The Faces of Women of Vietnam

Jessica Hilston

She is an Australian/Vietnamese, has a Bachelors in Management and Marketing. Founder/ Chief Bossy Pants of BY-OWN.COM and Co Founder of Women of Saigon, currently living in between Saigon and Perth, Western Australia.

Three key words to describe yourself?
Fulltime Day Dreamer

Who inspires you?
My mother - my biggest inspiration, and best friend. From the youngest age, my mother has always encouraged us to “follow your dreams, and do whatever makes you happy” without her unconditional support, love, and the sacrifices she has made during her life to ensure my brother and I can have the opportunities we have today, I definitely wouldn’t be doing what I am today. 

What accomplishments are you proud of?
Even though this year is only beginning, I think we should all be proud of what we have achieved and the skills we have developed to date. Not many people know this, but I am the first person to graduate University from my mother side of the family. My greatest achievement would be leaving my comfort zone, and moving to a country I barely knew anyone, launching my first startup, forming new friendship groups and co creating this community of amazing women.

What book have you recently read that you would recommend?
The Economic Naturalist: Why economics explains almost everything by Robert H Frank. I picked this book up at the airport a year ago when my flight was delayed out of Bali, but only found it amongst my dusty bookshelf when I was back in Australia last month. 

“Economics doesn’t just happen in classrooms or banks. It is everywhere and influences everything we do and see, from the cinema screen to the streets. It can even explain some of life’s most intriguing enigmas.” 

It’s fascinating to see how everything is based on pure economics. I think you would enjoy this book too, worth adding this to your reading list.

What advice would you give your 18 year old self?
You’re going to have more bad days than good days, learn to take the good with the bad. Nothing anyone does is ever about you, fight for what you believe in, even if you think its ridiculous, because if you don’t, who will? Fear is only in your head, its never as bad as you think.

What would you tell the next generation of young women in Saigon?
You are 100% capable to do whatever your heart desires, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. My favourite quote “For what its worth: its never too late or, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it, and I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” - Mark Twain.

What’s next for Women of Saigon?
We have just welcomed Co-Organisers Cam, Svetta, and Quynh to our amazing team! We’re working on some very exciting projects behind the scenes which we'll be announcing in the next few days. Keep checking in!