Jess Jones, 35
Founder of Soar Collective, entrepreneur and speaker
Jess Jones wrote in a notebook about a business idea that would provide events, education and support for young people in business. It was over a decade later – and six months into her current business, Soar Collective – that she realised she was doing just that.
“I reread the pages with the initial ideas on it and was blown away that I was pretty much doing what I’d first had my heart set on doing,” Jess, 35, said, “It just took me about 10 years of reading, learning, working, traveling and many incredible experiences to get me where I needed to be to be ready and able to bring that idea to life.”
Jess’ experiences began when she was expelled from high school and decided to take on a full time traineeship at McDonalds.
“I got expelled from school at the end of year 11, so I started working at Maccas full time on $4.92 an hour doing a traineeship just before turning 17.”
“It prepared me really well for the world of work! Learning to work using systems, self-discipline (I had none when I started), self-respect and what hard work felt like. I learnt so much but at the beginning but didn’t realise it or appreciate it.”
Jess went on to work in retail, hospitality and events spending a year in NYC managing a wine bar and an espresso bar on the Upper West Side, before heading into corporate working for Westpac Group as an events account manager.
Prior to launching Soar collective, Jess owned a wedding and events planning and styling business.
I’ve always been passionate about entrepreneurship so I’ve been educating myself on business since 2003 waiting for the right time and opportunity.
Soar Collective is a community of regional women who share the highs and lows of business through online groups, networking events and workshops.
“In May 2014, I saw the need to create a comfortable, open environment allowing the women attending to be brutally honest with each other.”
Jess said she realised that there was something lacking in the regional businesswomen’s networking market and was frustrated at the current offer not quite resonating with her, and assumed other women felt the same.
“I’d had enough of attending events where guests seemed to be competing for a prize for who was the busiest.”
The first Soar Collective event was held in Mornington, Victoria and has grown to 3 locations with 6 more to be launched in 2017.
“Our goal is to be in 20 regional locations Australia-wide with 10,000 members by the end of 2020.”
Jess and her team are currently working to raise funds for their Rise for Regional Road Trip campaign which will see 3 businesswomen, 2 babies and a video camera going on a road trip across the country to bring awareness to regional business women.
“We’re creating a documentary of our trip and will be interviewing regional businesswomen in 8 regional cities along the way.”
“We’re also launching the first Regional Businesswomen’s Day February 6th which is the day we’ll be in Townsville and our final stop for the road trip.”
“It’s a fantastic time to be a female entrepreneur. However, there are still some challenges women in non-metropolitan areas face; internet and phone connection, infrastructure, and childcare options – so that’s why we’re doing what we do.”
Jess said that although running her own business can be hard at times (like trying to raise more than $5,000 in 8 days for their Rise for Regional trip) she has never wanted to give up and throw in the towel.
“I’m a sunshine and lollipops kind of girl! Which means even at the times I’ve really struggled, I do my best to always see the positive side and remind myself of my why and that my persistence will pay off eventually.”
“This doesn’t mean I don’t stress about things but I also know by now that stressing about something won’t change the circumstances, only action will.”
But does Jess regret her decision?
“The only thing I’d change is that I’d tell younger me to have some guts and self-belief and go after your big goals and dreams! There’s no right time.”
When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A famous singer!
If you had one day to try any job in the world, what would it be?
A famous singer!