I am woman, hear me soar

On the way up: Jess Jones says there has been a huge increase in women in business in Ballarat in recent years. Picture: Kate Healy
On the way up: Jess Jones says there has been a huge increase in women in business in Ballarat in recent years. Picture: Kate Healy

With all its talk of glass ceilings, insurmountable ladders and other grim metaphors, the business world can still be tough for women.

But Jess Jones, who is about to launch a women’s business collective in Ballarat, says that with the right opportunities and networking opportunities, gender should be no barrier to anyone who wants to achieve their full potential.

Ms Jones currently runs her Soar Collective networking events on the Mornington Peninsula and Berwick, and said Ballarat was in dire need of a fresh and contemporary approach to women’s business networking.

She said it was common in regional areas for networking events to be either a “bit dated and daggy”, or full of pushy people sticking their business cards under too many noses.

“The reason I started Soar was I’d been attending networking events and seminars and workshops for a very long time, since my early 20s, and I found I was getting jaded. A lot of the events were becoming very pushy, people were shoving business cards in your face, and there was a male-dominated energy, which I got sick of,” Ms Jones said.

“People had lost touch with the point of networking and to refer business to each other. The industry was shifting to that mentality of people thinking what was in it for them. I felt like it was time to do something different.”

She said about 98 per cent of women who attended her sessions were business owners, with the rest professionals, including real estate agents, auctioneers, graphic designers, consultants, content coaches, and women in medical management.

Each session features an inspirational speaker, food and wine.

“The idea is that women can come and be comfortable saying whatever they want to – I’ve had a rubbish day, a crap week, sales haven’t been good and I don’t know how I’m going to pay my bills or my rent,” she said.

“It’s good to know everyone does the hard slog – it’s not sunshine and lollipops all the time.”

The first Ballarat event will be held July 28 at The Provincial, with speaker Janelle Ryan from The Little PR Company. For more details, visit soarcollective.com