|Style Haus Interiors driven by dedication|
|Written by Rebecca Potter|
|Thursday, 07 April 2011|
Boards with bright drawings and fabric swatches lined the walls of the tiny office on Catherine Street. Jason Bellaire, co-owner of Style Haus Interiors and an Algonquin alumnus, sits at his desk going through client in-voices.
On the wall behind him, his degree rests on the wall, a reminder of a time that started him on the road to where he is today. Born in North Bay, Ont. Bellaire originally attended Concordia University for art history, before deciding it wasn’t for him. After working various occupations around Ontario, Doug Murray, an Algonquin interior design professor, took special interest in Bellaire.
“He saw potential in me, and he was a mentor for me. He encouraged another student and I to apply in a year,” he said. The college had just changed the three-year diploma program to a four-year degree program, greatly benefiting all the students involved.
“I thought it was great to meet someone who took that much of an interest in what we were doing,” said Bellaire.
When he was in his second-year, his mentor and professor Doug Murray took his own life. While sadden Bellaire continued, and loved the program he was in – he learned the skills to further his career and gained the experience to come out on his own.
“I loved my education there, and I’m still in touch with most of the professors,” he said. Having gone to university, he liked the change to college with smaller class sizes and very hands-on, helpful professors.
Bellaire believes that if anyone is interested in a career in interior design, the four-year program is definitely well-rounded, with broad subject matter and real-life courses. Even classes like psychology are something that are used every day when speaking with clients.
“You learn a lot of things that aid in your education that maybe you don’t draw a relationship to right away to design, but they set us up for practical work,” Bellaire said.
After graduating from the program, Bellaire worked in a few firms before leaving his job shortly before Christmas. When he returned to Ottawa, things really got rolling for his design career.
“I got a client in January, which took me until March or April, and then I got another client, and then their neighbour hired me, and it just snowballed. So I decided to start my own practice under the name ‘J-Squared Design’.”
After that success, he met his design partner Denise Hulaj, and in January 2011, the two opened up their own business, ‘Style Haus Interiors’. Hulaj also attends Algonquin College, taking night classes in decor and design for the last few months.
One of the most memorable projects that Bellaire and Halaj completed together was a bedroom set for the ‘Do it For Daron’ campaign.
“I’ve always been very interested in mental illness, because I have firsthand experience with it with loved ones.” With a friend who works at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, Bellaire swiftly decided to become involved.
“Denise and I were in the car going to a meeting, and it was on the radio because it was Do It For Daron day. We both looked at each other and said ‘Okay, we have to do something.’ We didn’t really understand to what capacity we could help,” Bellaire said.
They decided to design a purple room, the colour of the campaign, for a girl around the age of 16. On Tuesday, the dropped clients for the day, they went from store to store asking owners to donate purple pieces to the foundation. By Friday, the entire room was finished, complete with drapery, 400-thread Egyptian cotton sheets and wallpaper.
“That blew us away; I was really surprised by how responsive the community was. It was really close to our hearts – it was touching to be involved in it. It was an emotional roller coaster during the week and a half it took us to put everything together.”
The pair raised $3,200 for the foundation when the room was auctioned off at the Gala held in March. Since having such a strong emotional connection to the issue, Bellaire appreciates that this organization is talking about the problem of suicide.
“Everyone knew, but no one talked about it. There was a lot of shame in it. So I think what’s happening now with people like the Richardsons, is they are confronting this. It’s an unfortunate circumstance for a person to not have the ability to see that problems are temporary and that we can always get through it if we just wait long enough,” Bellaire said.
“We really didn’t think about how we were going to do it, we just did it. And in my experience, I think that’s the best way to get involved – when you really strongly believe in something, nothing can stop you from achieving your goals.”
Bellaire’s business is booming – Style Haus is currently working on about eight different projects. But he attributes his success to ambition.
“I think to get ahead in this industry, you really have to take charge of your career. Unconventional, but it’s the way to do it – find your own path,” Bellaire said.
He wasn’t expecting to be where he is today back at Algonquin, but the hard work paid off. He said one of his biggest challenges was to jump from working with others to working for himself, which he compared to jumping off a cliff in the dark.“It can happen if you have the talent, the dedication, and the drive. It’s not easy - it’s hard work. But I’m proof that you can do your own thing when you graduate, based on the credentials and the education that you have,” he said.
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 07 April 2011 )|