STARTING your own business is no small task, but they say passion helps.
Phillip Island surfer Jess Laing grew up around the ocean, surfing competitively from the age of 8.
She competed on the professional scene for more than ten years.
Her progression to a surf coach and running her business Girls on Board started in 2012.
“I started Girls on Board… with the dream and vision of encouraging females to get in the water,” said Jess.
“At the time there was a huge rise in the number of girls interested in surfing but a lack of female coaches.
“I aimed to create a safe, fun and non-judgemental environment for everyone. My aim has always been to encourage girls but not exclude guys.”
Taking the first steps of her business, Jess appreciates the help of her parents and previous employer who gave her freedom to develop her business.
“I have always had my parents supporting my decisions 100 per cent of the time, [for] which I am forever grateful.
“When I first opened the surf school, I was also working casually at Fullcircle Surf shop. They were terrific and gave me flexibility on my hours in the shop, which gave me the opportunity to build the surf school up gradually without too much pressure.”
Jess says recommendations from clients are valuable, while she also utilises social media to help with advertising.
“I use social media and my website to connect with clients; they are both helpful however, I think most of my clients come through word of mouth.”
Growing up in a surfing family, Jess’ father taught her to surf at the age of four.
“I grew up as a competitive surfer and did that seriously from the age of 8 until I was about 19.
“Once I decided to become a surf coach, I completed my level one and two surf coaching certificates through Surfing Australia and am now proud to be a Surfing Australia accredited surf school.
“My students definitely help to motivate me, I love that I get to create relationships with the people that I am teaching and watch them fall in love with the incredible lifestyle that I have been lucky enough to grow up in.
“If I am having a bad day, I always feel better after going to work. It’s like a big community of girls and guys of all ages and levels of experience with a love for surfing and the lifestyle that surrounds it.”
Looking forward, Jess says there’s big potential for women’s surfing, both on the Island and around the world.
“I see the business and women and girls surfing growing and growing and I am really looking forward to what the future holds.”
Get on board with Jess