Jessie Wong is the founder and director of Yu Mei, a leather goods label based in Wellington. We had a chat with her about her first time investing, the investment lessons she’s learnt from her brother, and what it’s like investing while running your own business.
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I grew up on the south coast of Wellington and now live in Oriental Bay. I’m the founder and director of Yu Mei, a leather goods label that focuses on creating bags built for purpose to carry with ease, dedicated to the creation of understated luxury.
I was fresh out of university when I started Yu Mei, so have pieced this entire thing together on the fly. Building a team and finding great people to work with was all new, and managing growth with little to no experience was a lot for a 22-year-old...but I loved it! Since then, we’ve opened stores, started exporting, and have found a premium manufacturing partner to help us grow to our next stage.
What was your first investment?
I started investing with Sharesies because we’d had a few people starting to show some interest in Yu Mei and I wanted to learn how investments worked. For my first investment, I consulted my brother Matty who works as a baby investment analyst. Matty talked me through the different pros and cons of each fund, and then recommended what he would do—which I immediately did!
The process of figuring out the right investment for me helped me learn about the different positive and negative aspects of each fund. Over the first couple of weeks, I could see what was helping my Portfolio along and what wasn’t. Eventually, I decided to set up a weekly automatic payment into my Wallet. Sharesies is so friendly and easy to navigate—I kept going to see what would happen.
Why do you like being an investor?
I like investing through Sharesies because it’s so accessible. I check it every day—it’s easy and fun to watch your money grow. It’s also opened up new conversations with my brother. I talk to him on a regular basis about what’s happening in the share market. It’s an interesting context to look at world news through, and it demystifies the share market.
What’s it like investing as well as running your own business?
My investing is still minimal and I treat the money that goes out of my account as an expense over an investment. That way, I’m not looking to withdraw my money any time soon. In a way, owning and managing a business has its parallels with investing through Sharesies—everything I do for my company is an investment in my most significant shareholding, Yu Mei.
As an employer, I try to get my staff, particularly the younger ones, to think about what they’re doing with their wages. At the end of the day, it’s up to them, but if I can help inform some good habits I’d be excited for them to learn about investing sooner rather than later. They all have KiwiSaver, so it’s basically extracurricular to that—but learning a bit more might change the decisions they make about where their money goes. I have a pretty competitive team, so it’s great if we can all get behind it together.
What tips would you give to everyday New Zealanders who might not think investing is for them?
My best tip would be to simply give it a go. The hardest part is starting—everything else is fun, and you might learn a thing or two! Don’t leave your future up to someone else.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve given (or been given) about investing?
I’m not sure if it’s good advice yet, but invest consistently—and do it from a young age. Might have missed the boat on the second part, but today is better than never!