Who am I?
My name is Jess and I am the other half of Mortgage Mates.
I grew up in little old Adelaide, which for those of you who have never been there is extremely underrated! Following school I moved over to Melbourne to explore new opportunities and study. This move, while not across the other side of the world, definitely shaped who I am today. It grew my confidence in trying something new and stepping outside my comfort zone. I will eternally thank my parents for supporting me in this. They provided me with a safety net that allowed me to take risks, try new things and step into the unknown, knowing that if something didn’t quite work out I’d always have somewhere and something to fall back on. As my mum said to me, “what the worst that will happen, you hate it? Then you come home”. This has stuck with me and has driven many of my decisions. Since moving to Melbourne, I have continued to follow the unknown, having lived in South Africa, Nepal, Perth and now back to Melbourne.
During my first stint in Melbourne I completed my studies in Psychology and Criminology and then a Master of International Relations – taking on a bit of a mish-mash of topics and themes as I tried to figure out what I wanted to do. It was during my Masters degree where I had the opportunity to travel to South Africa for 6 months and complete a Law and Human Rights internship, that my career started to become defined.
I had always been drawn to helping people but as I walked into Pollsmoor (donned one of the world’s worst prisons) and started to listen to the stories from the children I was writing defence cases for, the giant understatement that “we don’t all start on the same playing field”, really hit home.
We do not each have an equal start in life, and realistically we never will. We all grow up in different families, in different countries and with different challenges. It was during this point in time that I knew that I wanted to work alongside people to empower them to gain the best possible opportunities, as circumstance should not rule you out of an opportunity.
From there I continued to volunteer and work in the humanitarian field both in Australia and internationally. Yet after living in Melbourne for about 7 years, my life took another major turn when my partner Marcus was offered an opportunity in Perth to join a start-up working in the medical tech industry. Using the same mentality that saw me move to Melbourne, we quit our jobs, packed up our life and 4 weeks later we put our one-eyed cat Reuben on a plane and jetted off to sunny Perth.
This was my first insight into “start-up” life. We lived in what I guess you call an ‘incubator’. A house with one lawyer, 4 engineers, a one-eyed cat and myself. As an outsider, it was exciting to see the work progress, the ups and downs of running your own business, the opportunities (and inevitable stressors) and the passion that goes into it.
This start up world coincided with meeting Daisy, the other half of Mortgage Mates. Each Friday night we’d head down to the local pub after work and scheme about how we could solve huge world problems, including ending homelessness. It was during these beers that Daisy mentioned her idea of linking people together to co-own properties, it was an idea she’d had for a few years. It didn’t take long (or many beers) for us to decide that from that point on, we were determined to make sure it wouldn’t remain just an idea, but that we would bring it to life.
Throughout my career to date, a key resounding and important element in my work is “opportunity”. Whether it be the opportunity to access education, to be given a second chance after contact with the justice system, to be given a chance with a future employer and to have the opportunity to excel and become to best version of yourself.
I am passionate about ensuring people have access to the best opportunities and creating long term social change. This may mean fundamentally changing an issue, shifting mindsets, increasing support and opportunities, and lastly – create lasting, sustainable solutions.
This is what drew me to the idea of Mortgage Mates. It is a real solution to not only allow people priced out of the property market to purchase a home, but to shift the entire housing continuum to free up the rental market and allow greater access to rental properties for those who are currently struggling to afford a roof over their head.
I have since moved back to Melbourne and live with my partner and Reuben (our one-eyed cat) and continue to work on Mortgage Mates juggling work, time differences and the Nullarbor in between!