Vivacious, spunky and inspiring Black American fashionpreneur, Charis Jones is the founder of Sassy Jones, a fashion boutique that uses African prints to make fashionable statement pieces. Her brand is creating jobs for over 30 families in United States, Ghana, Kenya and India. With her personality and these products, she is helping women across the world feel undeniably confident and transforming their lives with incredible beautiful fashion statement pieces.
In this week’s LLA Interview, Charis shares on embracing your quirks, being your own cheerleader and lessons from her journey into entrepreneurship. Enjoy!
Hi Charis, it’s lovely to meet you, Your name doesn’t sound so African, can you tell us whyand who Charis Jones is?
I’m the owner of Sassy Jones, an award winning accessory brand that specialises in helping women feel undeniably confident. I’ve been married for 8 years (coming up 10/30/18) and I’m the mother of 3-year-old twin boys, Jaxon and Julian. I left my job when I had the boys to pursue my dreams; they took off a little faster than I anticipated.
Did you ever think you would become a fashion entrepreneur?
Yes. I’ve always been a trendsetter at work or even when meeting my girlfriends for lunch. I’d walk into the office and everyone would anticipate what I wore or what handbag I was carrying. I remember in high school, I turned a straw wine bottle holder into a handbag and carried it for 2 weeks. Usually my max was 1 week for a handbag, but I loved this one. My English teacher, Mrs. Cross complimented me every day on it.
How has fashion changed the way you see the world? Tell us your story
Yes, I actually am drawn to well dressed people first. It sounds horrid, I know. But style is a way to express yourself without saying a word. Before anyone gets to learn how intelligent or well travelled you are, they look at how you present yourself to the world. My Grandmother never had a girl, I was her girl.
She raised me. She dressed me with the largest ruffled socks you could buy and the biggest ruffled dresses with the bow to match. My legs swung from the pew every Sunday morning, well dressed and well behaved. Poise and style have a very strong place in my life. I also remember that working in corporate America was so straining on my personal style. Since being an entrepreneur, I wear outrageous nail colours, dress up every single day, wear lashes and have since died my hair pink. My Grandmother recently called and expressed her strong opinion on how she didn’t approve and I told her, “These were the things I’ve always wanted to do, I just now get to do them.” It’s so liberating.
If you weren’t a fashion entrepreneur what would you be doing?
I’d be a sales person, solving people’s issues and making money from it. I’m not good at much else.
How do you define success and what does success mean to you?
Success means peace. No worries at night. None
You are a mother and a wife, how have you balanced your personal life, motherhood and your business?
Well I haven’t. I’m just recently learning to lay down the superwoman cape and delegate. It all doesn’t have to be done by me. I hired a house cleaner, my husband and I have a pick up schedule for the boys and he cleans the kitchen as well as cook. I could never do it all. One thing I have promised myself is that I will be present, regardless of where I am. If I’m with the boys, the phone is away. If my husband is talking, he has my full attention. It’s a work in progress. I don’t ever expect it to be perfect.
What are the challenges you have faced as a sales professional and how have you handled them?
The biggest challenge was the fear of being told “no”. I think that’s what helped develop that entrepreneurial muscle. I no longer fear rejection. I fear failure and not reaching my goals. The “No” is completely fine. I remember when I worked for a title loan agency, I was responsible for getting people to sign up. I literally waited in the parking lot of our competitors and stole their customers through conversation. I made them follow me in their car down the street to my establishment and I signed them up. I was always bold.
In your career, you have had to deal with different people, how have you managed working with them? I actually love working with a diverse team of people, my suppliers live in Johannesburg and Kenya. It’s interesting talking to them at all times of the day and night. I learn so much from them and their work ethic. We also strive to have diverse working environment. I believe people from different backgrounds have different things to offer.
Do you think a woman can have it all?
I do, I’m living proof. However, to whom much is given, much is required
What will you say is responsible for your success so far?
Being a student and remaining one. Being a “know it all” won’t get you far.
Can you tell us about some women that are mentor figures/major influences to you?
My Mother is actually a major influence, she had me at 16. I’ve always admired her tenacity to make amazing things happen. She gave me to my grandmother while she finished school and got on her feet. My Grandmother is also a strong figure, I watched her keep her family together despite major challenges. It shows me you can conquer anything that you set your mind to.
What are your next big plans/projects that would improve the fashion industry? Actually, I’ll be stepping into personal branding. Encouraging and educating women to build million dollar brands themselves.
What principles and values would you say has kept you going in life?
My mantra is “If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.” I live by that.
Are there instances in your career that you made decisions and wish you could have done them differently?
Yes, I need to improve on communication. Things are always in my head and I don’t communicate them well enough to my staff. I think people should automatically know things. It’s a flaw and I am working on it.
Kindly give a few words to young girls or women out there aspiring to be in your field? Go for it and trust yourself. Stop looking for approval from friends and family, you’ll never get it. Trust your gut.
The Leading Ladies Africa Series is a weekly interview series which focuses on women of African descent, showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes women empowerment and gender inclusion for women of African descent.
Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we just might feature her.