"You are not bound by the limitations of your parents," says Jess Hill, mom extraordinaire to 4 kids, e-comm. powerhouse, and co-founder of a women's-only online empowerment group called Ecommerce Women-Selling on Etsy/Amazon/Shopify and Beyond.
This was one of the most powerful statements I took away from our conversation. Why? As human beings, we often have the misguided perception that to become an entrepreneur, we have to have “it” in our blood. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Jess, is a Midwest girl, grew up with two loving parents who both had 9-to-5 successful corporate jobs. Jess followed the same path. Highschool, College, 9-to-5 job in the tech field. Bugs to be exact. She is what you call a Bug Scientist and still to this day, loves bugs. One early differentiator, Jess and her mom would hit up flea markets, auctions, etc. to help raise funds to pay for her tuition selling things like Depression Glass and China on #Ebay. It’s obvious to see, this is where her entrepreneurial hustle began.
In 2003, she opened her own Ebay store to pay off her student loans. As she continued in corporate America, she set her mind to making enough at this side gig, to pay off one bill a month and then another which led to her venturing into #Amazon FBA online selling (fulfillment by Amazon).
Fast forward to 2016 which proved to be a pivotal year for her. While still enjoying her industry, what Jess didn’t enjoy was the not-so-desirable, to put it southernly, boss she had (haven’t we all been in this position)? By now, Jess really had some major challenges to work through. She was going through a divorce, she decided to get sober, and she decided to walk away from corporate to venture out on her own as an entrepreneur. As a previous extreme couponer, Jess leveraged the knowledge of deal finding into buying items to resell on amazon via Retail Arbitrage.
Whewwww… what a year!
It’s worth mentioning through all of this success and discovery, an integral part of her story was woven into the fabric of the 12-step recovery program and one of it’s key components-giving back. She knew to help her remain sober and to be truly successful on her own, she needed to find a way to incorporate this into her daily life. One thing she knew, working from home running a business solo, proved to be isolating. She decided to combine her business savvy with the give back by empowering other women to foster their own desire of business ownership. In 2017, she started her Facebook page Ecommerce Women-Selling on Etsy/Amazon/Shopify and Beyond.
She now focuses most of her time on e-commerce business coaching for women. Not to mention the various other businesses she manages. This one just happens to be the nearest and dearest to her heart.
What are some key takeaways Jess shared with me that I want to share with you?
Do your research. If you are thinking about starting your journey of owning your own business, seek out free business courses or advice in the area you feel you are lacking. This can be done on the weekends or in whatever free time (however small) you may have. If you have the resources, get a business coach and learn from someone who has actually been in your shoes and created a successful business.
Set a budget. How much money do you have to invest in starting your business? Your initial investment will need to be looked upon as a loss/ amount you may never recoup. you must get comfortable this. One important factor in budgeting is knowing what your household bills are and what you need to make from your business to cover those.
Set goals. Have realistic goals for yourself and your business. For instance, my personal goal is to at least sell at least wo items this month and share two amazing women's stories. Once you have achieved your first goal, start with another and “up the ante.”
Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. What does this mean? I may look at other uber popular/successful online boutiques and immediately ask, why am I not where they are? I have to remind myself that I am around two weeks into my journey and they are about 5 years down the road in theirs. If you continue to compare your story to someone else’s you will get discouraged and give up.
There are many other nuggets of business wisdom she shared with me, but these are the ones I felt would resonate most with you because these also translate into our everyday live, entrepreneurs or otherwise.
My getting to know Jess has been kismet. I started following her group a few months ago when I decided I was going to start my boutique and blog. I knew I had found a place unlike any other on #Facebook where women truly championed for each other. I saw the open advice and sharing that each member provided. It was an empowering space for honest dialogue amongst women trying to find their entrepreneurial success. No question was ever dumb and always answered with kindness.
I want to leave you with one last thing she said to me that really stuck with me even as I sit here typing this. YOU REALLY CAN BE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO BE. Let that marinate……and I will repeat it. YOU REALLY CAN BE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO BE. It’s not just something your parents said to you as a child when dreaming of being a ballerina or a dinosaur.
Although I don’t fully know what I want to be yet, through starting my boutique, I have discovered my love of writing again. Being able to share the stories of determined women like Jess, is my way of giving back and in turn, helping me to get one step closer to finding my way.
UPDATE as of 11/22/2021: Jess just announced on her Ecomm page the following: "Thank you for 4 AMAZING Years! It is time for me to step out of the spotlight and dedicate my time to my family. I have accepted a corporate role and I will leave all groups soon. It has been a pleasure serving this community for the past 4 years and I have learned so so much." We wish her all the best!
Jess’ favorite #southernsoulcollectives find: The Paloma Tunic in Burgundy which you can check out here for a limited time under our new arrivals. New Arrivals – Southern Soul Collectives
We all have a story worth telling and if you would like me to share yours, email me at info@southernsoulcollectives subject line: Blog Me.
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Meredeth, Southern Soul Collectives