In conversation with Omega ambassador Jessica Ennis-Hill

We speak to Olympic champion turned entrepreneur Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill on being an Omega ambassador, her femtech start-up, Jennis, and the importance of female role models

By Joshua Hendren

In a sprawling Edwardian townhouse at the heart of London’s Mayfair, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill ponders Her Time. The pop-up exhibit, which has previously touched down in Paris, Milan, Madrid and Shanghai, is a celebration of Omega’s legacy and a homage to its storied history of women’s watchmaking.

Ennis-Hill, an ambassador of the luxury watchmaker since 2011, shares that she has always felt inspired by the pioneering spirit of the house and its dedication to female-led craft. Indeed, Ennis-Hill herself makes an effortless match for the Swiss brand, having inspired a generation as the poster girl of the 2012 London Olympics.

Now retired, she has turned her hand to improving awareness surrounding women’s health and training, drawing on her own experiences on the power of hormones through her start-up firm, Jennis, which she launched in 2019.

In conversation with Something About Rocks, the entrepreneur and three-times world champion heptathlete discusses the future of the Jennis brand, navigating the tech world and being part of the Omega family.

Jessica Ennis-Hill
Omega ambassador Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill

It’s lovely to meet you, Jessica. Tell me, what was the transition like moving from athletics to founding your own fitness app, Jennis, in 2019?

It was a really interesting transition. Retirement for me came just at the right time – it felt right after the Rio Olympics to finish that part of my life. Since then, I’ve slowly transitioned into this new period of women’s health and hormones.

It’s been such a fascinating journey learning more about the physiology of women, but also what it’s like for women in tech, what the tech world looks like and how you navigate yourself through that and build a brand. There have been lots of challenges along the way, but it’s been incredible to move into another field that I’m equally as passionate about.

What emotions drive your current work?

It’s very connected to what I did before, sport and exercise. The power of that for me is huge, whether you’re a professional athlete or just want to be fit and healthy. I think coupling that with women who want to learn more about their bodies and feel positive about the way they exercise and move in line with their hormones really drives me.

The space is such an important area that is often underfunded and lacks research. The more we speak about it and the more platforms we have to voice that area of femtech, the better it will be for more women.

Jessica Ennis-Hill
Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill visits Omega’s Her Time exhibition

Omega’s exhibition, Her Time, highlights women’s watchmaking throughout the brand’s history – how important are female role models?

I think they’re hugely important. Being a woman in sports, you realise how important it is to have those other female athletes who have gone on to achieve great things. It makes you feel that you can achieve the same sort of thing because they’re a woman in this space.

Now, having a daughter, I can see the huge impact that the great females around her will have on her and her future. Whether it’s brands like Omega or sports stars, for young girls coming into their careers, having that person to look up to and relate to is really important.

As an Omega ambassador, how do your values align with the Swiss watchmaker?

I’ve worked with Omega since 2011, and my life as an athlete has changed so much with retiring and having children. But, I think one thing I was very conscious about at that stage in my career was working with brands that really felt right to me and fit with my core values and who I am.

Just looking around the Her Time exhibition and understanding the changes the brand has been through, the absolutely stunning watches they’ve created, and having spoken to all the other ambassadors, it’s hugely inspiring to me.

It’s like a family.

I would definitely describe [Omega] as a family. I remember straight after the Olympics, we would all go to so many events together. It was that feeling of family, and everyone in my athletic team was welcome too. It’s a feeling of a whole as opposed to segmented parts.

Omega ambassador Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill

What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?

I’ve spent lots of time working with a sports psychologist throughout my career, and I still speak to him now. He talks a lot about how you enter situations and reframe them. It sounds quite obvious, but to step back and reframe your approach when you’re in the thick of something is really powerful. Whether I’m entering a new venture or trying something outside of my comfort zone, I’ll always take a step back and reframe the way I’m looking at it, so I can be sure it’s right.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I love working with brands like Omega and want to continue on that journey. With everything we’ve created with Jennis and the app, I want to grow that company further and make sure that we’re serving as many women as possible. My goal is to help women understand their bodies better and, to increase body literacy and help women feel positive about those key life stages that they find themselves passing through.

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