Jennifer Hawkins is a businesswoman. Sure, we first met the 33-year-old on stage as she was crowned Miss Universe in 2004. But in 2017, Hawkins is well and truly in the business of, well, building businesses.
Establishing her swimwear line, Cozi by Jennifer Hawkins in 2007 was just the start of a buzz that’s been hard for Hawkins to shake ever since. Her tanning range, Jbronze has cemented its position in bathroom cabinets across the country, and Sesión, her tequila brand with husband, Jake Wall, has done the same in liquor cabinets.
Add to that a causal million-dollar property portfolio, J Group Projects, and lucrative brand ambassadorships with major companies such as Mount Franklin, Myer and Colgate, and things are looking pretty darn golden for the beach girl from New South Wales. And by golden, we mean an estimated worth of more than $10 million.
For someone who started her career as a cheerleader in her hometown of Holmesville, it’s a huge achievement, and a credit to her intelligence. Because behind the face that’s represented Mayer for more than a decade, and is now a shareholder in the company, is a proven brain for business.
No, we’re still not sure if Jen’s got Trump on speed dial, but we can confirm her successful ventures have had a lot to do with making mistakes, as we found out chatting with her at the launch of Mount Franklin Lightly Sparkling’s new range of sparkling water with a Hint of Natural Flavour in a Can.
“Oh my gosh yeah, I’ve made some mistakes, but the downs make the ups so much more exciting,” Hawkins told Mamamia.
“It’s a roller coaster ride and it’s not always perfect and rosy. [The biggest thing I’ve learnt is] when you’re going into partnerships with people, make sure you’re on the same page from the very beginning, that you see eye-to-eye and have the same outlook for the company.”
One of the mistakes she’s referring to is that of her highly anticipated footwear line, JLH by Jennifer Hawkins which made it’s short-lived debut in 2010.
“That was a business I had the best intentions for,” Hawkins told News.com.au in 2016. “I jumped in, I gave it 100 per cent, and I think there’s a point where… I went, ‘OK, I had fun doing it, it was a great opportunity, I’ve learnt a lot.
“But I had to let it go. And that’s all right. It happens. I was devastated at the time, for sure, but I learnt so much.”
Aside from having the opportunity to turn something you’re passionate about into a profitable venture, there are so many aspects of the business world the model, brand ambassador and TV presenter has come to love.
“I’ve always liked taking risks, but there’s a buzz you get from business, and when you do, you realise it’s something you’re interested in,” she said.
“For me I don’t find it enjoyable to sit on the top of the hierarchy and bark orders. I love being in a room and brain dumping, seeing what everybody thinks and putting minds together. I find it really enjoyable to be collaborative, I love the whole process of working in a team. It’s got nothing to do with the way you look, nothing to do with any of that, everyone’s equal.”
Going into the tequila business was definitely a calculated risk – to create a high quality sipping tequila for a market who are more accustomed to shots with salt and lemon. But it’s just one example of a risk Hawkins has taken that’s paying off – according to the Australian Financial Review, approximately 10,000 cases were sold in their first full year of trade, and the company plans to expand its trade to China, the UK and The US, where a staggering 196.7 million litres of the stuff is consumed annually across the country.
“We didn’t get into it for the money… tequila is an extension of our lifestyle,” Hawkins recently told News.com.au.
“We got into this three years ago because to a certain degree you could see it was the fastest growing alcohol brand and it was one that we loved. With business, if things are working out and moving smoothly, you’ve got to take a risk.
“Sometimes you don’t do things because of the dollar sign, it’s for the fun of it.”
This is Hawkins’ advice to anyone thinking of getting their side hustle on – go into things with the right intentions and be 100 per cent prepared to fail.
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“Just make sure it’s your passion, and not all about the dollar, because the dollar goes out the door. In the end, you’re making decisions based on your passion and where you want to see the brand go,” Hawkins said.
“Some months you see dips, others you take a profit – it’s never all profit, profit, profit. You have to love it, and for it to fulfil you and give you purpose.”
Hawkins admits that sometimes she can be “a little bit too passionate”.
“I’ve be known to shoot off a thousand emails saying ‘let’s do this, let’s do that’, that’s why it’s good to have a team that gives you yes’s and no’s.
“There’s risk involved and you’re putting yourself out there, and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, but you’ve just got to go for it.”
As for the dinner table conversation between Hawkins and her husband and business partner, you can bet they aren’t crunching the numbers over a Sunday roast.
“I love working with my husband. We try to keep it separate but we enjoy it, so we’ll have a chit chat about upcoming exciting things but all the nitty gritty stuff, we try not to bring that home. Well, as much as you can, right?”