INTERVIEW: JESS WILLIAMSON AND HOW SHE BUILT A BRAND THAT EMPOWERS WOMEN FROM A SIDE HUSTLE TO THE NEW YORK FASHION SHOW

Some of you might already know the inspiring story of Perth-based entrepreneurs, Jess Williamson, the founder of Ete Swimwear – a beautiful swimwear label that empowers women to be confidence and feel beautiful in their own skin. It’s more than just fashion – it’s an empowerment movement.  At the young age of 22, Jess set out to start Ete Swimwear, bring it from side hustle to the New York Fashion Week.  After a few years in business, Jess is a huge proponent of finding the sweet spot between self-care and kicking goals!  We are super stoked to have her as one of our amazing speakers at our upcoming Entrepreneurs Wellness Retreat in Yallingup.  Early bird tickets are available now at this link.  But first, be inspired by Jess below.

Jess Williamson Founder of Ete Swimwear on self-love and entrepreneurship
Jess Williamson Founder of Ete Swimwear on self-love and entrepreneurship

We are super excited to have you as a speaker at our upcoming Entrepreneurs Wellness Retreat on 21 September in Yallingup. For those of us who are new to Jess Williamson and Ete Swimwear, tell us the most down to earth thing about you? 

I currently still live at home with my family here in Perth.  I travel a lot and reinvest a lot of the money back into my businesses, plus I love my family so it works out well! 

You have multiple roles (eg. CEO, CFO, daughter, friend) in your business and life. Can you tell us a bit about your different roles?

Where do I start!?! Haha I feel like I have too  many roles to list. Within my businesses, Ete Swimwear, Somewear Elsewhere and now my Membership “How I Built This” I do everything! (mostly everything). Everything from CEO and Designer to Admin and customer service. I do have people around me who support me such as assistants, consultants, agencies, and warehouses but mostly everything you see is done by me! Outside of business, I love travelling and the beach so just happened to make my businesses surround those things which means I get to travel a lot to amazing destinations for work too.

Do you encounter many entrepreneurs who struggle with their health and wellness goals while building a business? Why do you think they struggle with this?  What aspect of health and wellbeing do you think they struggle with the most? 

I can’t speak on behalf of others but I certainly do!! In the beginning when I was still working full time for the first year of my business in a day job, I ended up with adrenal fatigue. I didn’t have anytime for myself, the weekends were non-stop working on the business as well as mornings and nights, and lunch breaks at work were spent at meetings or doing work on Ete Swimwear so that was a hard time. Once I quit my job, it still wasn’t easy as things got busier and the business grew. Plus I started Somewear Elsewhere in early 2018 and now just starting my third business, my Membership. 

Amongst all that, I have had to put a real focus on self care and taking time out for myself and doing things that help fill me with happiness, take away stress and allow me to handle challenges a lot better. 

I think entrepreneurs like myself find it hard, especially in the beginning, because there are a lot of challenges, a lot of things to learn and do, plus we are doing it all ourselves, so it is difficult to switch off.  I’ve been doing a proper morning routine now, having breakfast (trying to meditate – doesn’t always happen), getting some sunshine (my favourite thing), and sometimes writing in my gratitude journal too. It sets me up for a crazy day and when challenges are thrown at me, I’m able to handle them better and handle myself better.

Tell us about your business journey. Have you always wanted to be an entrepreneur?  What is the biggest hurdle you have experienced as a business owner?

When I began Ete Swimwear, I was just 22 and uninspired by my job and needed something more. I have always had a strong connection to the beach and the ocean, and noticed a lot of brands were moving toward athleisure and a more minimalist aesthetics which just wasn’t me, so I set out to create designs that were not only comfortable, but beautiful. We are made for the Feminine Adventurers of the world. I decided that my brand HAD to inspire other girls to be happy, explore and push themselves to live their best lives. 

Just one week after launching, I was already being called upon to exhibit the brand in an Australian showcase at New York Fashion Week later that year. And that was just week one…

I then launched my second business, Somewear Elsewhere, running promotional Influencer trips, creating amazing content and promoting brands and destinations. Very recently, I launched my third business, my new Membership where I am teaching other business owners exactly how I’ve built my businesses from scratch.

One of the biggest hurdles for me was seeing my designs being ripped off all over the internet – that was definitely a low point for me. When I put in so much hard work to create something that is unique, just to see it on other websites, where they are actually using my images (without permission) to sell my stolen designs, its crazy! The first time I found a brand stealing my designs, it broke my heart. 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.

Your skin is always glowing and you have so much energy! Can you share with us your health regime to keep yourself balanced?  Why is self-love so important to you? 

Hmm not sure on the truth of that statement haha! Probably the complete opposite. I struggle with energy levels, I’m iron deficient and other things that mean my energy levels are lower than most people but this has meant I have had to put more focus on self care and nutrition etc. Also I am going to always be open and real, I’ve suffered from bad acne for a long time and even though I believe I can still be glowing with acne, sometimes it does get your confidence down but through all the self development work I’ve been doing, I have become much more confident in my skin and actually this question inspired me to share that on my Instagram, something I have never done! (checkout my “my skin” highlight on @jess.williamson8). 

Self love has become so darn important to me! What is life if you’re not enjoying the journey… my biggest thing is stress – so making sure I’m doing things every day for self care is super important, it makes me happier, my relationships are better, and I actually get more done when I’m in a good mind space.

I have been going to a naturopath to balance a lot of things out, so daily I make sure I feed myself with the nutrition I need specifically and also make sure to do my morning routine, having breakfast, getting some vitamin D, gratitude journal and plenty of sleep! I also listen to myself and my body and when I’m feeling exhausted or overwhelmed, I take some time out.

Can you give our community, especially the Retreat Guests, a sneak peak into the goodness you will share at the Entrepreneurs Wellness Retreat? What can they expect to learn from you? 

I have been doing a lot of self development over the past year (let’s be honest our whole life is a self development haha), but focusing on this in particular the past year. Ive become so much more confident in myself, my self care and self love so I am excited to share my journey and give everyone some things they can take away and use too!

We see you always have exciting collaborations going on at Ete Swimwear!  Do you have anything exciting in the pipeline or recent collabs, you would like to share with our community?

Recently we collaborated with major US blogger, @jamienkidd! This was super exciting as we have been following her for a long time and she embodies exactly what we are about at Ete Swimwear – the fearless and adventurous attitude to life and always exuding positivity! So we co-designed a collection with Jamie that is available online now as an exclusive collection. We have a few super exciting things coming but can’t reveal too much yet.

What are 3 fun facts about yourself that you haven’t shared in an interview?

  1. I went on exchange to US college in New Orleans and lived there for 6 months, it was just like the movies! So much fun, not so much study haha!
  2. I don’t really like ice cream – not sure what all the fuss is about. Give me chocolate any day! Especially dark!
  3. Pink is my favourite colour, since forever!