Jess Kavanagh

Jess Kavanagh of Olann. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Jess Kavanagh is the woman in charge behind Olann which she set up in 2017 to create a range of sophisticated coloured yarns from ethically sourced materials. With a background in fashion and textile design, she has always been interested in handmade, meticulously crafted and well-made products. Jess is a mother, a dyer and a (very slow) knitter. Her love of colour has always been a driving force behind her works. Inspired by art, nature, cityscapes, and her imagination, Jess creates gorgeous colours for fellow knitters and all round crafters to knit and play with.


What do you think is the difference between management and leadership?

With leadership, we need to inspire and energise people, to have a vision and share it with everyone involved. Empowering all members of the team to challenge them to think beyond what already exists. In essence, leading is to challenge, enhance and create new and exciting innovative ideas. On the other hand, management is the ability to organise the tasks involved in work and coordinate all the members accordingly.

The world around us is changing faster than at any time in human history and we need more leaders to emerge. How do we make this happen?

We need to empower the youth of today. Everyone has the ability to act as a change agent. We also need to develop people holistically – instil the belief that motivation, perseverance and the willingness to embrace failure are all key strategies to effective leadership.

What is the one mistake you witness leaders making more frequently than others?

The ability to take constructive feedback onboard. It is this feedback that should re-energise leaders to challenge and reflect on their leadership.

What are you doing today to make sure your organisation will be relevant in 10 years time?

Using constructive feedback to constantly reflect on my current practices and develop strategies to continually improve in all aspects of what I do. I believe that this will make sure I am relevant in 10 years time and beyond.

What are a few resources (books, blogs, podcasts, courses etc) you would recommend to someone looking to gain insight into becoming a better leader?

“7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – Dr Steven Covey

“Leading in a Culture of Change” – Michael Fullan

“Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action” – Simon Sinek

“Leaders Eat Last” – Simon Sinek