Therese Moussa – The Grounds Head Stylist & Creative Developer
Posted October 20, 2017, by Jenny Sakr
She's responsible for creating and dressing The Grounds' most popular and highly anticipated events; transforming the magnificent space into works of art. Therese draws inspiration from her "obsession" with set design, cartoons, fashion labels and quirky designers such as Wes Anderson and Tim Burton.
What did you study and what are the steps you took to become a stylist?
I studied at the Whitehouse Institute of Design and graduated with a Bachelor of Design in 2009. While I was studying, I interned with 3 different businesses for months on end to absorb as much information as possible. I did screen printing wallpaper for different companies and drawing patterns for fabric prints for fashion labels.
I’ve always had a passion for vintage props and pieces and when I first started I spent a lot of time in different op shops doing visual merchandising for their stores.
While I was freelancing, I met Caroline Choker, an amazing interior designer, and she really helped train my eyes to have a stronger attention to detail. We worked together on multiple projects and she introduced me to the owners of The Grounds of Alexandria.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
Even from a young age, I always wanted to be an interior decorator or designer. My dad was a painter and I was obsessed with his colour palettes growing up. He taught me that interior designers would reference the palettes in their careers and from then I knew I wanted to do something in this field.
What was your first job?
Working night shifts after school, and weekends at a chemist.
Explain a typical day at work
I look after the aesthetics and visual attractions within all layers of The Grounds. This includes the styling of our spaces including The Cafe The Potting Shed, The Garden offerings, the laneways and so much more. I also style the displays of our pastries and bread in our new Bakery and Patisserie, the custom-made serve ware, and work closely with The Grounds Group Executive Chef, on the food styling for our social media channels.
On a larger scale, I work on conceptual designs where I set the tone and the mood of the spaces. For special events we transform The Grounds spaces with amazing installations; for example, we created a magical forest for Mother’s Day and transformed The Garden into something out of Alice and Wonderland for Easter. I also work with our corporate and wedding clients to bring their ideas to life in the many different spaces here at The Grounds.
On a typical day, I’m:
- Checking all sections are looking good
- Researching (the most important thing)
- Creating mood boards
- Working with Ramzey on new upcoming projects
- Styling photoshoots
What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you in your career?
The fact that I was a freelance stylist and had turned into a full-time stylist at a hospitality venue is extremely rare, so I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to take on this role full-time. You don’t get the opportunity like this every day!
Name the best and worst parts of your job
Every year we have annual events at The Grounds like Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother's Day, and Christmas. These are my favourite because we are able to let our minds run free and create whatever we like!
The worst part about work is trying not to eat a pastry or doughnut every day!!
What’s the most important career tip someone has given you?
“Always push the boundaries.” - Ramzey Choker, Co-Founder & Creative Director of The Grounds.
Where do people have to start to get into this field and what is a standard salary for this role?
I started on $32k when I finished uni but was grateful to have a job in the industry. I never saw money as something that was really important as I wanted to learn and grow my skill set which was the most important thing. I recommend doing as many internships as possible - it’s amazing how much you can learn from different businesses.
Name a career highlight
Creating a different installation each year for Easter at The Grounds is one of my favourite projects to work on by far! Each year we dream up new concepts and our ideas get bigger and bigger. It brings us so much joy to see so many people from all ages taking photos of the installations around The Grounds and coming together to crack our giant chocolate Easter egg.
What’s next for you?
We’re currently looking for a huge new Grounds site, which will be in the conceptual phase for the new couple of months and will be really exciting.
Enquire about a course in Designing and prepare to unleash your creative flair and pursue your dream career.
Jenny found her way with words while interning during uni, since, she's produced articles on it all – from hair and beauty to homewares, travel, career advice and study tips. On a weekend you're most likely to find her lining up for a table at the latest cafe or restaurant.