La Mode: Can we meet you?
Jane Michael: My name is Jane Michael Ekanem, a fashion entrepreneur; creative director of the fashion brand Jane Michael. I am an avid music enthusiast, I enjoy DIYs and adventure; I am an adrenaline junkie with a love for fast cars, power bikes and luxury.
La Mode: How did it all start for you as an entrepreneur?
Jane Michael: If I were to be honest with you, I’d say I didn’t really start out as a growing young girl wanting to be an entrepreneur; I just knew I wanted to make money and succeed. After secondary school, I took a short-term job at a phone service outlet or as people called it then, a business center. Then when I lost my dad, I had to take over his printing establishment for a while, and that started me on the idea of being a business person – Entrepreneur wasn’t such a famous word then. The printing establishment folded up eventually, so maybe I wasn’t that great at business at the time (laughs); but it did make me aware of my interest in business and amp my desire to succeed in life.
One thing I was sure about though was that I loved fashion, so I started a mobile boutique selling cufflinks and clothes to working class individuals and then began styling. I got my big break styling the female hosts and contestants on MTN Project Fame; and then I went on to style music videos, commercials, and more projects. Fast-forward few years later, I can happily add ‘Designer’ to my portfolio as well.
La Mode: Tell us about your brand?
Jane Michael: The Jane Michael Brand is an indigenous Nigerian fashion brand. We are a styling and design company with a capacity for unraveling fashion – related problems. We are a relatively new brand with reputation for the use of homegrown quality of materials and operate by a vision to outfit the fashionable woman who wants to contribute to the fashion conversation by what she wears.
La Mode: What motivated the addition of fashion designing in your profile?
Jane Michael: Fashion designing wasn’t simply an add-on, it was my main goal from the get-go as a fashion entrepreneur; but like any business it had to be in stages. My styling career was and always will be a blessing to me, it gave me the platform I needed to be able to launch my dream career as a designer. I have believed for so long that I am able to meet diverse fashion needs in ways that are different from every other brand, as all brands are uniquely different; and that was the motivation to begin my design brand.
La Mode: How do you see the Nigeria Fashion business in few years from now?
Jane Michael: The Nigerian fashion industry is blessed to have a slew of great designers who produce amazing designs; with stylists and models that show incredible talent and I believe it is only going to get better as the years go by. Nigerian designers are already dressing international figures, our fashion weeks are attracting international attention, so I’d say we are on a steady pace to greater success.
La Mode: What is your opinion about entrepreneurship?
Jane Michael: I am convinced entrepreneurship is a journey that can become the Centre point of a person’s life; depending on their goal. It is putting in the work to back the desire you have, going beyond the ordinary so what you believe you have to offer can benefit others, to your profit of course. I must also say that profit and satisfaction from entrepreneurship comes in different forms for different people.
La Mode: Who motivates you?
Jane Michael: My fear of failure and my dream of success. I always wanted to be successful growing up, and I am on my way so that keeps me going in addition to having people who look up to me and believe I won’t fail.
La Mode: What are your hobbies?
Jane Michael: Strategizing, riding bikes and fast cars, cooking and good music.
La Mode: Which local or international fashion magazine is your favorite?
Jane Michael: I love Harper’s Bazaar and Elle Magazines so very much. Sorry that’s more than one, there are so many to list.
La Mode: What is your advice for people who look up to you?
Jane Michael: Be sure about your very own dreams before you embark on it and do not think any path is easy simply because those you look up to make it seem so. Stay consistent and it will pay off in the long run.