As a child, Jessie knew that she one day wanted to make the world a better place. Arriving in London with just £500 in 2005, armed with a positive attitude and a wealth of friendships from her travels, she set off to make this dream a reality.
She embraced the harsh reality of a cold and dark British winter and saw the beauty in the daily London commute that so many of us love to hate. “I remember smiling and looking at the grim tube and thinking it was just the best thing ever!” With a tight purse, she was quick to land a temp job in PR and later worked her way into the digital marketing world.
Fast forward 5 years and Jessie found herself making the move back to New Zealand, in what a good friend described as her “OE from her OE”. Determined to experience New Zealand through fresh eyes, she moved in with a bunch of Irish housemates in a large flat share in Auckland. It was during this time back home that Jessie met her partner, who funnily enough, was British. He was due back to the UK as his visa was up, and Jessie made the decision to move back as well. She explains, “I still had my working visa and loads of friends and connections, so I thought I would just go back there and see what happens”.
However, the last 10 years back on UK soil has not come without its challenges. After being made redundant twice within the space of 12 months marked a turning point for Jessie. “It made me not want to rely on other businesses. I thought, with my own business, I can at least control my own destiny,” she explains.
Jessie soon identified a need for strategic marketing advice to eCommerce businesses that were either small, growing or looking to scale up. She explains, “they wouldn’t need a Chief Marketing Officer, but would need someone with a lot of experience to help them. I wanted to create an agency that provided expert advice and took on a tailored approach that left out the frills of an agency.”
With extensive knowledge from previous digital marketing roles, Jessie was able to explore the possibility of starting her own business. She acknowledges the support of her mentor, Cat Howell, who specialises in training programmes that assist new agencies. Being connected to this community of likeminded agency owners across the world helped to build her confidence and provided the reassurance that she was not doing it alone.
In 2018 Webtopia was established. What initially started as a case of working with various freelancers, soon led to the hire of her first full-time employee, and two years later, a further 8 employees. Jessie reflects, “A year ago at the beginning of the pandemic I had one employee. There was a hairy moment or two, but we soon learned that eCommerce really boomed. Retail had to pivot toward online which created a huge demand for agencies to service the need of digital advertising.”
Off the back of this wave, Jessie and her team have recently launched an online training programme to help accelerate small businesses through digital ad channels, coached by her and her team.
As a 16 year old, Jessie read ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers and acknowledges that this has been such a guiding principle for nearly everything in her life. “Yes, it feels scary, but embrace the pain anyway because when you are scared it means you are pushing yourself in the direction you need to go.”