Jessica Walsh is a self-taught designer from Connecticut. Her career started at age 11, when she coded one of the first Google ads and got a check in the mail. “I was shocked that I could make money doing something that I truly loved and considered my hobby. I’ve aimed to do that ever since!” she told BULLETT.
Walsh eventually landed at the Rhode Island School of Design. There, she learned the value of collaboration. “I realized I can’t be great at everything, and I shouldn’t try to be. I learned the importance of seeking out other people who have certain unique skills who can collaborate with me to achieve an idea or vision I couldn’t have done on my own,” she said.
Offered a job at Apple after graduating, she turned it down to intern at Pentagram, a small design firm in New York. She knew it was a bold move. But, it was all about the timing, and it worked out. Walsh made partner by 25 at the creative agency Sagmeister and Walsh. Her work has appeared in the New York Times and she has rebranded both Levi’s and Adobe.
As a part of her success, Walsh understands the importance of knowing yourself and what you want to represent. For her, finding fashion pieces that speak to her personal ethos is essential. She turns to brands like Valentina Kova, Helmut Lang, and Nixon to help showcase her personality through looks that keep with her playful-yet-professional vibe.
Even though Walsh is highly dedicated and driven, she knows not to take things too seriously. She uses humor in her work, and quoted legendary designer Charles Eames in saying “‘you should take your pleasure seriously.’ “This means you should pay attention to what is your “play” and “fun”. It’s often what you are most passionate about.”
Walsh takes this playful approach to her personal life too. In 2010 she launched a blog with her friend Timothy Goodman, 40 Days and 40 Nights. Their goal was to see if they could fall in love. The blog went viral, 10 million viewers tuned in, and it is now being made into a feature film and book.
Walsh may seem like a she’s living a dream—success at 11, design partner at 25, book and movie deal off a blog—but she has a firm ethic that proves this is not all luck. “Take on work that challenges you. Work with people who are smarter than you,” Walsh advises. Her smart style epitomizes this perspective, for as she knows, the elements you may not notice at first are often the pieces that can’t be ignored when things come into focus.
Photo by Meredith Jenks