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Meet Jessica (Pink Ninja) Hetzer of HugWear in Carlsbad

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica (Pink Ninja) Hetzer.

Jessica, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I believe that hugs can change the world. Ten years ago a huge changed my life, and that’s where my self-discovery story begins… At 23 I felt confused and alone. In the depths of an unhappy relationship with my mind and very unhealthy relationship with my body, my little brother wrapped me in his arms. Though he’d hugged me before, this time felt different. My entire being surrendered.

Vulnerably open, my soul remembered. Without words, I heard, “I am loved. I am enough. I am connected.” With that embrace, my mind’s story shifted. I chose that Life was worth it – I was worth it – and decided to dedicate my life to be living proof that Hugs can change the world.

My brother’s hug lit a spark in my heart and gradually my purpose crystallized. I am here to Create Connection – through my work, relationships and how I show up to play with Life. First, I had to connect to the reflection I saw with every glance in the mirror… Me.

I followed my heart to yoga teacher training. With no intention of actually teaching, I wanted to explore my inner truth and expand my personal practice. However, through the nine weeks, I discovered that teaching yoga was teaching connection – first with oneself, then with all.

Slowly I started to teach and affirm my purpose by opening every class with Hugasana, or Hug Pose, to create a space of intentional connection, openness and presence right from the start. As a yoga teacher I felt alive and connected but with a full-time corporate job my ability to teach felt limited, as did my ability to share hugs with the world.

Then, three years ago my heart-spark reignited… On CNN I saw the aftermath of a shooting just north of where I work. As tears of sadness, anger, and confusion flowed from my eyes, my soul asked, “If that person had shared one good hug that day, would I be watching this?” Loud and clear I heard, “No.”

My intense emotions settled into peaceful and passionate inspiration. That night, HugWear – Connection Through Clothing – was born. I cut sleeves off an old shirt and adhered them to the back of a sweatshirt. The ‘hug sleeves’ served as a guide for sharing a heart-to-heart hug. On the front, in the glow-in-the-dark puffy paint, I wrote ‘Give Hugasana’.

The idea was overwhelmingly embraced – literally and figuratively. My heart encouraged my hands to work and in about a year I hand-made and gifted over 70 ‘hug shirts’. In 2017, thanks to encouragement from friends and family I decided to scale my purpose and invest in ethically-produced local manufacturing. HugWear, designed to create a connection through clothing, was born.

As my story continues to unfold, I discover how much there is to discover. Momently I feel more grateful for the opportunity to live my purpose connect with the world around me, and share hugs – the free and priceless gift that can (and will) change the world!

Has it been a smooth road?
What a great question! When I tune in and reflect, everything, – experience, interaction and decision – whether perceived good or bad at the moment, served a purpose and held a lesson. Without them, I would not be right here, right now. That said, I acknowledge the bumps, potholes and sudden detours I’ve faced along the road. And take full responsibility for each one.

When my mind’s habit loop of ‘not enoughness’ runs the show roadblocks arise. I’m not smart enough, brave enough, pretty enough, skinny enough. There is not enough interest, not enough money, not enough time… This mindset results in decision-paralysis, self-doubt and criticism, and can be a tough space to get out of.

Gratefully, the more I turn to yoga, meditation, and hugs, the easier it becomes to shift my perspective, return to inspiration and move forward with a smile!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with HugWear – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
HugWear is a clothing line designed to create connection and invite hugs into the world.

What began as shirts with cut-off sleeves and glow-in-the-dark puffy paint has evolved to locally-sourced zip-up hoodies, sweatshirts, v-necks, tanks, baseball shirts, kid’s tees, baby onesies and even dog wear, printed in glow ink and hand-stitched with glowing thread!

Bright colors, stylish cuts, and glow-in-the-dark accents make HugWear a conversation starter, as well as an invitation to hug. HugWear is made in the USA with super-soft and cozy fabrics that feel like a constant embrace.

A glow-embroidered heart patch stitched to the chest of each shirt reminds wearers that their heart glows – even in the dark. On the back, ‘hug arms’ printed in glow ink (my own hugging arms digitized!) welcome hugs and create a connection.

As a new business owner, it lights my heart to see people wearing HugWear and sharing hugs. However, the greatest satisfaction for me comes through witnessing the transformation HugWear can bring to an individual’s life, and by extension the lives of everyone they hug!

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
As a native of Wisconsin, I can’t deny that I love San Diego weather! I love seeing the sun (almost) every day and having the ability to squiggle my toes in the sand and massage Mother Earth any time I need.

Aside from the weather, I’ve always believed that it’s not where you are, but who you’re with, that truly matters. I also believe that our outer world is a reflection of our inner landscape and am truly grateful for the opportunities San Diego continues to present to discover the beauty and wonder within and everywhere I look.

On the flip side, blistering my feet from hot sand is less than ideal.


  • HugWear zip-up hoodies and sweatshirts – $70 each (use PINK70)
  • HugWear tees and crops – $33 each
  • HugWear kid’s tees and baby onesies – $23 each

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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