My Desk: Jessie Wong

Jessie Wong looking to camera.

Jessie Wong

Jessie Wong is the founder of Yu Mei, a luxury leather goods label based in Wellington with stockists and clients both in New Zealand and abroad. She has successfully built a brand renowned for its quality and luxury, while keeping the manufacturing local with her team supporting her along the way.

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Everyday items, productivity tips and a beautiful workspace come together in this regular feature where we chat to business owners and creatives about their work and the things they surround themselves with to help make good work happen.

Her humble and down-to-earth nature has helped earn Jessie a reputation as a talented leader and entrepreneur, and a respected member of the industry. Additionally Jessie has been involved with mentoring young New Zealanders through the Venture Up programme, sharing her knowledge with the next generation of leaders. We caught up with her between appointments to discuss her daily routine and tips for a productive workspace (HINT: caffeine).

What does a typical day look like for you?

I start my day one of two ways—up at the crack of dawn, gym/yoga (very wholesome), coffee, at my desk early; OR power walking (running) to work at five minutes to nine while simultaneously checking emails. After that, every day looks totally different which is what charmed me about the industry to begin with.

The nature of the industry is that you start a new collection every three to six months, so you're always on a different cycle, designing, prototyping, sourcing materials, shooting campaigns, hosting shows & sales appointments, production, logistics, accounts, dispatch, launching new products and collaborations.

We're constantly developing new ideas or figuring out the next place to take the company; as soon as we've got our head around one system or process it's onto the next.

You travel a lot for work—what is your must-have item when you are on the road?

I like being organised when I'm away. I always have my Yu Mei travel wallet which fits my passport, multiple currencies and SD cards. I’m also very into packing cells and portable power banks as they significantly reduce stress levels while travelling.

What's the most used item on your desk?

My iMac, followed by my phone and Moleskine yearly planner.

Top tips for a productive work environment?

Coffee, a great playlist, good vibes and Asana, which is our online workflow system.

What is your go-to lunch if you have to eat at your desk?

I don't eat at my desk often as we have a family-style sit down at 1pm around our big lunch table. Usually I’ll have something Ottolenghi that we've cooked at home the night before!

What is one thing you can't live without as a business owner?

Our amazing team. The Yu Mei crew make everything fun and know how to dig in when there is a lot of work to be done.

How do you take your coffee?

Coffee Supreme filter from our studio Moccamaster with a dash of whole milk.

1/ Jessie Wong, founder of luxury leather goods label Yu Mei

2/ Jessie’s bright and open workspace is part of the larger Yu Mei office, which includes their workshop, showroom and photography studio. All of their pieces are created on site by the tight-knit team

3/ One of Jessie’s personal Yu Mei bags from her daily rotation; ornaments and products on display; her favourite art piece painted by Alan Ibell, who she tracked down years after first seeing it at Sanderson Gallery; Yu Mei travel wallet

4/ The lunch table where the entire team eats lunch together every day. The dried floral arrangements were done by Rowan at Love Stomp floral

5/ Print by artist Vishmi Helaratne, “she was a friend from school and we traded a bag with her for the prints—which is how a lot of things were acquired for the Yu Mei studio”; the third most-used item on her desk is the yearly planner from Moleskine; Mischa Mini Bag in black; books double as an iMac stand

Need to know:
Yu Mei