Jessica Wilson’s careers adviser at university told her she’d never bring off her dream to make it in fashion.
Last week the entrepreneur stood in front of hundreds of people at Liverpool Council’s annual forum, Invest Liverpool, at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and shared her journey to success and advise other businesses on the benefits of going global.
She founded the mobile app Stashd and most of her consumer market is in China.
The app aims to sell western fashion labels to Chinese buyers. It flourished after she appeared on a Chinese TV show in 2014.
She said that show, The Next Unicorn, was a mix of Shark Tank and The Apprentice.
But she said it was her motivation, ideas and experience that pushed her to take action and start her own business.
“When I was 16 I began running my own business. We lived in the country and I’d rent out our barns to students who needed a venue for formal after parties,” she said.
“The money I made got me through university but I dropped out after my careers adviser told me I wouldn’t make it. Soon after that I was working overseas in Paris for Fashion Week.
“I worked my way up from being an intern to a runway show producer. That’s essentially how I started Stashd.”
She said she only launched her app in China last year.
Yet, she said, her app is already used in 136 countries with a database boasting more than six figures.
She said it’s also been named as one of the top 10 lifestyle apps in 10 countries, including Australia.
“We exclusively targeted the millennial market in China and cater to what they want – products which are expressive and unique. And we’ve built a testing tool into the app to get inside information on consumers, it’s like Tinder.”
Although Miss Wilson’s creativity and passion got her going, she said she’s had a strong support network behind her, which really helps.
“I have advisers and I’m surrounded by a lot of people who are professionals in their field. One of the co-founders of netaporter is my advisor. It’s not just me, there are a lot more people whom I learn from.”
Her key message to local businesses during Invest Liverpool was pursue your passion.
“Don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t do something. It doesn’t matter what people think. I’ve had a ridiculous number of obstacles. But a lot of it is just part of the gig.
“There are a lot of people in Liverpool who have global ideas. I’m a country girl who made it. A prime example of what you can make happen.”