“Let go of who you think you should be and embrace who you are.” — Brene Brown
Hey, it’s nice to meet you.
I’m Jess, the voice and visionary behind DiscoverHER Project. A little about me: I am a big fan of celebrations. I love any excuse to dress up and celebrate the little things that fuel our happiness and growth. Often enough, you can usually find me with a chai latte in hand, wandering around a bookstore or planning my next trip around the globe.
DiscoverHER Project was founded during a season of change.
After having graduated from university, I felt a little lost. Growing up, I was raised under the notion that success means getting a diploma, working a corporate job with benefits, owning a house, and starting a family. Preferably in that order. Subconsciously, I was taught that my worth was linked to my job title, salary, and accomplishments. That was how people perceive us and that I had to keep up that image.
For a reason I couldn’t explain at that time, this “life mission” didn’t sit right with me. I felt that something was missing. I mean, there had to be something bigger than working 9-5 every day… right?
I began going down this road to discover what that entailed and how I would fit into that. This led me to spend quite a bit of time reflecting back on my teenage years and early twenties. Throughout those years, I have had my fair share of dealing with gossip and mean girls where I was taunted and judged for being myself. My confidence plummeted drastically; making me feel insignificant and out of place. Self-doubt crept in and anxiety crippled me. I felt embarrassed for not living up to other people’s standards. I also grew up in a culture where we were groomed from a young age to be competitive, smart, and busy. To always strive to be better and do better than someone else, no matter what.
One day, it hit me. I realized that for the longest time, I didn’t have the say in choosing who or what I wanted to be. That decision had always been masked by societal pressures, parental expectations, and low self-esteem.
Who is Jess Poon?!?!?! What skills and gifts have I been blessed with? Who do I want to become? What inspires me? What mark do I want to leave in this world?
There have been two distinct instances in my life where I remembered the fire burning inside me. The quiet girl with low self-esteem suddenly felt like she could conquer the world someday. I rose through ranks and led summer camps, committees, and more. I won awards and was recognized for my efforts. I was proud of who I became through leadership and community. I felt fulfilled with what I was doing.
One taught me how to lead by example in a male-dominated organization.
The other taught me that anything is possible with the right mindset and attitude.
Both taught me that I was worthy of belonging and living.
How do I use that to fuel my own life mission?
We teach what we most need to learn.
Looking back, I realized that was the piece missing. DiscoverHER Project has been a journey of reflection and self-love. Growing this brand has not pushed me to grow outside of my comfort zone, but it has open my heart to so many possibilities. It has given me a platform to show my vulnerability, it has given me a taste of freedom, and most of all, it has allowed me to grow into the person I am today.
Paying it forward, I want to continue this dialogue and show the next generation of girls to own who they are and to believe in themselves. I want to build a community where I could gather the next generation of girls to spark conversations about topics they are passionate about; a place for girls to go to, feel safe, and not alone. I want to give girls and women around the world the same opportunities and tools I was given so that they could achieve their passions and maximize their potential. I want to ignite the inner fire in each girl and encourage them to help themselves by helping others.
The greatest lesson I learned is that the flame within us lit the brightest on each of our paths when we were helping others, creating things, and making a difference within our community.
DiscoverHERProject became that flame for me.
The foundation of a young girl is shaped during her adolescence and is perhaps the most pivotal developmental years of her life. Back then, I was that lost little girl who didn’t believe in herself or feel worthy of belonging despite having potential. All I needed was to be surrounded by the right people and focus on what made sense to me. I truly believe that achieving success in work and life is tied to a fundamental understanding of core values, key character traits, and self-awareness.
Be who you needed when you were younger.
My wish is for girls to understand the power and potential they have within themselves and to use it for a greater good. Women-culture is shifting and every girl deserves to be rooted in their self-worth; to turn self-doubts and fears into self-love and faith. We are at our best when we build each other up and support each other, no matter the zip code or country we live in. We are all on the same team and we all deserve to have the same freedom.