Owner and Creative Director at Elizabeth Waldorf, Jane Ole founded her company to create timeless designs for African women who appreciate luxury, elegance, and style. The AWP Network met with Jane to learn more about how she got started and her plans for growing the company.
How did you come up with the name of your business?
My sister inspired the name of the company. Her name is Elizabeth and it means ‘God’s promise.’ Waldorf on the other hand, is a German name and it means ‘a village in the woods.’ To me however, it means ‘fruitfulness and prosperity.’ Together, Elizabeth Waldorf means “God’s promise for prosperity.”
What inspired you to start this business?
I have been designing since I was a teenager and I can say that it’s my passion. One day I thought to myself, why not create a business out of this? Creating and designing gives me the most sense of accomplishment, I cannot imagine doing anything else – I love designing beautiful clothes for women.
Who is your target market?
The Elizabeth Waldorf brand attracts women who appreciate luxury, elegance, and style. We create timeless designs and pay careful attention to detail.
How have you been able to penetrate the fashion Industry in Nigeria?
We have the kindest customers. Many of our clients come through referrals. We have customers who are very excited about our work and gladly share what we do with others. I call them the Elizabeth Waldorf brand ambassadors.
How have you financed your business?
Long story short, bootstrapping. It’s not easy to access loans from financial institutions and seeking equity from potential investors is also never quite easy.
What is your competitive edge?
At Elizabeth Waldorf, we aim to please and want to exceed our client’s expectations. We provide excellent customer service and we truly believe that the “customer is king.” We don’t just say this, our customers can attest to what we do.
What is the five (5) year plan for your business?
My dream is to build a global brand. We want to build a strong brand and be well-known around the world.
What business challenges do you face?
Like many other small businesses in Nigeria, I’d say electricity. I think more businesses would thrive and save more of their profits if only we can fix the power issue.
What key things have you learned since starting your business idea?
(1) Never expect everyone to say yes to you,
(2) Always believe in yourself,
(3) Understand that it is okay to fail as long as you learn from your mistakes. Also, when you fail, never quit. Keep going,
(4) Build and develop a reliable team – a great team is a great asset,
(5) I have also learned to trust my instincts.
What advice do you have for youths looking to start a business idea but say ‘there is no money’?
There will never be a time when there will be money so my advice is to start now and start small.
How do you think African youths can continue to support each other?
Young people can support one another by establishing common goals, sharing ideas, and by providing solutions to growing challenges.
How many jobs have you created so far?
We have created five (5) jobs in the last two years.
How can we support and improve innovation in Africa?
We can agree that the government has a lot of work to do; however, we cannot continue to solely rely on the government. Private organizations and philanthropists should invest more in young people and businesses. We know that small businesses are important to the growth of the economy.
Lastly, I would like to add that I strongly believe in the power of dreams. Growing the Elizabeth Waldorf brand has taught me that with passion, consistency, and determination, anything is achievable and possible.
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