Jennifer James: Fashion is More Passion than Profit

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Founder of JENOS, Jennifer James and a friend, Muma Gee

Jennifer James is the CEO and Founder of JENOS Boutique. She discusses the business of dressing people with Ojo Maduekwe

Fashion retail is a profit driven business, but, for many in the business of dressing others, such as Jennifer James, it starts out as a passion.

“I would say passion made me do it. I have a BSc but I have never worked with it. So yes for me fashion is more than profit,” Mrs. James said.

James is the CEO and founder of JENOS Boutique, a walk-in fashion retail store that specialises in the trading of female clothings for those she refers to as “the young, and the old and funky at heart”.

Recently, during the launch of her boutique located in Ikeja, she opened up to this reporter about how her love for fashion and the business of it all started, tracing its origin to when she was only a teenager helping out her mother run her own fashion retail business in the same Ikeja.

“After my university education, I was working with my mother. Even in secondary school I used to go seat at her friend’s shop on Allen. When my mother opened her own boutique, I was always with her. So fashion is what I’ve been doing from my teenage years till this day.”

It appeared Ikeja had always had a pull on her. Asked why she chose to open business in this location, she said, “Location was a very important factor for me when I was planning to set up the JENOS boutique. This is because no matter how good your products are, if you don’t have a good location, you won’t attract the proper clientele.”

Like most kids trying to find their way in a complex world where divergent careers and passions are constantly seeking one’s attention, it was always fashion for James. Thinking that after her secondary education she would proceed to read law at the university, but as fate would have it, fashion found her in her mother’s boutique.

“Before I completed my secondary education, I had wanted to become a lawyer, but by the time I began seating with my mother and her friends doing the fashion business, I fell in love with the business.”

Now even though she’s running a business in the literal sense of the word, it all still boils down to passion for her.

“I love seeing nice clothes and women in beautiful clothings”, she would say, her face bright and animated.

A look at the dresses in her boutique reveals a woman who knows exactly how she pictures her clients looking. Even though she doesn’t design (at least not yet), she takes her time to sort for finished products.

“When I shop, I know what I want. Before I go for shopping, I already have a mental picture of the kinds of clothings I will be looking for.”

Currently she stocks foreign brands, but hopes to support home grown and made in Nigeria brands in the nearest future. She says she finds this support to be “very important” and already has a clear picture of what she intends to stock.

“When I start shopping for local brands, I would want to go strictly into skirts. I found out that most times when skirts are sewn here, they usually don’t get the accurate measurement for the hip. This I would like to fix.”

There are also plans to branch out, and have a men’s store that would include clothes for boys too. She said she noticed a shortage of boutiques that sell quality product for this segment of the market.

Of course there are men boutiques all over Lagos, but she says when it comes to quality menswear, no one would be able to compete with JENOS. “We will stock the best like we do now”, she said.