From modelling for the big fashion houses to promoting some of Australia’s best-known brands on TV, Jan Juc’s Sally Williams has now embarked on a new career in the name of love. ELISSA FRIDAY caught up with busy Sally at home on the Surf Coast.
After decades on TV promoting some of Australia’s biggest brands, all Sally Williams really wants is a “simple, quiet life”.
“I don’t need or want for a lot and I don’t like to over indulge,” the marketing star explains in the comfort of her Jan Juc home.
When she’s not fronting cameras as the national face of Brand Power, the mum of two enjoys the coastal lifestyle, walking the local beaches daily with Olly, her 13-year-old Staffy.
But now Sally’s meandered into a surprising new career course, adding the title ‘civil celebrant’ to her resume.
Serving as bridesmaid at a friend’s 1992 wedding in Palm Springs provided the initial inspiration for the new role, Sally says.
“I absolutely loved being involved in the occasion and the celebration,” she remembers.
“I loved it so much that years later I decided to begin training as a celebrant at The Gordon.”
Now she has a Certificate IV as a Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrant.
“I researched broadly which course to do and discovered that this one was one of the best in the state for people who wanted to do celebrant work interstate,” Sally says.
The course of almost eight months equipped her with knowledge to prepare and deliver all aspects of a wedding ceremony.
“A lot of attention was placed on the legalities, content and communication, including writing, preparing and presenting six case studies,” Sally explains.
Now she’s putting in practice her new skills, which extend beyond weddings to conducting funerals and other significant occasions.
“I do vow renewals and baby-naming days too,” she says.
Sally and her then-young family moved to Bells Beach from Melbourne around 15 years ago when twins Jake and Angelica were five.
But the family home was sold five years ago when life “went in an unexpected direction”, Sally says.
“Our marriage came to an end which was very sad,” she reflects.
“It was tough for the kids, it was tough.
“I’m not ashamed of it at all. We did the right thing and it’s a good thing in some ways.
“I don’t think people expected me to go into celebrant work after that but it didn’t change me one bit. I’m a total believer in love and marriage – the important part is focusing on it being right.”
Sally’s extends this focus to the contentious issue of gay marriage, declaring herself willing to conduct same-sex weddings.
“Love is love and all love needs to be celebrated,” she says.
“Two people who are in love and who want to unite in wedlock, who are we to deprive them of that?”
Sally makes a pretty face conducting weddings but admits that some friends “couldn’t believe” she would choose to also work on funerals.
“I think it’s a privilege to celebrate someone’s life, just as it’s a privilege for me to be of service in the most important day of two people’s lives.
“I’ll always do both weddings and funerals.”
Sally traces the start of her 22 years as the face of Brand Power back to her late teens when she kick-started her career modelling for the likes of Portmans, David Jones and Myer.
“I really wanted to travel, so modelling was a way for me to do that, I got to travel and work,” Sally tells.
“I modelled in Germany and Japan, then went to Spain and then back to Japan.”
Sally’s eight years of modelling included a stint as the face of Ford Australia in the late ’80s.
“I was the first ever woman to be the face of Ford,” she says proudly.
“That’s how Brand Power found me to be their presenter, from seeing me as the face of Ford.
“But there was obviously a bit of a conflict of interest, so I had to make a call. I said ‘no more’ to Ford and went with Brand Power because I believed in how they advertised.”
Sally briefly parted company with the company around eight years ago for a job as a Channel 7 presenter but resumed her role as the face of Brand Power three years back.
“Coming back to Brand Power was like coming home really – we’re joined at the hip,” she laughs.
Sally hopes her celebrant role “grows organically” in the same was as her work for Brand Power did over the years.
“I connect and communicate with people and that’s what I do,” she says.
Along with her two jobs, Sally is also an ambassador for Smiling Minds, a not-for-profit online meditation service.
“It’s about mindfulness, self-awareness and understanding who you are at the moment,” she explains.
Sally also describes herself as “conscious” of the environment, which she attributes to her father’s passion for fishing.
“He would talk about lines caught around fish,” she says.
“He has a real respect for nature and he instilled that in me.”
Sally’s particularly concerned with stopping the use of plastic bags, which she blames for killing sea life.
“It starts with the individual, so I made a decision to stop using plastic bags,” she declares.
“I’m an animal lover and I’d like to help people become more conscious about what they do.”
Sally says she already helps shoppers “buy better”, so now she wants to use her profile to encourage people to “bag better” through the use of re-useable bags.
“I don’t want people to feel guilty or as though I’m judging them in any way because that was me, using plastic bags, six months ago,” she explains.
“I love life – it’s my turn to give back.”