Jess Williamson

Jess Williamson

Founder / Ete Swimwear

Entrepreneur

On the eve of spring, it only seems fitting to introduce you to one of the most remarkable young women I have had the pleasure of interviewing.

Jessica Williamson is a 24-year-old entrepreneur with charisma, business acumen and the gift of knowing what sells. From University at Curtain in Western Australia to the Founder, Director, designer…. everything over at Ete Swimwear, Jess is a force to be reckoned with in the e-comm landscape. Her brand Ete Swimwear was designed for the feminine adventurer and encompasses high quality, unique designs with hand painted watercolour prints.

And yes, it’s SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO beautiful and then some.

For a brand that isn’t even a year old, it’s so exciting to be telling Jessica’s #careerstory. Personally, I couldn’t be more pumped to tell you life through Jess’s lens. Her experience at  High School, why she choose her University Degree, and the reason why she took the leap and started her very first ever business, is a tale made to be told.

Get ready to meet the babe that makes your Instagram swimwear dreams a reality.

The incredible Jessica Williamson…

Hey, Jess, so pumped to have you here. Can you start by telling us where you grew up, and how your experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?

I grew up in Perth, Australia. I have two loving parents and a younger brother. I grew up in a household where we didn’t have everything growing up, I watched my parents work super hard to get to where they are today and that’s inspired me and allowed me to be the person I am today.

Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?

I went to Canning Vale College in Perth. High school was an interesting experience for me, I always studied hard, I did my WACE and got a great score, I loved physics and maths… some might say I was a bit of a nerd in school. But as always being a teenage girl, there was often drama and it always seemed like the world was ending but now when I look back at it, it taught me a lot. Overall I really enjoyed school, spending time with my friends and hanging out on the weekends and after school and I was always a very hard worker and loved the challenge.

Jess, you could possibly be the first woman interviewed that has loved maths. Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?

It did play some role but certainly didn’t push me to where I am now. There was never any talk about entrepreneurship in school. The only route they offered was to do exams and get a good score so you could get into uni. Now that’s great in the traditional world of getting a job, however, I certainly don’t think it’s necessary to put so much pressure on kids at that age and tell them it’s the end of the world if they don’t get into uni. Although I did take this traditional route, it taught me about hard work, but nothing about entrepreneurship and the practical skills that I would need in the workforce. Most of this is gained through experience, trailing and a lot of mistakes along the way.

Jess’s gorgeous website, filled with stock.

Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.

No, I actually didn’t in High school, it wasn’t an opportunity that was offered or something we were told could be valuable. I did however undertake a few internships toward the end of my uni degree with varying businesses such as a hair salon, fashion designer and non-profit events. This gave me some hands on experience and something to list on my resume which was great.

Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?

I went to Curtin University in Perth, I studied a bachelor’s degree in commerce, double major in Management and Marketing. I chose Management first because I always knew I wanted to be a “boss” or CEO one day, but never realised this could mean I could be the boss of my own business. I also chose marketing because it seemed interesting but I had no idea what any of these university courses would be about when choosing them. Luckily I loved marketing, more so than the management part of the degree and went on to work in digital marketing for the start of my career.

Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.

When I graduated university, there weren’t many job prospects but I ended up getting a job at a mining company doing their marketing. After a year there I had been through a graduate program with the Comms Council which took us to many of the advertising agencies in Perth which was an amazing experience. After that I spent my time networking and figuring out what my dream job would be. I knew I wanted to get into digital marketing so I ended up applying for a digital marketing role at iiNet. This was a dream come true when I got the job at iiNet; there were so many learning opportunities and so many awesome people to work with. After just a few months working there, iiNet was acquired by another telco and as a result, a lot of people, including my managers, left for other job opportunities, so I was left to solely manage the company’s nation-wide digital marketing on my own. This was a great learning opportunity for me because I received training from all my managers and the agencies before they left. Not long after this, I decided to start Ete Swimwear in February 2016. I always knew I wanted to run my own business and work in fashion so I decided to just do it.

How did you get the job that you are in now?

I always had a love for the fashion industry plus with my digital marketing and business background, I started an e-commerce business, Ete Swimwear. I have always loved the beach and summer lifestyle plus I had noticed that there weren’t many pretty and feminine bikinis out there so I set out to design swimwear that was as comfortable to wear as it was beautiful for a community of go getters and adventure seekers. Once I decided this was what I wanted to do, there was no stopping me. I began researching into manufacturing and never looked back since! Within just 8 months after the initial idea I had launched my first collection online. For others wanting to begin their own business my one piece of advice is to be prepared for a lot of hard work and to stay determined and persevere at every stage.

What is the hardest part of your current job?

The hardest part of running my own business at the moment is manufacturing. This can be a tough challenge when dealing with suppliers and manufacturers to ensure my vision is created perfectly and to the highest standard. Another challenge is working on my own, sometimes as an entrepreneur, it can be quite lonely.

What does a day a typical business day look like for you in your current job?

Is there such a thing? Haha. Normally I check all emails from the night before (most our customers are overseas) and reply to as many as I can before getting out of bed, I also check Instagram and usually post something. Once I get up, I make my smoothie and sit down at the computer to get stuck into some work. This could be anything from designing a new collection, liaising with suppliers, accounting, marketing, graphic design, Instagram, etc. I literally do everything in the business at the moment and my mum helps with packing orders each morning.

Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?

My parents have been the best support and encouragement for me to follow my dreams. They’ve always pushed me toward doing the things I love and have supported me the whole way. Even more since starting Ete Swimwear; Mum packs all my orders for me so that I can focus on running the business and they’ve let me take over the house with all my stock. From a young age I have watched them work super hard to get to where they are and that has been a great source of inspiration and work ethic for me to watch over the years.

What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?

For anyone wanting to achieve their dreams, the most important piece of advice I can give is to never give up, even when times get tough. The thing that makes someone successful is simply that they go out and do it! I have definitely had some trialing times and a lot of people would’ve given up at that stage but I pushed through and now have come out the other side better off for it. Surround yourself with people you aspire to be like too because they say you are the average of the 5 people you spend your most time with.

List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession?

  • Favourite Websites: collectivehub.com and can I say eteswimwear.com ;)
  • Name an Instagram Account that you can’t go a day without checking: @matildadjerf she’s an amazing Swedish girl I have the honour of working with daily and she’s such a great role model.
  • Favourite Netflix Series: I don’t actually have Netflix haha!
  • Favourite all time book/s: Daring and Disruptive by Lisa Messenger (before this book I never read)

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