Jess Sands is no stranger to the challenges of starting a business. A few years ago, she was a successful full-time graphic designer, with a portfolio including Disney, Caroline Gardner and Marks & Spencer.
But when she met her future husband, a pilot in the RAF, everything changed. Moving house every two years meant that Jess had to give up the career that she loved. After a year struggling to get employment in an often reluctant market to hire military spouses due to their transitory nature, Jess decided to develop her business Design Jessica. Since then, she has gone from strength to strength.
Jess is passionate about helping other military spouses, partners and other-halves through the same difficult transition that she made. Her business specialises in designing brands for new companies within the armed forces community.
She was initially inspired to start a business network off the back of a particularly tough few years during the Afghanistan conflict where she felt incredibly isolated. Finding her business to be a source of distraction and connection to like-minded people, she started a networking group in her first posting.
Since then, that idea has evolved into The Milspo Business Network – an inclusive group to stop the feeling of isolation due to military life.
Jess has been honoured as a top 100 UK SME business with Small Business Saturday in 2018, an f:entrepreneur 2019 top UK female entrepreneur and sits on the MOD Partner Employment Steering Group as a Milspo Ambassador. Milspo has been awarded a 2021 DRM Silver Award, and shortlisted for a Women In Defence Award. The InDependent Spouse podcast is sponsored by the Royal British Legion and has 13,500 downloads in over 20 countries.
Recent moves have seen Jess run her company from Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire…and back to Oxfordshire…and now from Central London, with the next posting expected in 2022!
When Jess isn’t running her business, and creating podcasts you can find her singing in her local Military Wives Choir, walking her rescue dog Emma, or getting bashed on a hockey pitch. She’s married to a wonderful, but very ‘operational’ RAF Officer, and lives with her two rescue cats Freya and Odin, and of course Emma.