Jack Wills: What is TOPJAW and what else keeps you busy?
Jesse Burges: I started TOPJAW with my friend Will Warr, a very talented videographer with slender arms. We liken TOPJAW to a video version of TimeOut – instead of just a short write-up review, you can watch the whole experience and hear our opinions. It’s a long video list of our recommendations, usually on food and activities in London. I also run a property development company (Burgess Carruthers) and another business that provides a 360 interior design, architectural, project management service for clients (HOUSE91) – they give me the keys and I return a completely transformed property, like an IRL Changing Rooms.
JW: When did you first start working at Jack and what were your roles here?
JB: I started with Jack Wills when I was a fresh-faced 18-year-old (I’m now 25); I was the resident ‘presenter’ I guess. We toured around the UK filming parties and events in most of the Jack Wills towns. Jack Wills was actually my first major modeling campaign too! It was shot in Majorca and whilst we were out there the Icelandic ash cloud prevented us from flying back so we had to hire a tour bus and road trip through Europe to get back- it was as awesome as it sounds! We stopped off in Barcelona and then Paris for a couple of days – I couldn’t believe my luck.
JW: What is the one memory of Jack that you look back on most fondly?
JB: As part of our US Summer Tour we went to Martha’s Vineyard for a week and I don’t think I’ve ever been somewhere so idyllic in all my life. It’s an island off the coast of Cape Cod and it looks and feels like a film set. Everyone there is incredibly friendly and trusting of one another – there are bike racks filled with unlocked bikes for example. Every day and night the US Jack team had planned parties and activities for us such as bike rides down to the beach, house parties (with red cups, obviously) and digging for clams in the harbour (more fun than it sounds!) It’s where the President has his summer vacation, so I might avoid it for the next four years… but I can’t wait to return.
JW: How did your experiences at Jack help you to launch TOPJAW?
JB: It gave me my first introduction to presenting and subsequently I did a lot of it while at Jack Wills – I built up my confidence and learnt how to interview and create my own presenting-style (be as un-presenter-like as possible). I’d never considered presenting before and had no idea I’d be any good at it or would like it so much. I don’t think of myself as a presenter though – Will and I just make videos because we love film and attention. I’m in front of the camera and he’s behind but we’re still both integral parts of the production process.
JW: What gave you the inspiration to go it alone?
JB: Being told to always be somewhere at a certain time, work certain hours and have to request certain holiday breaks scares me far more than running my own operation so I suppose that is my constant inspiration.
JW: What has been the key to your successes?
JB: Ask me that question in 20-odd years please.
JW: What does being ‘entrepreneurial’ mean to you?
JB: That’s a funny term that people bound around very freely. I think people can be entrepreneurial whether or not they work for themselves; anyone who seizes opportunities or strives to make a better life for themsleves can be ‘entrepreneurial’. Also, be careful around anyone who refers to themselves as an ‘entrepreneur’…
JW: What would your advice be to people looking to start up their own business?
JB: Don’t be too afraid of risk but make sure you’re half decent at what you do and do your research. Most of the people I know who run their own businesses are often surprised at how well it’s going, but that’s often because they love what they do – that’s important. Surround yourself with other people who have also made the leap and talk to everyone you can; you never know who may be able to help you or provide your next step.
JW: What does the future hold for TOPJAW and your other ventures?
JB: Last year TOPJAW saw us fly to Singapore to film for The World’s 50 Best restaurants and drive a BMW M5 in the Gumball 3000 rally, so we’re hoping for another year like that! We have a lot of videos due to come out so subscribe to us on YouTube or Facebook to keep up to date.
Last year I designed and built Albert’s Club, a private members’ club in South Kensington – we have a similar project in the pipeline for this year, which I’m looking forward to/ am petrified of. We’re working on some really interesting residential sites too and will finally get our portfolio online soon too, so follow me on Instagram @jesse_burgess and I will post details of all this soon!