JACQUELINE MARIE, INTERIOR STYLIST
This is my version of a modern love story. I met Jacqueline in a Facebook group I randomly joined while looking to connect with other Chicago creatives and small business entrepreneurs. As requested by the group, I posted a little intro about who I was and a link to my social media outlets. Within a day my intro e-mail had some likes and a comment from Jacqueline about collaborating. Yes, she used the key word “collaborating” and I had a good feeling about her right away! So, we took our on-line meeting to a coffee shop two days later and I agreed to participate in an event she was co-hosting at a boutique.
I was charmed by Jacqueline’s sense of style and her sharp mind. A few months later we started working on a variety of projects together. I felt like I had found a creative soulmate.
Fast forward a few more months, a few brand styling projects and one home studio revamp, and you could not keep us a part. Today you can find us going out to eat and exploring the latest Instagram-worthy coffee shops together as if we’ve been BFF for years.
Here’s to Jacqueline, an inspiring woman, and a generous creative soul. A beautiful mind and a compassionate heart with a passion for the positive impact just a few style tweaks can make in somebody’s life.
P.S. I never went back to that online Facebook group, as I had found my match ;-)
How did Tweaked Style get started?
In 2011, I decided I needed an outlet for all my ideas when it came to fashion, home decor and lifestyle. I loved creating stylish visual experiences and putting looks together. I thought: Why don't I just do this for fun to feed my creative soul? So I bought tweakedstyle.com as I was finishing my college degree. It started as a style resource and blog. I also used Tweaked Style as a case study in one of my entrepreneurship classes in college, where I built it into a business. When I moved to Italy after I graduated college, I used Tweaked Style to share how Italy inspired my style and lifestyle.
I didn't really know if I was going to go full time as a business until I started to get hired for styling projects and interior styling projects in 2014. I finally took the leap and it's been three years working full time on Tweaked Style.
What’s at the core of your business; what drives you?
I'm on a mission to inspire people to use style as a tool to be their best self. It's so important that people have a sense of purpose, peace and belonging in their home and lifestyle.
At the core of everything I've done in my life is resiliency and overcoming lots of adversity. I’ve always used style as a tool to build that kind of strength. Style is much more than fashion and decor. To me, style is a way to inspire me to feel confident and express who I am. My goal is to share with others how I’ve been able to tweak my style and lifestyle to achieve my goals.
Can you tell me more about how you have used style as a tool for resilience?
I remember my little sister and I shared a room in a basement when I was about 14. The basement was an unfinished space and we had to make the most of what we had. At the time, we were dealing with a lot of chaos in our upbringing, so I decided to paint the walls. We had this idea to do a whole tropical theme and I put together this whole color story and style ideas. At the time I had no idea what any of this meant. It just was such a natural thing for me to do.
I found these bamboo-like wall coverings that were stored in a closet somewhere and I decided to use them as a texture on the wall. I used a tropical green paint everywhere, and I tried to make my bed feel like it was outside—with pillows up on the side of the wall. I also took a cardboard box and I painted it with polka dots. That became an end table. I had no money, so I was just using what I had at hand. I think the only thing I bought was some of the paint. I was very resourceful.
I think the Caribbean theme came from the desire to make the space be the opposite of what the other part of my life was. I wanted my siblings and I to just have a space that was comfy, safe and really uplifting, and the quickest thing I could think of was “I need a vacation from this life.” I was a dramatic teenager, so I think going big and bold was my way of rebelling against my circumstances. I remember how that made me feel, and that it was a really fun process.
I had this sense of control because I was able to make a change and a choice to make our situation better. I think we all make a mark in our homes when we paint a wall or organize a bookshelf. It’s our way to have this imprint on our space. A sense of ownership in your home leads to a sense of ownership of your life. If I had kept that basement as it was, I would have just been accepting my situation. By making those tweaks and changes, I took things into my own hands and made the life I wanted with what I had at the time. Bringing new life back into a space like that can really inspire you to go after your goals.
Can you think of a specific moment in time when you feel inspired by doing what you do?
I am always inspired when I see my work have a positive impact in somebody’s life. I remember this particular time, right around when I was starting to do this full time. There was this neighbor living in a very small apartment on the same floor as mine, and our dogs would play together. She was always really down on herself and felt that she just didn't deserve good things. Well, I remember once going to her house and she was saying things like, “Don't mind my place, it's so messy. Not like your place. I love your place, it's so nice… Maybe someday I'll be able to have a place like yours.” It broke my heart because it seemed like she felt like she didn't deserve a nice home.
I believe we all deserve to have a home that we love, that we shouldn't have to wait until we get rich or get that dream job or whatever it is. So, the next day I showed up at her apartment with some shelves and extra pillows I had in my closet and helped her hang a piece of artwork. It was only four things I brought to her place, but within a week I went back over and she had cleaned everything. Her place was cluttered and really messy before, and it made her sad. But a couple of small tweaks had inspired her. A few weeks later, I was changing my couch, so we moved it to her place and I just remember feeling like we were building upon that whole experience. When I first brought the shelves and the pillows I had no idea she was going to clean and organize and make her whole place look nice. You really can't predict that. I was just trying to help, but the impact I made in her life just confirmed to me that style can be a powerful tool for change. I could’t say that styling somebody’s space is going to motivate them, motivating people is one of the hardest things to do. But I feel really good when I am able to have a positive impact in somebody’s life by using my talents. At the time, it was more than a “this feels good”. It was more of a “this really works and I'm not crazy!”
When you think of Tweaked Style, what keeps you going? What makes you wake up every morning?
It goes back to the story I just shared and the many others like it. All those stories remind me why I do what I do. Tweaked Style enables me to share what I used to help myself when I was growing up—to share something that can really help other people. I want to give them that same sense of inspiration I felt when I was able to change my room and make my siblings feel better.
Your home gives you a sense of safety that we all deserve and need. It gives you a sense of identity and provides a retreat from things that are stressful. Your home is a foundation and it can have an effect on other aspects of your life; like your job, your eating habits or your workout routine. Our home and the spaces we live in have a great impact on who we are and our outlook in life.
I am not necessarily a life coach, but I just want to give people that platform to be reflective, and your space is a place to figure out what you want and who you are. I can’t solve their problems, but I definitely want to give them some tools that will inspire, motivate and encourage them to go after their goals.
Yes, it’s a big thing to be really engaged in what you do. This is not just styling pretty spaces. It’s impacting people's quality of life. So everything I do, I do with care. I don't focus on pushing trends or pushing my own style agenda.
If I can help people create that strong foundation even with what little they might have, then I can help them re-envision other areas of their lifestyle. I use style as a catalyst, to help them achieve their goals and be the best version of themselves.
Photography by Tweaked Style