Awesome X

Why the Queen of Collaborations never waits for an opportunity

by Frances Chnaider on Jun 14, 2023

Why the Queen of Collaborations never waits for an opportunity
Meet Jess. From a 'fish out of water' to Queen of collaborations, working with ASOS, Walmart & Microsoft, Jess is infinitely interesting, R-E-A-L and loves to create her own opportunities -  whether it's owning a baby pig (one day), or helping people with their number two's...
The lives I’ve lived
My very first job was one that all 90’s kids will envy & Gen Z will never understand. I worked at a video store; rewinding VHS tapes, buffing DVD’s, talking up the latest ‘overnight hire’ & chasing exorbitant late fees. I loved that job, & continued to work the Sunday shift there for about 6 years throughout high school & university.
I wanted to work in the film industry somehow, hustling my way onto the set of The Great Gatsby & interning in odd art departments where I could. I waitressed & barista’d, bartended & fell into running a high school english tutoring business from age 19 to 24ish. I did all of this alongside what ended up being my first corporate role, in a scaling fashion & lifestyle PR agency in Sydney. I was a fish out of water in that job, a true Andy Sachs from The Devil Wears Prada, (before she attained a fashion sense).
I remember working the long hours & weekends, waking up at 5am & arriving home at 8pm. I cried often on the drive home, thinking ‘this is what I was in such a rush to get out of uni for?!’ So, I found a marketing education company closer to home with better hours & similarly-atrocious pay. 
Ultimately, I had an idea for making brand collaborations more accessible & fun for small businesses, & Collabosaurus was born. I naively built a software company around 22 with zero tech background, & it’s been a whirlwind! 8 years later, we have now attracted over 10,000 brands including Marks & Spencer, ASOS, Walmart & Cointreau.
During 2020 lockdowns, I started an e-commerce brand for fun, called No.2 Co. I hated sharing a bathroom with two boys & wanted to create something effective for the… *smells*, but also free from synthetic fragrances & packaged in a bottle stylish enough to display.
What I’ve learned along the way
Lately, there are three learnings that keep coming up for me.
1. Everything connects in hindsight. Isn’t hindsight a beautiful thing?! I thought I was throwing away half of my degree & a PR career when I left that first job, but all of it has been insanely useful.
2. Follow the joy. I definitely didn’t do this early in my career & it’s still constant work, but I have really started to tune into what I love doing & where I find joy in the day-to-day.
3. Resilience is a necessary part of it & a seriously underrated business skill. I have been walked all over, gaslit, burned out - all of it! While this sucks, it’s made me a better human & a better business person.
Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back for surviving those bad people & experiences & building resilience.
What I’m loving right now 
Can I say TikTok? I spend way too much time on there but I must say, the algorithm understands me haha. I get served the most interesting life hacks, comedy, business tips, recipes - it’s great. I’m also loving live shows right now. I took my Dad to go see Rocky Horror show this week & I never regret going to live theatre, dance or musicals! Summer also needs to get a mention. The sunshine really boosts my mood & having the evenings light until 7.30pm is fantastic.
The rule I live by
‘Don’t wait for opportunity, create it!’
I printed this quote on a bunch of Collabosaurus flyers when I first launched, & it still sticks with me.
The truth about me
I definitely trust too easily & assume the best in people. I think this is both a superpower & a curse! I’m a really optimistic person, but I’ve been walked all over because of my nature, plenty of times. With every setback I’ve built resilience and confidence, but I’m certainly still learning.
Who I want to be when I grow up
I have this weird feeling that l one day I’ll have a bunch of exotic pets (like a baby pig!) and live on a property with a house that my partner and I can transform. The trick to this fantasy is that we would also need to live near the ocean and be able to afford this kind of lavish lifestyle (with plenty of travel). So this is in my lotto win dreams I think, but I also occasionally believe that it’ll happen one day. If nothing else, let’s adopt a baby pig!
What I’ve had to do badly before I got good at it
Treating my business as a business & not my baby! Very hard to do & I am still working on mastering this, but I think there’s just something about your first startup that you have a strong emotional connection to. Every subscription cancellation still stings, but I’ve become better at being able to switch off & not associate the business’s success or challenges with my own self worth.
What I’ve realised about myself
For years & years building Collabosaurus & feeling lucky to be at certain tables or events, I’ve started to realise the value I can bring to those conversations & relationships. I’ve stopped offering to work for free - something I did in spades when I first started out. I’ve spoken at hundreds of events for free, but now I feel I’ve earned my stripes with things like that & earned my spot at the table.
My thoughts re: self-love
It’s important & should be prioritised! This looks vastly different for every individual. For me, it’s a balance with food, exercise, sleep & socialising. These in abundance help my mindset loads!
Top business/confidence/resilience tip
You’ve made it through 100% of the bad days you’ve had so far. Keep going, you’re smart & you’ve got this!!!
Follow Jess @jessruhfus for more.
"I'll have what she's having" - see our G&T cocktails that started it all.