Jessica Watson, Creator, PonyDry
Republished with permission from Be The Next Her an Evio Community Partner
What is your morning routine?
I must wake up before my kids… I need those 15 to 20 minutes to myself before the craziness that is the morning with two children (my sweet-pies or demand-a-lots, depending on the day) kicks off.
I always start with a glass of water – I use the glass to fill my dog’s water bowl first, then I pour myself a glass. I take 2000 IU of vitamin D and 2000 mg of vitamin C religiously. I am convinced this is why I rarely get sick (knock-on-wood). Of course, my big mug of coffee is brewing while I do all this. As I sip on coffee, I check my emails… and Facebook and Instagram. Once I’ve had my coffee, I’m able to brace myself for another busy day of work, meetings, problem-solving, breakfast/lunch/dinner making, and of course, kids activities.
Tell us about your career path
My career path did not lead me to my current profession – or maybe it did, in a roundabout way. I tried a few different careers throughout my life. I spent a handful of years working for a major airline which was fantastic as it allowed me to travel the world on a post-university budget. I moved to real estate and spent many years as a commercial and residential realtor, but never felt passionate about either career. Becoming an entrepreneur and being my own boss was always the plan, but how and what I was going to do, was up in the air.
I have always been an ‘idea’ girl, thinking of all sorts of gadgets that would help make life easier. If it wasn’t a gadget, it was a service or a new idea for a TV show. Often times, years later, I would see these gadgets or ideas brought to life by others. So, when my next ‘great’ idea came to me, I thought I had better run with it!
Thankfully, this one came to me at the most opportune time. My youngest had just started school and I had some time to focus on next steps. Most importantly, I had the support of my amazing husband Andrew on this one (he didn’t always agree with my previous ideas). As someone with a family, his support was essential to me. It allowed me the freedom to take on this gigantic venture. So three years ago I developed, manufactured, and patented an idea that truly came to me in an “ah-ha” moment.
PonyDry is a waterproof hair sleeve that keeps the lengths of your hair dry, allowing you to wash just the roots. It’s a game changer, saving women time and allowing them to prevent damage from over-washing and heat. In fact, many years prior to my “ah-ha” moment I had created a makeshift version of PonyDry because, like so many other women, I had little time and long hair. I had created one the day after I’d gotten a blowout – I didn’t want to ruin it just because my roots were oily. I put together a bunch of material, buttons, and elastics, and voila! PonyDry was born. It was only two years later, however, that my “ah-ha” moment came to me while watching the Marilyn Denis Show. It must have been the universe trying to tell me something – I never watch TV during the day – but that morning I was in massive discomfort from a shoulder injury and happened to turn it on while I was stretching. The best part? Two years later my product was featured on the Marylin Denis Show.
So, my point is that sometimes your career is right in front of you, you just have to recognize it.
What challenges do you or women face in your industry?
I’m in the profession of manufacturing a product in Colombia and distributing/retailing a product in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Russia. Being in charge of so many people in so many different countries can be challenging as a woman. We certainly have issues that affect women entrepreneurs here in Canada, but outside of Canada, there are an entirely different set of problems that we don’t necessarily have to deal with. When talking to someone internationally, I often feel the minute they hear a female voice on the phone, I’ve lost control (perhaps my next invention is an app that disguises your voice as male, sadly). In the end, you need to get the job done regardless of gender. Yes, it may take two or three times the effort, but once it is complete, you feel great.
What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?
Inside all of us, there is a true calling… I know it sounds cliché but there is so much truth to it. Listen to yourself and to your instincts. They will eventually lead you to where you need to be. Be smart, be pragmatic, be conscientious of what you are doing, be kind, and most importantly, believe in yourself. Know that you will have failures… I fail all the time… but you learn most from your failures. Brush it off and move on. Even as I write this I’ve hit another roadblock and want to yell and sometimes even give up, but I don’t. Keep moving forward and accept yourself, flaws and all!
How do you separate work life from your personal life?
Oh boy, I’m still working on this. I think all women, particularly those with young kids, find this challenging. As an entrepreneur, your work is so inconsistent. One week you’re at home and it’s easy to work around the kids’ schedules, the next week you are away and it’s complete chaos. Somehow you make it work… again it takes both my husband and me working together. And, sometimes, it takes a village (my mom, my in-laws, other amazing parents, and neighbours who help out). I have to say I often just laugh about how crazy life is, but I also remind myself how lucky I am to have all this craziness. I wouldn’t change it for the world!
What inspires you?
I’ve had the good fortune to meet many amazing and inspirational people in my life. My mom, for being a single mother of two little ones in a foreign country with no family to support her. She created a product herself, which unfortunately did not succeed, but did provide a great life for my brother and me. My husband, who is one of the kindest, most tolerant, and responsible human beings I know. My kids, who show me every day how wonderful the world is.
But if there is one woman who blows me away with her smarts, her generosity, her brilliance, and tenacity, it is my dear friend Elke Rubach, of Rubach Wealth. It was only 5 years ago that Elke, after taking some time to stay home with her 3 little ones, went into the world of insurance and won top rookie in Canada. From there she started her own wealth company and now, sits on the board of the parking authority along with a few other boards I can’t even name, as I’ve lost track. Elke also started an amazing not-for-profit charity called Fashion Heals for SickKids. Women like her inspire me greatly!
When you’re off the clock, what are your indulgences?
Aside from food indulgences (aka many glasses of wine), I enjoy reading and biking, but not at the same time. You’ll never find me without a book on the go – a fluff read, an intense read, a biography, or even the next great self-help book. With my Dutch heritage biking is a must. I love to ride (more cruising) my Dutch bike to local stores, friend’s houses, and the occasional meeting if it’s nearby. In addition to reading and biking, I love to play Paddle tennis (think tennis meets squash). I play outside all winter on a heated court – I never thought I would fall in love with a sport, but I did, and I consider myself very lucky to have found it.
One of my core beliefs is to give back in whatever way you can. I’ve always volunteered and think it’s good for the soul to give back. At 22, I volunteered at the Children’s Aid Society and became a big sister to a seven-year-old girl, who today, is still very much a part of my life. I am heavily involved with my children’s school and sit on the parent council, helping to raise funds. It’s a great way to get to know other parents, teachers, and keep up to date with what’s happening at the school. I also sit on the Board of Fashion Heals for SickKids where all proceeds go to SickKids, raising money for important research that helps save children’s lives. Every time I see the SickKids ‘VS: Undeniable’ ad it brings tears to my eyes. I’m so glad I can help and give back.