YouTube star and top Sheffield horse rider Jessica Rose Williams on living life with a purpose
She’s a YouTube star, writes a blog with thousands of followers and has qualified for the Horse of the Year Show.
Impressive but more significant for Sheffield-born Jessica Rose Williams is that she lives a life with purpose.
This is her mantra. It is what she blogs about and what draws in the staggering numbers for her YouTube videos.
She’s also hugely influenced by her mum and that’s where the equine skills come in.
So how did Jessica get such a diverse skill set? It’s a journey which has had challenges.
Now 33, she was born in Gleadless Valley and went to school at Mundella Primary in Norton Lees and St Mary’s High in Chesterfield.
She then did a business management degree at Sheffield University. So far, so good.
But while being a good student, Jessica was an excellent horse rider, something which started aged four.
“I’ve been riding so long I can’t remember the first time I sat on a horse. It is just like walking to me.” says Jessica.
She competed aged four in local shows across Yorkshire and Derbyshire, mainly at the Hallamshire Riding Society behind the Dore Moor Inn in Dore before working up to county level.
“I started going to the Hallamshire with my mum, grandad and sister. My mum had her own pony so I had an advantage and I had my own pony by the age of seven because I was show jumping by then.
“I started doing shows and got too good for local ones so moved to county level.”
Jessica now shows a horse, a discipline which has two sections called way of going and conformation.
Way of going is where the horse gives the appearance of being light in the hand and moving over the ground with ease. Conformation is the bone structure, how the horse is put together.
She’s so good, she has qualified for the Horse of the Year show. This year it is in Birmingham in October.
Horse riding costs money, but this isn’t the story of a little rich girl. Mum Gill was a nurse who worked extra shifts to fund the riding.
“Mum and I are a team of two and it’s a huge achievement to qualify,” says Jessica. It’s the fourth time she’s qualified for the show, so she and mum are some team.
Gill is a superstar in her own right, having worked in the Sheffield Hospital Teaching Trust for 40 years at the Northern General and the Hallamshire. She was enjoying retirement when Covid struck, but went back into intensive care and then to help at the vaccination centre at the Arena.
“She’s a hero,” says Jessica. “She worked two jobs so I could afford ponies, intensive care shifts and then one night a week at the Thornberry. We were a one parent family and mum worked really hard for me.
“She’s inspiring and the horse show is an adventure for us, we are really close.”
When she left university, Jessica had no clear idea of what she wanted to do so followed her mum into the NHS.
“I went to work in human resources at the Children’s Hospital and did that for five years when, at 25, I found out I had cervical cancer and it completely changed my perspective on life.
“I decided to follow my creative dreams and start writing a blog using my own photographs.
“It was all self-taught, I’ll try anything.
“The diagnosis was devastating and I suffered a lot of anxiety.
“A life with less came out of the diagnosis because I made a promise that I would no longer lead a life that I would regret. I wanted a life that was more meaningful.
“I started getting rid of things that didn’t add value or bring joy, or fulfil me.
“I started living a curated lifestyle, one that is intentional, try not to live out of habit, I like it to be meaningful and have purpose.
“Most people are run by routine, by conformism. I try and opt out of that where I can and live a life to my own values even if they are not what everyone holds in high regard.
“It isn’t easy but I wouldn’t have it any other way. People who I was friends with but not great friends have fallen away and I’m now surrounded by people of a similar mindset, that is living a more simple and intentional life.”
She now lives in a Peak District village near Bakewell and is a lifestyle blogger. Her website https://www.jessicarosewilliams.com/ has a huge following.
“It’s about living the life you want to live instead of living the life you should live. I know my audience because I speak to people on a regular basis and 30,000 a month are looking at the blog.”
She also has a You Tube channel, which regularly features her wardrobe. “It’s the same theme, living the life you want to. My wardrobes have my personal style, not clutter. Having few possessions that you love and wear on repeat is more sustainable.”
Her videos can get hundreds of thousands of views. One called A Minimalist Cottage Home Tour drew 341,000 views.
Being a YouTuber can be an industry on its own but does have the drawback of trolls.
“I’m used to trolls. Keyboard warriors are alive and well and trying to draw people down. Whatever they say, it says more about them than me.
“Essentially, the internet can be a very beautiful place where you can connect with like minded people that you simply never came across. Once upon a time you only came into contact with those people in your geography, we are still figuring it out, finding our waybut there is a lot of positivity.
“I’m making a living out of it. When trolls pop their head up, I overcome that by thinking of the people I’m creating for - I’m definitely out for them. People who support me get me through so I can show my face.
“As my following grew, the blog got publicity and people started reaching out to me. I got noticed because the blog was honest.”
Being noticed got her work with Cosmopolitan, 91 Magazine, Forbes, Refinery 29, Project Calm magazine and Psychologies.
“I write features on simple living, minimalism, interiors, self-care, capsule wardrobes, creativity, books and slow travel,” she says.
“I share personal stories on living a simpler life in my occasional newsletter fittingly named the simple letter. I have also written a series of ebooks designed to help you figure out what a year round capsule wardrobe and a simplified home looks and feels like for you.”
They all have one thing in common. “The first rule is to write what’s true and I think people respect that, they find it relatable. I tend to be quite vulnerable in my writing, I share personal information which makes it relatable,” she adds.
That has included her marriage break-up after she wed at 22. The wedding pictures look perfect but the day was not all that it seemed. Ten years later, Jessica wrote about it on the blog.
“J and I are secure enough to look back and laugh at how over the top our wedding feels now and both of us freely admit it wasn’t the happiest day of our lives. This doesn’t mean we were unhappy, it just means we didn’t do it right for us.”
Honest and reflective. Philosophical. It’s how she is.
Jessica says: “We are in a time where everything we have in the West is so lucky, so privileged, but the mental health problems show we haven’t got our values right. We should have figured out anxiety, depression, suicide, but figures show we arte facing a major challenge.
“People are looking for something different to mainstream life, people want to make their own decisions.
“They are open to maybe a different kind of lifestyle. The blog has my thoughts, feelings, experiences and lessons learned. If people are interested, great. I’m an independent woman doing it by myself.”
Her message to Star readers is this. “Is there a void buried inside you that you’re constantly trying to fill? You’re not alone.
"Perhaps this lacking so many of us feel is connected with wounds of our past, a result of the people we surround ourselves with now or is a result of society constantly telling us we’re not good enough as we are.
"To combat these voids we exhaust ourselves striving for more, filling our lives with meaningless things we don’t need or even really want because we think it will make us feel like a better version of ourselves, a more successful acceptable version.
"We lose ourselves to people pleasing for external validation and end up living the life we think we should instead of the life we really want. What if there’s an alternative? A simpler, more intuitive life lived from a place of not only having enough but being enough, just as we are.
"How might that look and feel for you? Surely this is the richer journey.”
Jessica’s next ebook is out in January and is called Enough, published by Watkins. Follow her blog at jessicarosewilliams.com