“Fail early, Fail often, Fail forward” #LLA Meets, Jennifer & Jessica Danjuma, Founders & Creative Directors – MARYMAII

Jessica and Jennifer Danjuma are the Creative Directors of a Ready to Wear Fashion Brand called MARYMAII. Founded in 2017, MARYMAII is a Premium made in Nigeria Ready to Wear Fashion Brand, created for the strong, sophisticated and stylish woman. As strong willed entrepreneurs, these duo are passionate about creating clothes that showcase the different layers of femininity.

Can you briefly describe yourself and your business?

Marymaii is a premium ready to wear brand that is created for the strong, Sophisticated, successful & stylish woman. We have a Background in Law but we launched MARYMAII in 2017 after seeing a gap in the Ready to Wear Sector.

Can you share what inspired you to go into this particular business?

We saw a gap in the Ready to wear sector for quality occasional work wear for the multi dimensional Nigerian woman. We wanted to create quality & stylish pieces for the modern Nigerian woman.

When you launched your business, did you have prior knowledge on how you could run one? How did you make it work?

We’ve always had a passion for fashion & style & we explored that further with our fashion degree from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. In terms of entrepreneurship, we had no prior experience, we simply learnt along the way and also from real life experiences. We do a lot of research, read a lot of books, listen to podcasts, and attend business seminars frequently. We feel it’s very important as an entrepreneur to constantly educate yourself & would advice others with no experience to fail early, fail often, fail forward.

Why entrepreneurship and what’s the biggest misconception about entrepreneurship that you’ve heard?

Misconceptions: That entrepreneurship is glamorous, it’s not! It’s hard work and in the beginning you will do a lot of the difficult work until you can hire assistance. Another misconception is that ’the money the business makes is all yours’, it is not. The profit made should be put back into the business to grow it. You should be constantly reinvesting back into the business.

What innovation have you introduced to your business recently and how has that worked out ?

 We recently set up a Whatsapp integration on our website: www.marymaii.com which allows customers to send queries & personal shopping requests from any part of the world & get an immediate response. Customers love the interaction. Our goal is to keep innovating online as we feel online shopping is the future.

As an entrepreneur, you must have encountered different kinds of people, what have you learned the most and what will you say has been the highlight of your journey so far?

We have learned that no matter what, remain professional. Train your staff to be professional no matter the circumstance. Customer service is key.

What will you say is responsible for your success?

Consistency, continuous learning & evolving. We are always challenging ourselves to grow and evolve, so we consume a lot of business & marketing content. We constantly educate ourselves and invest time to learn and be inspired.

In your opinion, would you say that there are any unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced, and what’s kept you going?

A big challenge female entrepreneurs face is mostly being underestimated. Sometimes as an employer, you can easily be assumed as the ‘employee’ just because you are a woman. We would advice that you ignore it, as these are distractions from your goals. Focus and remember the bigger picture of what you are trying to accomplish.

What’s your five-year plan for your business?

Expansions: To setup MARYMAII franchise stores within Nigeria & across Africa (particularly, Kenya, Ghana & South Africa.)

Can you share some strategic tips for upcoming female entrepreneurs to be successful in this path?

Never stop learning, ‘the day you stop learning, your business starts dying’. You have to invest in knowledge constantly.

The LLA Lady Boss Series is a weekly interview series that highlights the achievements and entrepreneurial journeys of African female entrepreneurs. The idea is to showcase the Leading Ladies who are transforming Africa and the African narrative through enterprise and business.

It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes leadership, inclusion and diversity for women of African descent.

If you know any kick-ass women of African Descent doing phenomenal things in enterprise, email lead@leadingladiesafrica.organd she could possibly be featured.

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