This year for International Women's Day we spoke with Jellaine Dee. She shares her journey in the business world and offers incredible advice for women in business.
1. Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Women's Day?
To celebrate women for all they contribute to our economy, families and community since the rise of womens’ equality. Also to amplify conversations we need to have as a collective to solve pressing issues holding women back in today’s society and pave the way for the new generation of women.
2. What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?
I always wanted to be a business woman. I craved the independence, creativity and adventure of being a business person. My costume of choice at any dress up party was a power suit, trench coat and briefcase.
3. How did your journey in business begin?
I was working in corporate advertising and PR at some of Australia’s leading agencies; and on the weekends I decided to sell shoe clips and handbag organisers I designed and had made at weekend market stalls around Brisbane.
As soon as I started making more money on the weekends at the markets & tradeshows, I quit my corporate job, went all in on my business. I branched into beauty products, travelled the world to launch in new markets and became a multi-million dollar business in a few short years, stocked in the world's leading department stores and thousands of retail stores.
4. Have you faced any barriers in your career due to being a woman?
Many of the owners and decision makers in the beauty world were middle aged men who I had to meet with to gain the business. I had to prove myself as a young woman, start-up, Australian based beauty brand. My product, our marketing, my work ethic and my team eventually won them over. But sometimes I needed to bring my husband to meetings just for some male energy as they tend to feel more relaxed with another man at the meeting - even if my husband didn’t contribute much to the conversation!
5. Do you consider yourself to be a powerful woman?
In terms of where I’ve come from in my life, there is power from the adversity I’ve experienced. Being a child of Domestic Violence, moving schools seven times and living in and out of women’s refuges with my mum and siblings, I grew up fast. It’s created a resilience I’m thankful for and set me up to take on life’s problems in life and business head-on.
6. What does success look like to you?
Having a dream, making a plan, following through and seeing it happen, all the while impacting for the better your family, peers and industry. From that, people who hear your story become inspired to have the courage to go for their own dreams and this becomes your ripple effect in making the world better.
7. Career highlight?
Landing distribution deals in all 50 states of USA & Canada, as well as the top department stores Nordstrom and Dillards, across 240 stores in North America. Very few Aussie brands have ever done this. Also winning a Telstra Women's Business Award was a major highlight.
Advice to other women looking to start or up-level their own business?
Think big, seek out mentors or other business people who have done it before, take massive action, always be learning and cultivating good people around you.
8. Women who inspire you?
Gabrielle Chanel - A pioneer for women’s fashion but more importantly women in business.
Christine Caine - A Christian Evangelist who brings hope to millions of people and used her platform to create A21, a human trafficking organisation who rescues women and children around the world.
Jamie Lima - Founder of beauty brand IT Cosmetics, who I share a similar start with, but sold her business for 1.2 Billion dollars to L'oreal only after 8 years in business.
9. What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
Imagine where you want to be in 3-5 years….what does that ideal day look like? Analyse it and work backwards on what you need to do for each area to resemble that image. Ask yourself, “What happened just before that?”, until you get to today - then start taking action!....I.E, Make the call, send the email, do the research, book the plane ticket, brainstorm that idea…
Just Do it!