Name: Jess Page
Where are you from?
Originally from Massachusetts, spent about 10 years in Miami, and currently living in Chicago.
What industry are you in and what do you do?
Co-founder and Chief Brand Officer for Open Water.
Have you seen being a female founder change at all over time? Easier now than at the beginning?
I think there’s more awareness of the rarity of women founders now than there used to be. I think there’s still a ton of work to do to correct for the biases women face…but we’re making progress!
As a woman, what was the biggest challenge you endured during the beginning of your career?
Women are often taught, either directly or indirectly, to be accommodating and to make room for others—to be “polite”. As a founder, it was a huge personal challenge to step into a leadership role with confidence. Time, experience, and age have helped, but it’s still something I think about all the time.
What would you like to see change for women across the world?
The freedom to be confident and assertive without being labeled negatively.
Tell us about your journey with Open Water.
The idea for to create the planet’s most sustainable packaged water came about over a decade ago when Nicole (co-founder) and I were still in college. We saw a documentary on campus about plastic pollution that entirely jump started our work on launching Open Water. In the beginning, Nicole and I used to pack up her hatchback with cases of water every morning and go around Chicago sharing our story and hoping to convince cafés and restaurants that they should swap out their plastic and cartons for canned Open Water instead. We’ve come a long way since then—the momentum against plastic pollution is strong (cities and states are even banning the sale of plastic bottled water!) and Open Water is on target to eliminate the need for 1 billion plastic bottles by 2025, which is absolutely incredible!
What excites you most about your day-to-day in your job?
Starting a company is hard work! The thing that keeps me going is believing wholeheartedly in the mission and knowing that our work is having a meaningful, positive impact on the planet.
What are you most passionate about outside of work?
During the pandemic, I got really into cycling and mountain biking. It’s the perfect solo or group activity and after exploring my own area (and realizing how scary the streets can be for bikers), it’s made me a huge advocate for more cycle friendly city planning.
Favorite place you have been in the world?
Holbox. It’s a tiny, car-free island off the north coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. To get there, you take a 2 hour car ride and a 30 minute ferry. It’s peaceful and totally relaxing.
Where will you get on a plane to next?
I’m not sure about it being any time soon, but a bike trip through Isle of Man is on my “eventually” list.
Anything last min you want to share with our guests as an ARLOcal??
Drink tap water whenever you can 🙂