Welcome to next Jen
Jennifer Hawkins talks business, family, and her dreams for the next decade
When we were thinking about a cover star for our epic birthday issue, one name dominated the chat: Jennifer Hawkins. The Miss Universe turned model, presenter and entrepreneur embodies the kind of Aussie girl Women’s Health is all about – smart, fun, fit and health-savvy, but still happy over a wine (or a tequila, in Jen’s case!) and bowl of pasta. Fortunately, she agreed to come on board, which is how we found ourselves browsing swimsuits and eating eggs on toast with the 33-year-old at our Sydney photoshoot. Sure, it’s early on a Saturday, but the selfconfessed ‘morning person’ is a seasoned pro in front of the camera and has a Wonder Woman work ethic. No surprise there: she has four businesses (the Jbronze tan range, Cozi swimwear and awardwinning Sesión Tequila with husband Jake Wall, alongside the couple’s work in property development), plus ambassadorships with Colgate and Myer.
Yep, life is pretty frickin’ busy – but, as Jen tells us after the cameras are packed away, she wouldn’t have it any other way...
WE'RE CELEBRATING 10 YEARS OFWH. HOW DO YOU REFLECT ON YOUR PAST DECADE?
It’s been so crazy! I do look back often and think, ‘Wow, how did we get here?’ Yes, I’ve worked my butt off, but sometimes it’s nice to sit back and go, ‘You know what, I’ve been given great opportunities and I’m just really grateful for everything and for the people I have around me’.
OUR SHOOT KICKED OFF AT 7AM - BUT WHAT ARE YOUR MORNINGS TYPICALLY LIKE?
I like to get up and run on the treadmill in our home gym, or I go for a walk outside. I tend to exercise in the morning or after work, because there’s just too much happening in the day. I also do a pilates session with a trainer once a week, usually on a Saturday morning, and I’ve been doing lots of weight-resistance training and yoga, too. Even just 30 minutes [of yoga] a day is like moving meditation.
It’s hilarious – my Staffie dog Milly watches me. I thought maybe she’d come over and lick me, but she just sits and doesn’t do a thing!
WHAT DOES REGULAR EXERCISE DO FOR YOU?
It’s for the mind as well as the body. Aesthetically, you get the bonus of what it does to your body, but primarily I work out for energy, for what it does to my brain and for the endorphins it brings. If you’re having a bad day and you’re overwhelmed, or even if you’re just tired or jet lagged, get on the treadmill or elliptical and just sweat it out. Or when you’re running or doing yoga, it kind of puts things into perspective and you’re centred and can start again.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR TYPICAL DAY ON A PLATE.
Breakfast is oats with chia, flaxseed, prunes, banana and strawberries – that type of combination. Or I have fried or poached eggs on sourdough toast with lots of olive oil – I’m obsessed with olive oil – and maybe avocado. I have a pretty big breakfast, and also start with hot lemon water. I snack between meals because I need the energy if I’m exercising. I [work with] Freedom Foods and they’ve got bars with lots of fibre, so they keep you going for a long time. For lunch, it’s a chicken salad or wrap, then an orange or pear in the afternoon. And dinner is vegetables, a chicken schnitzel, steak or fish. Jake and I love pasta, too.
BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR IS A HUGE PART OF YOUR LIFE. HAVE YOU ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN BUSINESS?
I guess when you’re younger, you don’t really know what you’re going to morph into. I’ve always tried not to box myself in, so even when I was doing parttime jobs I had about three on the go – [doing] retail, receptionist work – and I went to TAFE and did business communications. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, but I had a good work ethic. It’s about always educating yourself, which I still do now.
LET'S TALK TEQUILA - HOW DID SESIÓN COME ABOUT?
Jake and I were overseas and started drinking tequila – then we saw it becoming more popular wherever we travelled. Some tequila is terrible [laughs], but ours isn’t – we didn’t want to [start the business] if it wasn’t great. Ours is [made from] 100 per cent blue agave. For us to be able to do that, we went to [see] a distiller in Mexico through a contact we had – and that’s where we ended up signing with our agave field. A friend who was in the liquor business is now our business partner. So it just started from our love of being together with friends drinking tequila!
WHAT BUSINESS LESSONS DO YOU WISH YOU'D KNOWN RIGHT BACK AT THE START?
Know your strengths and then hire a great team you trust: I’ve got a small network, but I trust them like nothing else. We brain-dump and talk about our wildest dreams. That’s really important – that you don’t feel silly – because otherwise you can’t grow the business. I love hearing what other people think. Also, learn as you go – but you have
to trust your instincts. With different opinions flying around, you have to have your vision and know where you’re going, but not be too rigid with the methods of getting there.
WHICH WOMEN DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
My mum. She worked three jobs, so just her work ethic. She had such resilience and strength, and that’s really inspiring because she did that with four kids. The other person is Arianna Huffington. I’ve read her books, and Thrive was really, really great – she gives pointers on how to deal with work but also how to step away from it. Also, [US model turned entrepreneur] Kathy Ireland. I love what she stands for and how she’s built a juggernaut of a business. She’s a real mogul.
FEMALE EMPOWERMENT IS A HUGE THEME RIGHT NOW. IS IT SOMETHING YOU'RE FEELING?
I stepped into my 30s and I did feel a sense of strength. You’re your own person and I guess you learn how to say ‘no’. My 30s have been about re-evaluating everything and saying ‘yes’ to the things that really matter. I also think I have a real strength when it comes to my work, but I’ve got another side that’s kind of softening. It’s OK to be strong, but it’s OK to be vulnerable sometimes, too. That’s where I’m at.
WHAT DOES YOUR PERFECT WEEKEND LOOK LIKE?
When my family was over recently, we had a barbecue, went for a long walk in the bush and down to the water. We just chill out together. If it’s Jake and I on a normal weekend, we’ll probably exercise and take Milly for a walk or go to the movies. I love the movies: having popcorn and chilling out is one of my favourite things. Or having breakfast then cooking dinner together – all those little things. Sometimes I think to myself, ‘I’m glad I’ve got someone that I get excited to do those little things with’.
WHICH CAUSES MEAN A LOT TO YOU? AND WHY...
Daffodil Day is very important because it deals with cancers – my mum had her kidney out [after being diagnosed with cancer], and my dad with prostate – so I really support [it]. I’m also a patron to The Hunter Children’s Research Foundation, which is in the Hunter [NSW], where my home town is. I really love The Salvation Army, too.
LASTLY, WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS?
I guess I want to build a life that I don’t need a vacation from. To just continue re-evaluating everything and prioritising people in my life. I’d love to be living near the water and have a family. I always joke with Jake that I’d love to have a farm. That’s not happening, but my dream would be to have one with a million Staffies around me because I’m obsessed!
Roxy swim top, $45.99; Cotton On Body tee, $19.95; Nookie bikini bottoms, $79.95; Armani Exchange watch, $279 @ theiconic.com.au
Lilybod sports bra, $69; Seafolly bikini bottoms, $59.95; Cotton On Body jacket, $49.95; Armani Exchange watch, $279 @ theiconic.com.au
Fella swimsuit, $190; Ivy Park parka, $129.95 @ theiconic. com.au