Public Relations Director / Hive HQ
When your biz is called Hive HQ, and you have clocked up 10 brands to work with since launch it’s fair to say that you have set one high and buzzing bar. It may also mean that you have etched out your niche in this world, and are thriving because you have found “that thing”. You know “that thing” that we are all subliminally or intentionally hunting for?
When the name Jessy Marshall popped into our inbox earlier this year, we couldn’t believe our luck. This smartie pants PR Queen is polite, hella-passionate and reliable – she also gives good advice, trust us.
Canberra born Jessy Marshall has one multifaceted #careerstory – and that is why we are chomping at the bit to tell you how she got her start, but also all the tips that she has for anyone wanting a career in the communications and PR industry. In this interview we take you behind the scenes of her business. Why she swapped pom poms for press releases and why swimming in the deep end is her best lesson.
Let’s dig in…
Hi there, can you tell us a bit about where you grew up and how your experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?
Ok, I can tell you this but no judging me!
I was born in Canberra, both my parents are teachers – Mum Primary and my Dad a High School PE teacher. I have a sister Alisha 3 years younger than me. School holidays were always spent travelling to different destinations as a family or in my teenage years at dance competitions. I started dance at 6 and it consumed most of my after-school hours and weekends. I was 13 when we moved to the Gold Coast – It may seem like a shady place, but it definitely holds a special place in my heart.
I wasn’t much of a book worm and could not stand Maths or English. I was often found with my friends in the dance room at lunch times. At family functions I would boss my sister or cousins around creating dance performances – certain they all hated it. I was always creative, ambitious and bubbly; and over the years my career has unfolded with different chapters.
I got my first job at 14, on reflection I always had more than one job. I taught dance at a local dance school plus waitressed in my teenage years and then when I finished school I had a full-time job plus a beauty salon at home (once I finished my training). I never saw it as hard work, it was something I wanted to do and that stems from how my parents brought us up.
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
Schools, plural, let’s start at the beginning!
As I said I first lived in Canberra, I did my first year of high school here before leaving to the Gold Coast, I was at Calwell High School. Initially I started at Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School however I hated the inflexibility, if you weren’t an A+ student you weren’t given any assistance to get better, just forgotten. So, I was fortunate enough to move to Elanora State High School, catching 2 buses in the morning and 3 in the afternoon to get home. I had an amazing group of friends – still do.
Even though I no longer live on the Gold Coast when I visit it feels like I never left. The girls are always there no matter what. Our weekends were filled with parties – generally, a dress-up, with music which we would dance the night away too. That would be one thing I’m most thankful for from school, a great support group of intelligent and caring friends who I can always turn to. I wouldn’t say I loved school for the subjects but definitely for the social side, I enjoyed being around people, and thrived in my electives – dance, art and surf lifesaving.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
Looking back, sadly, not really. Having two parents as teachers you would have thought I would have been in all the academic classes however my passion with dance and socialising was more of a focus.
I was a good student, I did my homework and assignments like most kids however if I also saw value in educating myself through life experiences and networking. As Year 12 came to an end I really felt as though I didn’t know the direction in which I wanted to go from an academic point of view. I had a few ideas but never felt sure of what would be the right decision.
Being the oldest in my family, I experienced a huge amount of pressure for not wanting to go to University or apply for a scholarship, in many ways I felt as though I had let my parents down. There was a part of me that didn’t want to do what everyone expected, a feeling which makes a lot more sense now – running my own business.
Now being older (and maybe a tad wiser) I have learnt throwing myself into experiences is the quickest way to learn. Choosing to study in later years means you have a better understanding of who you are which was definitely the case for me. My previous experience also allowed me to start working straight away in the industry and get the hands on experience.
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
I did – In Year 10 through my high school we were able to take on an elective or work experience, I decided to take up the opportunity to do work experience. I got my Cert III in Hospitality which also helped me secure a casual waitressing and bar job at a well-known Mexican restaurant on the Gold Coast.
I worked there for a number of years especially when I finished school and was studying or planning a trip overseas. The money always came in handy, I was one of the youngest employed at the time and the team taught me a lot.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
Yes, after finishing Year 12 I was still really unsure of the direction I was going and I decided I would do my Diploma of Beauty Therapy on the Gold Coast. This allowed me to work in beauty salons, day spas and for skin care brands. I began in a salon and spa role, which was very hands on, and I loved the face to face time and building relationships with my clients.
This led to a job with Dermalogica as a Business Development Manager, from here I worked for multiple skin care brands as a territory manager and trainer to salons. Once I moved to Sydney I decided I no longer wanted to work within the skin care space I studied my Cert IV in Training & Assessment which allowed me to teach at Tafe. Teaching at Tafe I really enjoyed, getting to know the students, building relationships and helping them to succeed in their course and giving them the knowledge, they required for the workforce. Teaching at Tafe also allowed me to work part time whilst I studied my Diploma of Business majoring in PR and Marketing which has taken me to where I am today.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for and explain any highlights.
For a number of years, I worked in the beauty industry working for brands such as endota Spa, Dermalogica and Australian skin care brand Alpha-H. I always had a side hustle, spray tanning, facials or waxing clients and friends from a room in my home (something tells me that my entrepreneurship side was always there… perhaps without me being totally aware of it).
My best friend passed away in 2013 after a fatal car accident and it impacted my mental health more than I realised at the time. I threw myself into creating a new chapter filled with new opportunities to assess what I wanted from my own life. I wasn’t happy with where I was and with what I was doing. I applied for a role in Sydney with a skin care company who worked within medical clinics and with plastic and cosmetic surgeons, I won the role and moved to Sydney.
The move was an uprooting, all-in plunge. I lived in my Aunties one-bedroom apartment in Sydney’s North Shore when I first arrived. I quickly realised the role wasn’t for me and went back to the drawing board. I didn’t want to start my own skin care brand or open my own skin clinic however, I loved the media, marketing and communications side of each business I had worked in, which is what led me to studying PR. During this I also co-founded a dance studio with a good friend, it started off as a casual dance class for adults and soon the business grew. We were teaching kids and running a cheerleading squad in a few locations across Sydney.
Although we established this business together in 2014, last year I made the decision to step away and focus on other aspects of my career – with my business partner now successfully running the dance studio on her own. Whilst studying PR, I did a few internships, one with Mamamia where I worked one day a week with the editorial team. I then had a few part time roles before securing full time work. My most recent role, before starting my own business, came about through a mutual friend. They told me they knew of a PR company looking for someone with a background in beauty.
The role was with Maz Coote, founder of Beauty and Lifestyle PR agency Coote Connex – I worked closely with Maz over the years as her Senior Account Manager. It was a fun environment, lots of events and great clients. I owe a lot of what I know to Maz. She taught me how hard work pays off and it really helped me to find my passion, she always would find a positive in any situation, no matter the outcome, which I’ve realised is incredibly powerful in this industry. Which brings me to the next chapter (The finale) – Starting my own agency – Hive HQ.
How did you get into the job that you are in now?
At the end of last year 2017 I wanted more of a challenge, so I resigned from my stable full-time role…
I think for the first 10-12 weeks I freaked out and was really unsure of what my next step would be. It was some of the scariest time in my career thus far but I reached out to a few contacts and soon had some freelance work. That quickly turned into people asking if I wanted to do their PR directly, so I started with a Business Name and here we are. . .
Hive HQ has 10 clients we are working with them in all different capacities depending on what they require. We are no longer freelancing, just purely focusing on our business.
What is the hardest part of your current job?
Keeping a positive mindset – being inside your mind can be exhausting. I’m continually questioning whether it is right or wrong; and as an owner the decisions and consequences are yours, there is no one else is standing beside you.
With the dance school there were two of us to bounce ideas off and be held accountable. Now I don’t have the business partner to ask, ‘is this a good or bad idea’, I can only trust my gut. Since starting I have worked out my go-to’s and I am lucky enough to have some pretty amazing friends who have always been super supportive. I have also found some of my clients to be extremely understand and supportive, Sali Sasi, co-founder of Frankie Peach, is a go-to for me, we worked alongside each other previous to her coming on board as a client and she has always been really helpful.
We have a similar outlook and she understands first-hand what it can be like, so has been a great help over the months.
What does a day a typical business day look like for you in your current job?
Every day is different depending on what is happening. Generally, I wake around 5/6am, scroll through social media.
Head for a walk with the dog and an ocean swim with my partner or head to a gym class.
A filter coffee at my favourite café and then home for breakfast by 7am, which will lead me to my emails and media monitoring to check out any brand mentions.
10am is a coffee meeting somewhere in the city or a lunch and then back to my desk for emails, creating PR plans and activations for upcoming projects. I will speak with most clients daily, either via phone or email. I have no finish time it just depends what is ahead of me.
Late afternoon is looking at tomorrow’s schedule e.g. booking couriers, packaging up product dispatches, influencer seeding list, proposals.
Then cooking dinner and bed unless there is an event I need to attend.
Before bed I like to write out a to-do list to ensure I know my focuses for the next day and I will also do gratitude in a separate journal. It is important no matter how small the win to acknowledge the progress.
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
Growing up I would say I looked to Michelle Heine my dance teacher in Canberra and director of Leg’s Dance Modelling Studio. Then when we moved to the Gold Coast I worked casually at a dance studio for two girls Rochelle and Rachel who owned Street Beat Dance School. These were two people I really trusted and admired, they also had a strong work ethic with running a dance school as well as working full time jobs, not to mention their personal lives. I also have quite a large extended family and would say I have been lucky enough to see what success can look like and what hard work is over a lot of varied careers.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
Be hungry and eager to learn. Ask questions. Don’t be scared to make mistakes – they are the best learning experience and gosh I have made so many! Don’t be hindered by lack of time in the industry, if you are savvy and willing to give it a go jump in and do it.
List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession?
- Favourite Websites: Body + Soul – For recipes, health and fitness tips, Who What Wear – For fashion trends, BEAUTYcrew – My beauty news, News.com – For anything else, Popsugar – All round for beauty, lifestyle and fashion – I do still love a good magazine and my Sunday newspapers. There are so many new websites popping up all the time as well a new website Green + Simple have a great interviews section that I have also starting reading.
- Name an Instagram Account that you can’t go a day without checking: There are SO many accounts and I am on it so frequently I couldn’t say just one, I do have to say however I am really enjoying creating my business page @hq.hive and coming up with Bee Puns and Memes.
- Favourite Podcast: Words With Oz – I like listening to the entrepreneurs interviewed to find out why they do what they do plus there is always a good little tip. High Heels and Hangovers – Its short and sharp and a great laugh, good when you don’t want anything to deep and just need to switch off.
- Favourite all time book/s: I have to admit, I am not a big book reader however this year I read Lorraine Murphy REMARKABILITY which has some great tips on starting a business especially on organisation and the first steps to starting a business successfully.
- People: In the industry I turn to Meg Harris, we have collaborated on a few things together this year. She, like me, started her agency and works by herself, so it is nice to have someone to bounce ideas off. Another would be Keri Kitay – who has been an excellent sounding board. Personally, My mum is always a person I confide in, as well as my boyfriend. These two understand me 100%, better than I know myself are I will always turn to one of them if I am unsure of what to do. My sister Alisha and close friends Emma, Sarah, Shannan and Jade have been some of my biggest cheerleaders. Their unconditional support, helping at events, giving ideas and editing work is beyond what I could ask for.
- Others: Chip – My partner’s puppy, I absolutely adore and frequents my Instagram, although he can’t talk back, he is an amazing listener. I would also have to say a lot of the editors have been great and if I have ever had a question all have been super lovely and given sound advice.