Jamaican Jessica Huie was a mother at the very young age of 17. Determined to establish a great future for herself and her daughter Monet, she decided when her baby was only 9 months old, to study media.
Her ambition paid off and Jessica enjoyed a very successful career in the glamourous world of TV and PR, flying all over the world interviewing celebrities. But she’s always wanted more and in 2007 she created Colorblind Cards, bringing diversity to the cards industry. A year later Jessica also created JHPR, her own PR agency. Jessica now runs the two companies, while enjoying being a mum a second time around. She talks to Myriam O’Carroll about her journey and what drives her.
Jessica, you were a young mother, at the age of 17, and with a nine-months old baby at home, you decided to study media. What was the attraction about the media world?
I had always enjoyed reading and writing, English was a subject I excelled at. I had this kind of fantasy of flying round the world and interviewing celebrities, so I thought I would pursue journalism and see where it would take me.
I had the motivation of wanting a good life for myself and for my daughter, so I had a powerful catalyst driving me.
What was the most challenging in studying while raising a small child?
Adapting to motherhood was difficult anyway, without the additional course work, which I was trying to undertake. But I became very determined, very quickly, and as soon as I went back to education I had the motivation of wanting a good life for myself and for my daughter, so I had a powerful catalyst driving me.
What did you learn working with high-demanding clients?
I learnt that celebrity and wealth do not necessarily make you happy. It gave me access to an amazing lifestyle and wonderful experiences… but I think as you grow up, you become much more aware of your own values, what’s important to you and what you want to do with your life. These days I do less with celebrities and more with inspirational entrepreneurs.
In 2007 you decided to create your own company, Colorblind Cards and became your own boss. Why this urge?
I was still very ambitious even working for Max Clifford at the pinnacle of British Media. I was on a lunch break and as I was looking for a card for my daughter. I recognised that there was a complete absence of multicultural cards on the high street. I thought it is important that all children have access to positive image about themselves through images that reflect their own identity, but on the commercial level, there was a really good opportunity for business there, because the mixed race ethnic group is the fastest growing in this country. No one seemed to be doing it, so I decided to do it myself! I am impulsive and so Colorblind Cards was born!
My First client was Hilary Devey, then it was Kelly Rowland and people started recommending me
How did you set it up?
My media career meant that I had this wonderful network of people who would assist the launch of Colorblind Cards, but I continued to work for Max Clifford for another two years, fulltime. I was really running this business on my lunch break and staying up late at night.
A year after, in 2008, you created you own PR agency, JHPR. Why that?
I left Max Clifford but I love the media, so I wanted to keep a foot in it. My First client was Hilary Devey, then it was Kelly Rowland and people started recommending me, so it kind of snowballed, without me having to pitch for business, it just happened. It does work well to have Colorblind Cards and JHPR, they complement each other’s.
What are the next challenges for your business(es) doing today?
With Colorblind Cards, we’ve just launched our personalized service and 10 new different products. We are also sponsoring Caribbean Fashion Week in Jamaica. On the JHPR front I have just taken on Forward Ladies, which is a wonderful support organization for women in business. We are launching a series of events where we feature interesting and inspirational business people.
How do you find time to network and which advice would you give?
I am an organic networker. I have a very diverse network. My advice would be to follow up and reconnect. I often go through my stacks of business cards and think about who might be interested in what I am doing now – or who could I possibly assist because of where I am now? And I just drop them an email – it is a fantastic way to reinvigorate your network.
Where do you get your inspiration?
From my children. Monet my daughter definitely inspired me to make something of my life and she continues to. My son, who is 6 months old, is just giving me a new burst of energy and a reason to illustrate to him that you can do whatever you want, you just need to have the work ethics and the focus to realise your aspirations.