Women in Yachting – Part 32: Jill Zwaans, YACHT STORY

Read more about Jill Zwaans, founder and charter director of YACHT STORY, how she got started, and stays inspired.

As the yachting industry continues to grow, more and more women are making a significant impact on this traditionally male-dominated space. Here, YATCO takes the time to get to know some of these women – from all areas of the market – and highlight the important work that they contribute to the industry.

Jill Zwaans is the Founder and Charter Director of YACHT STORY.

What drew you to the yachting world?  

As a child my own holidays were mostly spent on sailing yachts and my whole family is very “yachting” minded. After achieving my Maritime Master at university and with some relatives already active in the yachting business, the choice for me was pretty straight forward to go the same way and follow in the footsteps of my grandfather. 

How did you get your start in yachting? 

While I was still studying, I did my internship at Edmiston & Company.

During the Monaco Yacht Show I met a director of a shipyard in Australia who directly offered me a job as Sales and Marketing Assistant from the moment I graduated. This was the start of my career and being responsible for Europe and the USA where I certainly met a lot of people and learned a lot.

I got more attracted to the charter part of the industry after organizing some trips for my good clients and noticed this was certainly my cup of tea. 

Who are some influential people in your life that you look up to? 

For sure my grandfather, who built his own yacht together with Carlo Riva and even though he had 38 grandchildren we had a special connection through our love of yachts. My husband, who is a true entrepreneur, is my rock and always guides me in the right direction. He convinced me to start YACHT STORY and helped me along the way. But I also really admire some of my good clients who are a bundle of inspiration to me. 

What are some challenges you face and how do you overcome them? 

I think the most challenging part was the start-up of YACHT STORY in the middle of COVID-19 and uncertain times in the world. At the same time, my twins were only three years old and needed my attention as well, but a lot of my time went to the new company and my clients who are also so valuable to me.

It’s always a challenge to find balance between family and business life and especially with yachts, nothing goes as planned so there is a thin line in between the two. 

What advice would you give someone who is starting in the yachting industry? 

I strongly believe that a passion for yachting will help us to understand the business and the extraordinary requests some of the clients have.

If you are passionate about the job and you love what you are doing, it becomes a way of life, resulting in being always available and finding good solutions with a smile. 

What is the most rewarding/enjoyable element of your job? 

When you make all your efforts to organize a yacht holiday for clients and they send excellent feedback! 

What is your favorite thing about working in the yacht market? 

We get a chance to be around the most inspiring people, the most attractive luxury products, the most beautiful destinations, the best quality food, the most innovative projects, but remain with our feet on the ground

What are you currently working on and what keeps you motivated? 

We are currently working on a new destination for one of our yachts who always loves to go to “off the beaten track” destinations. I love to find such locations and see what else is there to explore by yacht.  

What keeps me motivated is the variation of the job but for sure my great team behind YACHT STORY where all noses are pointed in the same direction and everyone is looking for opportunities for YACHT STORY to grow, maintain, develop, improve, innovate, and exceed. 

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