What A Difference A Week Makes: Interview With Swimwear Designer Jessica Williamson
A 2017 Young Business Women’s Award finalist in the WA Telstra Business Women’s Awards, designer Jessica Williamson has gone from strength to strength and is leading the pack in a competitive industry.
At just 24 years of age, the Perth–based fashion entrepreneur continues to prove why she’s one-to-watch. Just one week after launching her label ‘Ete Swimwear’ in 2016 Williamson was asked to exhibit her work in an Australian showcase at New York Fashion Week that same year.
We spoke with the talented West Australian to get an insight into her success.
What inspired you to get into the fashion business?
I’ve always had an interest in fashion. I completed fashion internships while I was studying and I’ve also always had a burning entrepreneurial desire to go out and start my own business. I had so many ideas, and in the end, I decided what better industry to break into than one I am most passionate about. So I decided to take on the fashion industry and run with swimwear. Being born and bred in Perth, I grew up with a love of the sea and I go to the beach whenever I have spare time. Therefore, a swimwear label seemed the perfect choice for me.
What do you believe is your purpose? What drives you in your business and personal life?
My number one thing in life is that I want to see everyone happy, it is so simple yet so many struggle each day. When I started ‘Ete Swimwear’, I decided that my brand had to inspire other girls to be happy, explore and push themselves to live their best lives. I am proud of what we have achieved and how far we have come in just 2 years. However, I wanted to take it one step further and start to really focus on self love and helping girls all over the world be happier with their unique capabilities, beauty and life in general.
What have been the biggest hurdles you have had to face along the way?
Starting a business is kind of like having a baby (not that I’ve had one) but I think you just have to jump into it head first and figure it out along the way. There have been so many hurdles along the way and as you go, you just get better at handling them. Then bigger ones get thrown at you and I don’t think anyone truly has it all figured out. We handle things in our own way.
One of the biggest hurdles I had early on was seeing my designs being ripped off all over the internet. When I put in so much hard work to create something that is unique, just to see it on other websites, where they were actually using my images (without permission) to sell my stolen designs, it’s crazy! The first time I found a brand stealing my designs, it broke my heart. I did have a little breakdown and messaged them to remove it asap. Sadly, more often than not they won’t, and it’s a hard battle to fight so I have learnt to not focus on others, stick to my brand and what I know to be true and hope that my customers will stay loyal and support designers like me.
When you hear ‘well-being’, what does it means to you?
Well-being is an ongoing challenge to balance when running a business but to me well-being means just being happy. I try my best to always make time to take care of myself and to spend time with loved ones, they lift my spirits and give me the drive to keep going. I also love Pilates (even when I don’t think I have the time), it’s one of the only forms of exercise I am excited about doing. I am not the kind of person who goes to the gym for hours but it’s so important to me to make sure I move my body since I sit at the desk most of the day and travel a lot. It takes a toll on my body sometimes.
In your working life, who has been your inspiration and what has been the best advice you’ve been given?
Lisa Messenger has always been a huge inspiration to me and her get-up and go attitude has always been one that resonates with me. To start before you are ready and just go for it!
What are some tips or words of wisdom you want to share for other entrepreneurs out there?
I think just never giving up and being prepared to work hard. If you love it, I think anyone can be successful – are you willing to put in the hard work to make that happen? There is no magic secret to success. I would also say to take a leap of faith and start before you are ready. I quit my full time job before I felt ready, but it was the best decision I ever made.
Jessica Williamson is a graduate of Curtin University of Technology and Founder & Managing Director of Perth based swimwear label ‘Ete Swimwear.’ Her designs are currently sold in Australia, USA, Bali, Dubai, Saudi Arabia as well as online.