Jasmine Lee – Nicholls
Jasmine Lee – Nicholls is the COO and Founder at FlashFomo. She is from Melbourne, Australia and grew up in the suburbs with 2 sisters and a brother and wonderful supportive parents. She studied an associate degree in fashion design and then a Bachelor of Business in Marketing. She lived in Singapore between 2012 – 2018 which she totally loved! She is married to a wonderful man who shares her entrepreneurial spirit and they have 2 gorgeous fun loving boys who are 2 and 4. She always liked having business ideas and running her own little things before side hustles were a thing. She loves technology, is fascinated by science, loves music and craft relaxes her.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
We were brought up with a healthy attitude towards working and me and my siblings started doing jobs in my dad’s business when we were quite young. Our favorite was folding letters, putting them into envelopes and then getting to use the special stamping machine! I always liked having a few jobs on the go and have done everything from office admin, to events, to being an extra, working in a bakery, chicken shop and clothes shop. I was always fascinated by the camera and my friends and I would spend endless hours creating silly videos of ourselves (thank goodness social media didn’t exist so no one can see these haha) I was quite shy but had a strange confidence as a young teenager to push myself into very uncomfortable situations and to just TRY – like auditioning for a solo singing spot or nominating to become a school house captain. I was never going to get these positions, but even as I finished my speech with burning red cheeks of embarrassment I still felt proud that I’d pushed myself and tried!
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
When I met my now husband, we shared a love of putting on events that would surprise people. Even before we got together we started a business called JFSAG (just for shits and giggles)- the name really says it all! We wanted to put on events for our friends that were heaps of fun and made us a bit of profit. We had the perfect combination of his networking ability and my executional abilities which has continued throughout all the things we’ve done. We ran dinner parties, a race day, music event, farm adventure and created some of the best memories of our 20’s during our JFSAG days. This lit the passion in me that an idea can come to life if you have the right team and support. I’ve tried many small business ideas from ‘Sparkle Sisters’ kids parties to more serious pursuits like ‘The Discerning Dog’ a range of dog products and ‘Bliss Retreats’ getaways for New Mothers. Were they all a success? No. Did they even all get off the ground? Absolutely not! Did I learn an immense amount about how I work best and the realities of running a business? Definitely. With each I learnt more about business setup, financing, legal, graphic design, social media, marketing etc etc and i JUST loved all of these little business babies. After entering the ‘real’ world and working at multiple global media agencies in Melbourne and Singapore I then had the skills to branch out and run a more grown up version of JFSAG, focusing on freelance digital media & marketing services.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say “YES, go for it!”
We moved back to Melbourne, Australia from Singapore in 2018 and I had my first baby Freddie in June that year. We had had this idea for a long time to help creators in South East Asia create their own branded merchandise as it was a booming area with no one supporting it. With a 6 month old baby we said let’s do it, we’ve always said we wanted to do our own thing so the time is now. So my husband quit his job and we both went full time into FlashFomo (crazy!) So the motivation was that there was no choice for failure, we HAD to make it work as we had absolutely everything financially riding on it. Nothing like a small baby and no income to motivate you! We’ve always both been risk takers which has paid off in many ways whether in amazing experiences or great life lessons, we knew it would be hard but somehow we kept the hope alive this whole time even through some very tough days!
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
It is stressful!!! There are amazing days and there are not so amazing days. There are times when we had a few hundred dollars in the bank and we felt sick with worry about how to get through to the next step. The highs of potential opportunities and the lows of another opportunity not coming through. You have to learn to stay level and not get too excited and not too depressed when waiting on the outcome of an opportunity. Sleep deprivation from having our 2nd baby definitely didn’t help and a husband and wife working together has its own unique set of amazing moments and challenges. Luckily we learnt to be very good communicators and divide and conquer work and life. Honestly it wasn’t at all easy, there were times when we looked to our star signs just for some form of hope (anything!) that something would come though! Incredibly things always did, mainly from the very hard work my husband put into making opportunities out of thin air. You definitely can’t wait for things to come to you in these situations. Living through some of the worst lockdowns in the world in Melbourne both helped and hindered
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
Covid gave us the opportunity to completely focus on building our business in a way that no other time would have. With all the usual distractions in life I don’t know if we would have come as far if Covid didn’t happen. However, being a business where meeting people and gaining credibility and trust is so important it was a real hindrance not being able to meet people face to face. I also loved that kids suddenly popped up everywhere during covid, it turns out everyone has them and that it’s normal for them to interrupt. This was a lovely side to covid that you can still be professional and a real human as well.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
– Winner of the StartUp Pitch at Startup Grind, Melbourne 2019
– Chosen as one of 200 global exhibitors at the Startup Grind Global Conference Silicon Valley 2019 (out of 3200 applicants) Then chosen as one of the top 60 companies to be part of the StartUp Grind Global Accelerator program
– SOSV venture capital were one of our first investors and as part of this, we were accepted into the intensive Chinaccelerator program. This was a fantastic journey and really helped us to streamline our business into what it is today.
– We were also thrilled to win the AiMCO (Australian Influencer Marketing Council) award for Best Influencer Marketing Platform or Technology competing against much, much larger organizations than ourselves. This was a real highlight being able to accept the award with my husband and an acknowledgment that the hard work pays off.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
For me it’s all around children and childcare. How to make it a more level playing field in careers for women that are pregnant and then have small children. This life stage is so complex emotionally & physically for a woman and comes with so many barriers that men just don’t have to contend with. I don’t have the answer but with smart people pondering this issue there must be smarter ways of doing things.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
Networking isn’t scary and all about going up to strangers and pushing your agenda onto people. It’s just being yourself, finding people you connect with very naturally and suddenly you realize that you’re ‘networking’.
Perception is reality- Some of our most important meetings have had kids screaming in the background, absolute chaos until the second we got into the call. But somehow we still managed to come across as having it all together!
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
There’s imposter syndrome everywhere. Some of the women in leadership I admire I’m terrified of, thinking they’re way too successful or amazing to even speak to me and then I’ve been surprised so many times when we have a great casual chat about life. People are just people and there are so many ways to now connect with likeminded women. It’s fantastic. You really do leave with a warm fuzzy feeling after speaking to a group of likeminded women, it’s highly motivational and inspirational.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
There is absolutely NO point in trying to be anything that you’re not, you don’t have to be. It took a long time for me to realize that I don’t have to do things that make me really uncomfortable. I don’t have to be the most amazing public speaker or know everyone and be able to do a perfect pitch for my business at the drop of a hat. I can just be myself, speak as I normally would and surprisingly the opportunities still come.