LLA 10 Questions with the #LadyBoss Jane Michael Ekanem – “I am more than a stylist. I am a business woman.”
Jane Michael is not one to be limited to a box. Starting out her journey in fashion as a stylist, Jane has been able to build a thriving business as a fashion entrepreneur. She is driven by her passion and as you read our interview with her, you will discover how she has been able to distinguish herself in the fashion industry.
1. Can you briefly describe yourself and your business?
My name is Jane Michael Ekanem. I am a fashion entrepreneur. I come from a small family of three of which I am the last. My business is relatively about fashion from style to branding and manufacturing.
2. What is it like being a female entrepreneur, and why did you chose this path?
Being a female entrepreneur is like being the head of a family. It is quite tasking. An entrepreneur as we all know bears the risks that come in different forms like finding a way to satisfy and manage your clients while maximizing profit as well as expanding the business. I chose the fashion business because of my love for fashion and combined with the risks as an entrepreneur, they spur me even further to succeed.
3. What new innovation have you introduced to your business?
In business I have striven to create new ways to get the best out of my creative resources, and right now what I have introduced into my business is designing for my clients. Although sometimes I do not make the actual clothes, I enjoy seeing my clients wearing my designs, designs that haven’t made their rounds yet in the industry. So I make an effort, go the extra mile to make sure the designs are new.
4. What will you say is responsible for your success so far?
As much as this sounds spiritual, I would say God’s favour and also the ability to be patient with clients. I have had to learn that on the job because in my service to people, a lot of interactions come into play so I have learned to take everything in stride and remember the goal of satisfying the client. That comes with a lot of patience.
5. Are there any unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face generally?
I do not think there are different kinds of challenges female entrepreneurs and their male counterparts face differently. Being an entrepreneur comes with equal challenges of trying to be on top of your game, not letting your subordinates down as well as the people who look up to you. We all know the state of the economy and how resource acquisition and profit making is difficult and that is stressful for any business right now. These challenges cut across all businesses regardless of who owns or runs it.
6. What values and principles have helped you so far?
The values and principles that have been my guide include refusing to compromise quality, making my clients priority sometimes even to a fault and then making sure we are both happy. I try not to mix friendship with business as this could affect business. A major principle is to have a happy client at the end of a job and of course my reward which is to smile to the bank has helped me uphold these.
7. Why did you decide to go into this particular line of business?
I decided on fashion because of the passion I have for style and fashion. I have always known from back in secondary school that I was going to be an entrepreneur but I just didn’t know then what path I was going to take. I had tried my hands at different things, one as a printer which I learnt from my dad and when he passed, I tried to manage the business but I was too young to do that and it crashed. Then I was a dance instructor for about 6 months, but I had to quit not for a lack of passion but because I wasn’t patient enough to build a proper structure. In those 6 months I had only 2 jobs, and survival instinct required I ask myself questions. How was I going to move from one stage to another in business and in life when I barely made money? So I reverted back to my love for fashion and that is how I got into styling.
8. What keeps you going when the odds are against you?
When the odds are going against me, I take a moment to think about where I am coming from, where I am going to, my experiences with previous jobs and then I say to myself ‘this too shall pass’. The passion for fashion as well as the fact that I have my eyes on the ball keeps me going against it all.
9. What’s your five-year plan for your business?
In five years I hope to have built a household brand in fashion with my designs and collections. I want to make my pieces accessible and affordable too within reason of course. I am more than a stylist, I am a business woman and as one I expect to delve into other facets of business, fashion and otherwise.
10. What do upcoming female entrepreneurs need to do to be successful in this path?
One major necessity for success is patience in any kind of business. Things do not always pan out at the beginning but if they are passionate about their chosen line of business and keep at it, they would be able to make so much more out of it than they think. The tides always change in business, sometimes in your favour and other times not; but there is always a way out and nobody should forget God. He makes everything beautiful in His time.