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Dream Jobs: Hayley O’Neill

Amanda Whitley

“WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?”

When we’re young, many of us fantasise about being musicians or making movies; as we get older we may dream of being paid to review fine food, or working in magazines. But what’s the reality of these ‘Dream Jobs’?

Just three years ago Hayley O’Neill was a public servant with a passion for fashion. Today, she’s working with one of Australia’s most respected magazines as Fashion Office Coordinator with marie claire Australia.

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HOW DID YOU GET YOUR ‘DREAM JOB’?

In 2013 I volunteered at the very first FASHFEST, which reignited my love for fashion and I went on to study clothing production, after work hours, at the Canberra Institute of Technology. One night I had the idea to start a corporate fashion blog called The Work Diaries — I put the word out and got in touch with local creatives and started shooting editorials every weekend for the blog to create content. This became a digital portfolio and landed me a meeting with the management at Westfield Belconnen, who gave me an opportunity to grow as a stylist.

After a year, I took the biggest risk of my life
and quit my job in the public service to pursue 
a career as a stylist. I started driving to Sydney on a weekly basis to study at Fashion Business Institute and intern at marie claire Australia, whilst also working as fashion editor at HerCanberra and freelancing as a fashion assistant for Aileen Marr, a Sydney-based stylist.

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I spent the entire year studying, interning, working and driving back and forth weekly.
 I don’t quite know how I managed it all … but I desperately needed to make something of myself in this industry. I remember the day I got the phone call from Jana, fashion director at marie claire Australia, offering me the position. I knew I had finally proven myself and achieved what I had been hoping for.

WHAT ARE THE BEST BITS?

Working with a team who are passionate and are experts in their field. Learning from them and seeing them work has been invaluable.

People look at the magazine and think it’s beautiful but they’ll never see just how much work goes into it — there are roughly 30 people who work at the magazine and every single one from our editor Nicky Briger, to our art, subs and editorial teams have an influence on making each page as good as it can possibly be; it’s an incredible experience to be a part of that.

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY ENTAIL?

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There is never a typical day in the marie claire office. Our fashion team has to create roughly 50 pages of content for each monthly issue. My job is to assist our stylists to do this. Days are spent in the office managing a team of interns, unpacking/packing garments, sourcing product credits, creating social media posts, and liaising with PR companies. Sometimes, my days are spent out and about finding the best garments/props for a story, or on set or on location assisting one of our stylists on a shoot.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES?

Deciding what to wear to work each day to Australia’s leading fashion magazine! But seriously, working to deadlines each month requires work to be turned around quite quickly, and I always need to have a plan B in place to make sure everything is completed on time and of the highest quality. There are only so many hours in the day!

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Photography by Martin Ollman

You can read this article in full and more in our latest edition of Magazine: The Dream Issue. Available for free while stocks last. Click here to find your closest stockist. 

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Amanda Whitley

Amanda Whitley is the founder and director of HerCanberra. In her 'spare time', she instructs zumba, loves to cook (and eat), and wrangles two gorgeous little girls. She's done everything from present the tv news to operate a stop and go sign and is passionate about connecting Canberra women. More about the Author

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