulting for digital marketing and visual merchandise where she was given the freedom to change up the store layout for BLOH, a ballet, active wear brand based in Paris. And if that wasn’t keeping her busy enough, she also helped design an upcoming collection for them, (coming to stores internationally next year.)“The power that they gave me was incredible” Jo said when speaking about the companies CEO, “he said to me, ‘You are my target market, so whatever you say is what my customers want.’ It would be so amazing if other businesses could think and understand this.”
In a world where social media reigns supreme, numerous businesses are beginning to adapt by bringing in younger, talented youth to help engage with their target market. “During the days I was sending through photos and designs to producers in LA, it was all so surreal” she said with dreamy eyes.
But beneath all the glamour and luxury of the fashion districts in Paris, Jo was determined to budget her trip and experienced the mundane lifestyle of sleeping in cars to save on hotel expenses and even at one point she gave hitchhiking a go. She described the experience as a “cool way to live". “At one point the train we were looking at taking to our next destination was going to cost us 20 euro. There was no way I was paying that for a half hour journey! So we got the lady at the train station to write on a bit of cardboard for us and went out onto the road, which was pretty much deserted, and tried finding someone who could give us a ride. After 20 minutes this BMW pulls up near us and a middle aged man who can barely speak any English got out and offered to drive us to where we needed to go. We were a little nervous at first but the man explained that when he was younger he use to hitchhike and understood how we felt and wanted to return the favour. It was totally risky for us to accept his offer but everything worked out fine! It’s cool to think back to “what if” we had just gave in and paid the train fee? If we had we wouldn’t have had that experience.”
Of course one of the main questions on my mind was out of all the places that Jo had travelled to in Europe, which was her favourite?
“Monte Carlo for sure!” she said without hesitation, “it’s so clean and peaceful, a place where you can just go to chill out. It would be a dream to live there! ”Monte Carlo, located in the South of France is a fairy tale paradise enjoyed by keen tourists and lived in by the super rich. And of course, with her resume of traveling I had to ask where she was planning to go next. “I’m thinking South America around February. I have a friend whose family live over there so I’m looking forward to experiencing a different cultured lifestyle.”
Now back on homeland, Jo is kept busy with finishing her commerce degree, working with Louis Vuitton part time and has also been presented with a new exciting career opportunity. “Just before I left for Europe, I got an email from a representative of Westfield asking to meet up to discuss work with them. We met the next day for lunch and I thought it was going to be an interview for a job but they were already discussing what they wanted me to do and when I could start work- it was crazy!” From Paris she was sent paperwork and contracts to sign and with that the day after she flew home she was already starting her first day of work as the resident stylist for Westfield. She describes the role as her dream job.
Even though Jo’s background has been studying in finance for the past 4 years, it’s clear to see that her love for fashion and styling is reflected in her everyday lifestyle. “I don’t fit into any particular “style bucket” that the fashion industry categorizes people into, but I like it that way” she tells me when I ask about describing to me her own fashion style. “I’m somewhere between androgynous and feminine, boho and modern, trendy and classic.” One of my favourite qualities in Jo is that she’s not always looking at what the big brands or A list fashion stars are doing. “I’m inspired by anonymous street style, especially now that fashion week is happening on the other side of the world. I’m more interested in seeing what the “nameless” fashion attendees are showing as they often have the best taste in style from their personal wardrobes.”
Before parting ways on the streets of Paddington, there was one more question I had on my mind that I was personally eager to get her opinion on. Coming into a new season brings new fashion styles and trends, so I posed the question to her- what could she recommend for women to have in their wardrobes to stay on trend for this spring season? She listed of three essentials: “A good pair of laced-up flats or sandals, a long line vest for spring layering and silk necktie that goes with everything.”
Follow Joanna Phua:
- Facebook: /fabsoc.sydney