Meet Jennifer MacDonald-Nethercott, Founder of Wilder Waves. Having worked in marketing for over 20 years, she really wanted to create her own brand and product range to grow and develop further. She has always supported other business owners with their vision for a business and a brand and now is the time to develop my own.
Wilder Waves was created during the winter lockdown of 2021. Jennifer has always known that e-commerce was the way to build an additional business from the Highlands and with launching a new company she also wanted to have a social responsibility aspect to it built in from the start. As her children are both surfers and spend a lot of time by the sea, supporting the seas and oceans was a natural cause that as a family they can get behind and really believe in. Choosing a charity that is really making a difference to ocean waste is something they have built into the heart of the purpose of the business and are supporting Ocean Generation in their start-up year.
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Let’s learn a little about you and really get to experience what makes us tick – starting at our beginnings. Where did your story begin?
Jennifer MacDonald-Nethercott: My first job was working in the leisure department at the Coylumbridge Hotel, Aviemore. This really taught me about the importance of teamwork and customer service and included everything from lifeguarding to being Cyril the Squirrel. It was also a lot of fun!
After working in hospitality, I moved to a sales and marketing role, and during this time I realized that cold calling was not for me! Marketing really gets to know the customer, what they want from products and services, and making sure that these are delivered profitably for the business. I also had a really supportive manager that encouraged me to continue my personal development in marketing.
Then in 2021 after spending 20 years promoting other people’s brands and services I really wanted to create my own brand, market, and sell my own products and so Wilder Waves was created. Wilder Waves’ e-commerce website was the result, creating designs for clothing made from organic cotton and recycled materials, with a donation from every sale to Ocean Generation.
I was motivated by family holidays surfing and paddle boarding and a desire to do something that would support the education and protection of our oceans. With a little more time on my hands than usual, I was able to fully research and identify products that match my sustainability aims, from only using organic cotton and recycled packaging to ensuring even the ink used for the designs is non-toxic and vegan. It’s about Wilder Waves creating clothing that people will want to buy because of the design, the company ethos, and the contribution to Ocean Generation.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Jennifer MacDonald-Nethercott: Wilder Waves is a start-up and I’m just 3 months into my journey. Obstacles so far have been with the supply chain and ensuring that my customers receive the product on time. I know there will be more challenges along the way and I am prepared to go slow in building the business.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Jennifer MacDonald-Nethercott: Marketing will play an important role for the business as we recover economically from the pandemic. Having a strategy in place so you know what’s happening around you and how you’re going to achieve your objectives will be key to all marketing activity for the rest of the year.
With a marketing plan in place, you can keep focused on your messaging and your target clients and it’ll prevent you from going off-piste and being distracted by the next new ‘shiny opportunity’ that comes along. Also, keep communicating with customers, suppliers, and contacts so they know your plans, when you’re open, what you’re offering, and enjoy this. Promoting your business is fun, everyone enjoys marketing, and ensuring your plan is in place with a budget to support it will generate results for the business. I would make sure that you have the right support for marketing in place too, who is best to create the plan, create the Facebook ads and design your adverts. Use the experts that are out there.
Has the pandemic and transitioning into mostly online shopping affected your company positively or negatively?
Jennifer MacDonald-Nethercott: This has been really positive for starting my business Wilder Waves. Starting an online apparel wear business was a key driver and the pandemic has changed shopping habits for good. We all see the advantage of being able to shop online from home and have products delivered directly to our door.
Shopping has changed for good.
What is most important to your organization—mission, vision, or values?
Jennifer MacDonald-Nethercott: Having been in marketing for over 20 years it’s a really exciting journey to have created my own clothing brand and being able to shape the sustainability of the business and its practices from the start and aligning with the UN Sustainability Goals for 2030. Having a charitable partner on board from day 1 was really important to the purpose behind the brand and having the business give back.
Ocean Generation was chosen as the charitable partner as they believe in storytelling to raise the awareness of marine conservation and what steps we can all make to reduce the plastic we use, the clean-up of our oceans, and ultimately to stop plastic from reaching our oceans.
By bringing science together with film, Ocean Generation is engaging a new generation who can be the driver for change that our world needs now, and Wilder Waves has partnered with them to share their messages and actively contribute to their vital cause.
The business creates designs for t-shirts and hooded tops, made from organic cotton or a blend of organic cotton and recycled materials. The sustainability journey is at the start with the products and also the packaging which is all paper and can be recycled.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Jennifer MacDonald-Nethercott: Listening, Self-belief, Personal Development.
By focusing on always learning about yourself as well as in your area of expertise you become the leader that people will follow.
What have you learned about personal branding that you wish you had known earlier in your career?
Jennifer MacDonald-Nethercott: I wish I hadn’t been afraid to be myself and talk about what I believe in rather than always pushing the employer. You need to be yourself and work for someone that will allow you to grow personally and professionally.
How would you define “leadership”?
Jennifer MacDonald-Nethercott: Someone who will listen to their team, be involved, and motivate from the front. Also, be really clear about what the business stands for and communicate with your team.
What would you say is the main difference between starting a business at the time you started yours and starting the business in today’s age?
Jennifer MacDonald-Nethercott: Starting a business today I would say bring on experts in their field early and outsource early on so you can focus on developing the business. Always be working on the business from the start and be aware of opportunities that could take you in a different direction.
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Jennifer MacDonald-Nethercott: Done is better than perfect.
Get out there and take action taking the risk means you can adapt and move the business forward quicker than waiting for everything to be perfect.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Jennifer MacDonald-Nethercott for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Jennifer MacDonald-Nethercott or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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