Updated: Oct 3, 2019
Building genuine connections with people from different walks of life is never an easy thing to do.
January 2014, Humber College North Campus, N Building: Michelle Bellissimo and I worked on our very first partnering project together. This project, *3D Character*, was quite experimental to say the least. It required creativity, innovation, and artistic ability. What we didn't know then is that this project was a foretaste and a lesson for our future. From that very first project Michelle and I realized what real partnership and teamwork was about: combining the skills of one another to create a product.
During her post-secondary and post-graduate endeavours, Michelle first accumulated skills in the residential design field working for a large home builder. Later, she entered the commercial design world by working at firms that exclusively worked on office, hospitality and healthcare projects. This allowed her to acquire key knowledge from the everyday use of the building code while managing the logistics and deadlines for large projects. Through dedication and consistent high performance, Michelle was able to build an extensive list of vendor contacts and connections in the industry.
My path to design was relatively different than that of my partner. I stepped into the design world as a consultant at a luxury furniture retail boutique. I was then fortunate to move into a small residential build company where I learned what it was like to run a growing business. The work was multifaceted to say the least. I wore many hats ranging from: Construction Project Coordinator, Marketing Assistant, Designer and Client Affairs Coordinator.
Working as an independent designer was always a dream of ours; often Michelle and I would share lighthearted banter over this common aspiration. We would talk about all the years experience we’d acquire before venturing off on this magical journey of entrepreneurship. Nevertheless, we stuck to our comfort zone and happily continued working for other people.
Fast-forward to January 2019: Michelle and I realized that our once glamourized future had become a harsh reality. Typical “adulting” had lost its allure and after 7 months in the workforce, the matter of “9-5” started to feel somewhat grim.
February 2019. After sharing similar disappointing experiences about our lack of growth in our jobs we decided to take a leap of faith and go solo. Suddenly everything began to feel organic. Much like when we made eye contact to become partners on our first project together, the feeling of asking for partnership after 5 years of group projects felt just as natural.
March 2019; the name Francis + Bell became officiated and we started our journey not only as close friends but now business partners. Like once before, we brought our opposing yet complimentary skills to create a company built on the values of creativity, quality and authenticity. Francis + Bell's mission is to positively impact people's lives through design, whether that be actual users of our spaces or the happy clients themselves. Michelle and I truly enjoy bringing our clients' ideas to life through design and are more than excited for the future in our journey as Francis + Bell Design Studio.