If you're an IZ customer, you probably know Belle. She's on the front line, managing social media, customer relations, sitting behind a wall of empty coffee cups, generally being Izzy's side kick and making sure the entire team eats way too much Vietnamese food every week. She's smart, sincere, self-assured and laughs too loud when no one else gets the joke. This month, we all get to know her a little better.
After spending the best part of a decade traveling and freelance writing for different publications, chasing tour buses around the UK, Europe, Japan, The USA and Australia covering live music, Belle stayed at home in Adelaide, long enough to study psychology. "I was getting to the end of my degree and I wasn't sure about next steps or where to take it. I wasn't feeling super motivated for more study or settling down. Some friends of mine that were moving kind of put the idea of Canada into my head and then I had to do give it a shot. Having lived in North America for short periods of time, in LA and New York, I felt like attitudes and laws around disability were so different here to Australia. I wanted to be a part of that for a little longer than a few months." Along with her roommate, she organized a VISA, bought a plane ticket and after some luck or fate or whatever you want to call it, she found herself behind a desk at IZ.
"Toronto has been really good to me and for me. I couldn't ask for a better team at work, I've met some incredible people. If I could transport my dog over here and a handful of friends, it'd be perfect. I have to include my mum in that too. In case she sees this. I do miss her a lot."
After falling in love with the city, Belle is currently looking at avenues to stay for as long as she can.
"It's hard. I love decorating. My house in Australia was filled with things that were very me, but not knowing if I'm going to be able to stay here... I don't want to invest too much in furnishings and things. Starting from scratch in a new country, after moving with nothing but a suitcase is super liberating, but I don't want to form attachments with more things if I'll have to leave them all behind again."
She explains from her apartment in The Junction. "I call this place 'I don't know if I can extend my visa' chic. Fairly minimalist for the time being." The links to home are obvious, photos of family and friends and the puppy she had to leave behind with her parents are everywhere.
When asked what one of the unexpectedly hard things about moving so far away is, she laughs.
"Finding a new hairdresser and a new tattoo artist. You put a lot of trust in those people. My Hairdresser and my Tattoo Artist at home are both also great friends of mine. I was so reluctant to move on. It still feels like I'm cheating."
Outside of work these days, she keeps things pretty low key. "My huge days of partying are in the past. mostly, sort of... Trying out new vegan restaurants, getting a quiet glass of whiskey with a friend. Binge watching Netflix and Louis Theroux documentaries with a cup of tea. That's my idea of a good time."
Belle's style highlights are a carefully curated, edgy mix of Rock and Roll with designer luxury.
The majority of blacks and greys in her wardrobe only serve to highlight her colorful hair and even brighter personality.
1. Hermès Scarf
"My style revolves around a lot of classic basics. Black skinny jeans, over sized tees. Scarves are a perfect, easy way to change up a look. This Hermès scarf was a gift from someone special to remind me to always be a little ostentatious."
2. Book (Johnny Cash: The Life, Robert Hilburn)
"I've been a bit of a bookworm ever since I was a kid, so leaving my entire personal library behind when I moved countries was hard. I thought about making the switch completely to e-books for ease of traveling with my collection, but there's just a feeling about proper books that I love. I just picked this up the other day so I'm not far in, but it's great so far."
3. Marc Jacobs Sunglasses
"These are my favorites, I adore Marc Jacobs. I got them a year or so ago on a trip to New York and every time I think about updating to new sunglasses, I can never find anything I like more. They're perfect. When you're onto a good thing, stick to it, right?"
4. Statement Necklace
"This is a little like the scarf thing. I'm obsessed with statement necklaces right now. I never make huge investments in them though, because I like updating often. My roommate is always stealing them too."
5. IZ Boucle Cape
"Capes are amazing, and this one is everything I want out of a piece of clothing. It's black, it's got gorgeous texture, an amazing neck line, it's super easy to wear, it's dramatic. I never want to take it off."
6. Chloé Eau de Parfum
"Style isn't always something that you can see. I love having a signature scent. Chloé has been my staple for a few years now. It has notes of so many of my favouites: peony, freesia, lychee, magnolia, rose, cedarwood and amber. Amazing."
7. Fashion IZ Freedom Tee
"This is the best part of my job! Getting to be involved with such a cool and important campaign. Too often Disability is thought of as unsexy and unfashionable while fashion has been thought of as shallow and narcissistic. Fashion IZ Freedom is out here, making a difference for the community and proving all these misconceptions wrong. I'm really about that."
8. Records (Fleetwood Mac, Rumours)
"Music is so influential to everyone, I know. But it's been such a huge part of my life, being a music writer for a long time while I was traveling in my twenties. I am so, so dreading the day my iPod Classic dies. I don't even want to think about it. This particular album is everything, I love the art work. It's going up on a wall in my apartment."
9. iPhone 5.
"This is a little tacky, to have as part of my personal style. I'm not really a tech person or an apple fanatic, but I'm a social media addict. Comes with my job territory. Plus being half way around the world from family and friends.. It's my main connection home. My phone is always in my hand so it kind of had to be included here. I have a Harry Styles (of One Direction) phone cover that one of my best friends gave me when I moved to Toronto. It's quite a conversation starter. Most of those conversations end with people laughing at me but I have zero shame. What a dream boat."
10. Black Ankle Boots.
"When you shop exclusively in the kid's section for shoes, finding something as badass as these is like winning the superbowl of shopping. They're a little pointy, kind of suede look, lace up. I found them at home in Aus just before I moved and I'm so in love with them."