1. Tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Jess, and I’m a 32-year-old business owner and mum of two young kids, a 3-year-old boy Jagger and a 1-year-old girl Indiana. Starting a business wasn’t my intention. I graduated in 2012 with a degree in HR and Management and felt I had certainly found my calling, progressing through the ranks of a global fashion retailer, a job which I loved. It was during maternity leave that an opportunity presented itself. Initially a side project, it soon gained more traction than anyone could have predicted! People and culture management is where my passion lies. Being the boss has given me the autonomy to create something very special. I am super passionate about my family, the amazing business and the incredible team we get to travel this journey with!
2. Who are the women who have inspired you the most in your life?
Honestly, there are too many to name! I think it would be impossible to name one or even a few. I have so many family members, friends and work colleagues whom I am constantly inspired by in so many different ways. Whether it’s witnessing a friend overcome a huge challenge and show incredible resilience and determination or a family member who has taken a risk and stepped out of her comfort zone. I have drawn inspiration from many different women at different times in my life. I am a sponge and have taken strength and inspiration from those whom I feel blessed and fortunate to have in my life.
3. Why do you think it’s important to increase the number of women in business, particularly in leadership roles?
As with anything, diversity and balance are so vitally important. A myriad of people with varied skill sets, life and work experiences equates to a well-rounded team. It is essential to implement gender equality and increase the number of women in leadership where the balance is still male-dominated. The greatest leaders that I have had the pleasure of working with or for have been women. There are countless reasons why women make amazing leaders, and we should be championing this rather than creating barriers to entry, regardless of the industry.
4. How would you describe your current thinking about diversity and inclusion?
It is something we are passionate about at Custom Neon. We are a female-dominated workplace, with women filling all but one of the top tier management roles. (My husband and Co-Founder Jake Munday is also on the top tier) We are proud to employ a team from a variety of different nationalities and cultural backgrounds. It is a priority for my team to feel that they belong and have a voice at custom neon. So much so that it is embedded in our values. One of our values is “We are brighter together. Meaning we celebrate our individual experiences and learn from one another.
5. Would you like to tell us a bit more about your thoughts/ comments?
As I mentioned previously, I think it’s important that there are accessible communities that bring female business leaders, managers and entrepreneurs, together; not just environments that are orchestrated to sell but also environments geared towards learning. Communities need to provide mentorship, support, advice and help others identify wrongdoings related to conscious and unconscious gender bias, women being overlooked for promotions and unfair pay etc. The tide is slowly turning, and the glass ceiling is cracking as women are paving the way for others, chipping away at the glass ceiling one promotion, appointment, and election at a time. As a mother to a daughter, I want her to realise that her ambitions should never be thwarted by gender. Supporting other female business owners creates a positive, influential ecosystem that will hopefully equate to standardised equality!