This year for International Women’s Day, we want to honor the journeys and ever-growing influence of women who are leaders, rolemodels and tastemakers – while celebrating the wonderful women who are part of the AMG family and wider community.
For International Women’s Day, model and beauty entrepreneur Jess Hart talks about the women who inspire her, what drives her professionally and shares her advice for the next female generation.
Jess Hart is a hard-working woman, and not even the birth of her second child, just days earlier, can keep her away from this interview. She’s got used to juggling parenthood, a successful beauty brand and a modelling career that has spanned two decades and seen her walk for everyone from Victoria’s Secret to Louis Vuitton and Max Mara, and continuously appear in leading fashion magazines including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle. She’s a poster girl for young women who want to make the transition from model to entrepreneur, an inspiration for her ever-growing Instagram following and having started her modelling career at just 15 years old, she’s the perfect case study in bravery, strength and resilience. So, who better to share her journey for International Women’s Day than one of AMG’s most motivating ambassadors? Here, Jess reveals who inspires her, what she’s dared to risk over the years and how she found her voice.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It just makes me so proud to be a woman and it makes me take a second to stop and think about all the women before me that have made it possible to be where we are today. It’s important to be reminded of the sacrifices of those before us, the women standing up for themselves and speaking out to get us where we are today. And we need to continue to be like those women and inspire our next generations where we are all one, no matter our race, gender or sexuality.
How would you want to inspire the next generation?
If I can give young women anything, it’s to encourage them to make a stand for themselves. It's not about talking back to your mother because you're different or because you have a different opinion, but it’s about really acknowledging your passion and what drives you. It's okay to be different. It's okay to have a different way of thinking, because so many kids think differently and that should be encouraged.
What’s helped you formulate this attitude?
One of our family members has just been diagnosed with dyslexia and it’s so incredible the way that she thinks in a scientific and mathematical way – it is so powerful, but it’s continuously being described as a disorder. I want to inspire the importance of difference, the sooner we embrace this, then young people can work in a way that suits them better. I know what it’s like wanting to look a different way when I was younger, wanting to be more like the models with boyish features or really exaggerated looks that were getting all the high fashion campaigns, rather than this ‘pretty, commercial, sexy model’ as I was described, but I’ve grown to accept myself for who I am and celebrate my qualities and the way I look and now. I’m keen to be a role model that champions being different.
Why is daring to be different, to break traditional moulds in different industries, so important?
This lends itself to International Women's Day, if no woman had ever taken a risk, where would we be now? Sometimes a big risk for you could have immense positiveness for others too. Imagine the risks that have been taken over the years by the women before us so we can enjoy what we have today.
What can you say about the importance of AMG’s commitment to encouraging people to dare to be different and to be who you want to be?
AMG is always taking risks and is the first to do everything, that’s why I love the brand. So far, I've only worked with women at AMG, and I love that, it’s got women in lead positions, and rightfully so, but that’s still not the case with other companies.
AMG is enabling women to pursue their dreams and putting them in lead positions to foster their personal growth. AMG is all about taking things to the next level and is doing that because it has females helping lead the way. The same can be said about AMG’s promise to be all electric by 2030, it’s daring to make a stand where everyone else is afraid, AMG is all about being first, and it does it unapologetically. This is a good message for the next generation, in teaching them to also dare to be different, to understand that they can be whatever they want to be, it doesn’t matter what you look like you can still be a doctor, a judge or lawyer or a racing driver.
What is the biggest risk you’ve taken?
Starting a beauty brand was a big, big risk for me, as a model, one of the biggest paydays is getting signed by a beauty brand – that could be you done for the next 20 years! But the minute anyone creates a brand in that industry, you take yourself out of the game for any makeup campaign, so I was risking that, even at that age, I was really aware of that. They won't book you when you have your own brand, but I was just so sure that I had a good thing with LUMA BEAUTY, although I was reminded of this big risk every time there was a hiccup!
How did you pivot from being a success in the fashion world to making a claim in the beauty industry?
I just loved makeup. I was always playing with everything on set, I would have all these samples running up my arm, I was so fascinated by what all the products did and beauty quickly became my focus and my passion. I started learning while I was still modelling, I got a real insight into so many different businesses and how they were run. Then at 24, I signed the contract with my business partner, and we decided that we were going to go ahead and do this thing for LUMA BEAUTY.
Why was risk taking essential for you in your career?
Knowing how big the risk was, made me work so hard to make sure I had the perfect ingredients for every one of my products, and that each product was made to the highest level possible, at times that even meant making each product in different factories. The risk forced me to be better. Taking risks is important for growing in yourself and growing what’s available in your industry. If you're not taking a risk, you're probably not doing anything that innovative, anything that hasn't been done before. You must take risks to get outside of your comfort zone, even if they’re small risks, take that step – women are brilliant at taking risks! And also, don’t be afraid to fail, know that failure is the epitome of growing and learning.
Who was your biggest female role model?
It was always my mom. She was a single mom with us two daughters and the main female figure in my life to look up to, she was on a teacher's wage and working two or three jobs sometimes. My sister and I had to do a lot for ourselves, we had to be on our own a lot. Mom was really tough – like a mom and a dad in one, and that toughness set me up with the strength I needed to start a career so early. She really was my inspiration. My mom had brought us up in such a strong way that there was no question that I could go, live and work overseas by myself. My very first trip was when I was 15, it was from Australia to Japan for three months. Mom came with me for the first three weeks just to set me up and then left: she knew, and I knew, that she had raised us to be able to look after ourselves. I didn't think twice at the time that it was inappropriate living by myself in a foreign country, because I was so capable and independent – that’s just the way my mom, my sister and I were.
You’ve said that being a model from a young age, you were always told what to do – how to smile and act, how has that experience shaped you?
I was 15 when I started modelling and at the time, I didn’t even realise it was happening, you're just doing what you're told, and you do it because you’re a kid. And then all of a sudden, in my early 20s, I started to realise that I'm just constantly being told what to do and there was a part of me that was wanting to grow up and be independent and have an opinion, but you’d go on set and nobody asks your opinion about anything and after having done so many jobs, you do have an opinion. But there are positives from that experience, I think it's really helped me become more independent now, and also appreciate that independence. And then there’s the amount of patience that I've had to learn – I think it's set me up for becoming a mother, and to be patient, tolerant and polite. It’s also shaped the way I’m running my own company, I think it’s really helpful to incorporate everybody's opinion. It's just really important that everyone, no matter what their job is, is heard. Their opinion is important.
Do you think the fashion industry has changed in terms of empowering young models?
It's a different world today, where everyone has their Instagram and is creating their own personality. Before, it was almost better to be plain, it was attractive to brands because you didn't speak outside of what they were trying to sell. I experienced some struggles because of the gap in my teeth – a lot of clients wouldn't book me because it would become more about me than the clothing that we were trying to sell. With that being said, you can see that models do have a voice nowadays. The industry has changed and it’s more about who you are, rather than what you look like which is something to be celebrated, it’s giving young women a chance to be themselves and elevate their voices which is important in terms of championing equality.
As we look ahead, what’s your message for the future generation of women?
As well as fighting for positive change, I want them to know that it’s ok to just be you. I spent a long time behaving like I thought a model should, I loved cars and driving but I covered it up because I didn’t see any other models pursuing that interest. I think the ultimate peace and happiness is accepting who we are, exactly as we are. There’s this whole pressure about having to be OK and happy, but no one is ever 100% OK, 100% of the time, and that's OK! And it's alright to have our down days, and our hormonal days, and then our days where we look well. If you can start embracing you for who you are - that’s a really big step, and it will help you in every aspect of life and career, it will even help you take risks and grow.