Leaving a relatively comfortable and well-paid job onboard a Superyacht to pursue a small business idea isn’t for the faint-hearted. The founder of ‘Boujee Blooms and Styling‘, Jessica Droste knows this all too well. Jessica worked in the yachting industry for 4.5 years before the Covid pandemic influenced her to move back to her native Australia where she began setting up her floristry business. Now two years later, the business continues to be Jessica’s main project in her life after yachting.
Here, Jessica talks about the transferable skills she has gained from her time as a stewardess, how she is balancing various jobs in order to realise her business dreams, the good and bad sides of life after yachting and how her idea of success has changed over the years.
How long did you work as a crew? What was your role on board and which yachts did you work on?
I worked in the yachting industry for 4.5 years. I worked my way up to Chief Stewardess on vessels ranging from 28-35m, working alongside my partner Craig, a yacht Captain/Engineer. Most of the boats I worked on were either Med based or Florida based, and privately run.
When did you leave the Superyacht industry, and what were your reasons for leaving?
I left the Superyacht industry in Oct 2021. I left the industry due to covid and the restrictions my home country imposed. I hadn’t been back home to Aus for 2.5 years, and my sister was planning her wedding for November 2021. We knew how difficult it was to secure flights, and the time and money hotel quarantine would cost us, so we planned to come back to Aus and stay there, to start building a sustainable land-based life together.
Prior to leaving, did you plan an exit strategy for your life after yachting?
Initially, we moved back to my parent’s home and spent 2 months there whilst we planned all of this out.
I had planned to resume work as a Physiotherapist whilst undertaking my Certification III in floristry, and an interior design course, whilst my partner was hoping to get a job as yacht Captain on a similarly sized vessel to the one we had been on prior.
Most important lesson you learnt as a crew member that you now apply to day-to-day life on land?
I learned to be thick skinned, tolerant and adaptable. Mentally, Yachting isn’t an easy industry to be in due to the amount of work and the living environment. It’s also hard physically because of the long working days.
Being flexible and adaptable is also very important, as you quite literally have no control over your schedule day to day or month to month. For someone who usually plans their life schedule in advance, this is a tough pill to swallow.
Not to mention, I discovered that I became quite pedantic when it came to cleanliness which is something I have carried over into my life after yachting.
What is your current job role, and where are you based?
I am currently balancing a few different jobs at the moment.
I still work primarily as a Physiotherapist, but I am steadily continuing to build up and establish more of a presence with my own business ‘Boujee Blooms and Styling’. I am booking jobs and have work coming up, but there’s a long way to go still.
There is a lot that goes into setting up a small biz, so I’m hustling hard to do all of this and remain as patient as I can throughout the whole process.
Can you tell us more about Boujee Blooms and Styling and what you do on a day-to-day basis?
If I’m not creating bouquets or doing prep in the lead up to an event or wedding, I have my hands full (constantly) with admin work.
Daily tasks include: planning out content, editing and categorising photos, creating content from bouquets, auditing my webpage and giving feedback to the developer as she continues to work on it, writing blurbs for the website and email templates, responding to enquiries and creating quotes and invoices, shopping for and ordering more candles and vases inventory etc for events, the list goes on!
The good, the bad and the ugly parts of transitioning from yachts to shore? This can include the highs and lows of setting up your own business etc.
The good sides are, that we were able to get a dog and we adore her, having flexibility in my life and the freedom to choose the hours I work, saying yes to important social occasions, the joy of cooking in my own home and just chilling out in my space doing what I want, having the time to focus on me and what I feel passionate about.
As for the bad sides, being exposed to all of those day to day costs again was rough! When you work for so long in yachting, you can lose touch of how much things cost because you become so accustomed to having all of your expenses paid, or they just don’t exist. E.g. bills, car costs, health insurance, rent etc.
Also – I miss all the travel so much! It’s expensive to pay for your own flights, especially return flights anywhere overseas from Aus.
What is your hardest struggle since leaving the industry, and how did you overcome it?
My most difficult struggle has been balancing my physio job with a floristry and interior design course, plus all of the wedding planning, and now more predominantly, building a small business from the ground up.
I had become so used to working for someone else and working as a team alongside my partner, to now be navigating this all solo and doing it all for the sake of myself. It’s been a steep learning curve and quite a tumultuous journey to date. I’m proud of how far I’ve come, but there’s still a lot of work to do and it can be quite daunting.
You’ve really got to take the small wins when they happen and not let the setbacks get you down too much!
Did you have any other career options in the back of your mind when you were considering your life after yachting?
I knew when I moved back ashore after yachting that I would have my skill as a Physiotherapist in my back pocket. I’m lucky to have had this and always find work quite readily in this field. In saying that though, I’ve lost my passion for working in this field, which is why I’ve been pushing myself so hard to make the business work.
If you could return to the start of your yachting career, would you change anything? Ie, financial choices, ways you would have enhanced your cv, extra courses?
If I could return to the start of my yachting career – I would have made sure to save much more money. I would have planned out investments too, and perhaps stayed in it all a little longer than I did.
What kind of positive changes would you like to see in the industry?
I would like to see it more regulated. There is a lot of bullying, harassment and sexual abuse that goes on, yet it never gets brought to people’s attention like it should and I feel like more needs to be done about it.
There are also way too many yachts out there that are run by poor management, inadequate captains or toxic yacht owners that treat their crew poorly – arguably like slaves. There needs to be a better way to police things like this and prevent these situations from happening.
What does success mean to you and what is your career vision for the next 5 years?
I used to think that the ultimate success for me would be to become a super successful business owner that makes 6 figures every year. But recently my thinking has changed, I’m putting less emphasis on this and more on the bigger picture.
I want to create a family with my partner, and feel happy, settled, and financially secure too, but also in the way that we can enjoy life a bit more than we have been.
In terms of my career, I would like for Boujee Blooms and Styling to become successful and to do more events and weddings over the years to come.
Lastly, can you share 3 pieces of advice for crew members thinking about their life after yachting?
My biggest piece of advice – save up as much as you can! Also, if you’re planning on starting up a business, you should account for so much extra saved up for this as well. Lastly, get all of that traveling and champagne sipping out of your system as much as possible, as it becomes a whole lot more expensive when you’re living ashore again!
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