Mary speaks on Nigeria – which way forward ?
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Mary speaks on Nigeria – which way forward ?
The Power in Femininity!
The African Women Power (AWP) Network sat down with Princess Jenkins, Owner and Chief Fashion Director of the Brownstone Woman Clothing Boutique in Harlem, New York. It was an absolute pleasure to speak with Princess. She is a warm and extremely knowledgeable person. Princess shared many powerful stories and wonderful insight, which we would like to share with you.
What inspired you to start your business?
I have always wanted to start my own business and what inspires me I think, is what inspires most entrepreneurs – the willingness to depend on your own talent to make a way for yourself in the universe, the desire for freedom, and a way to create your own source of income. Entrepreneurship for me is believing that the talent God has given you, is adequate to provide you with everything that you will need to be successful in your work. My work in fashion is my passion. I enjoy working with and helping women to understand their own personal beauty, and create their own sense of style. I strongly believe that we do that well at the Brownstone.
What are the key things that you have learned since starting your business?
I have learned that people will appreciate your work if you are at your best. I have also learned that it is okay to fail. You cannot be afraid to fail – the more risks you take, the better.
What is the goal of your business?
Our goal is to make sure that every amazing woman who comes to my store has a wonderful experience. My company targets women who want to look like the queens that they are. I also focus on image consulting. Overall, it is my goal to make sure that all of my customers are happy and satisfied. I really do enjoy working for myself hence, my reputation is everything.
What advice do you have for women looking to start their business?
I will tell women to invest in their appearance, especially if you are a start-up entrepreneur. When you first start, nobody knows you and nobody cares unless you have a presence that makes people stop long enough to hear you talk – then they will get to know you. Image is very important and you should build one as you move. Make sure that you are not stuck in time with your image. Stop and take care of yourself no matter how budget restricted you are. Get your nails, hair, and makeup done. It is the whole package. Also, have a power suit – even if it is only one.
Build on a wardrobe, find a signature style that is comfortable to you, and always be a woman. Do not be afraid to be a girl. Use your girl power to your advantage, allow yourself to explore different styles, and be sure that you are true to yourself in your exploration. There is so much power in femininity, you cannot be a mock version of that.
What sorts of challenges do you face?
· Meeting payroll – I need to make sure that there is enough money to go around as I am responsible to my employees.
· Making my customers happy – I need to always make sure that I have the right merchandise at my stores.
· Lastly, making life happen – I am a wife, I am a mother, I am a sister, I am a sibling, and I am a child. Despite being a successful businesswoman, I have to fulfill and juggle all of these roles. My wonderful husband is extremely supportive and my daughter understands. I am grateful to my family and my support system.
What are your plans for your business ?
(My) immediate plan is to open a storefront in Brooklyn. My long-term goal is to continue to grow and expand the Brownstone Woman brand across the U.S. Another long-term goal is to travel across the world teaching everything that I have learned in my entrepreneurial journey to women and young people in the developing world.
How can women continue to support each other?
Women have to create their own support clubs and networks and these groups need to be inclusive. Men have created these clubs and that is how they climb up the ladder. Also, we need to learn how to function and connect with people outside of our networks and comfort zone because people who don’t look like you also want to be helpful.
This summer, my daughter opens a lemonade stand called Lou Lou’s Lemonade Stand – named after her grandmother. It is important that young girls start their entrepreneurial journey at a young age. It teaches them to be financially responsible – the earlier, the better.
Princess is my mentor and dear friend. I have shopped at The Brownstone Woman several times and I can personally vouch for the phenomenal shopping experience – words cannot describe. I recommend her store.
Princess owns two stores in Harlem at the following locations:
24 East 125th Street
New York, NY 10035
633 Lenox Avenue
Between 141 and 142 street
New York, NY 10037
Shop online or connect with Princess here: http://thebrownstonewoman.com/
The African Women Power (AWP) Network sat down with the Chief Executive Officer of MUI|PR, Ijeoma Genevieve Mbamalu. We asked her a series of insightful questions that we would like to share with you. Our aim is to inspire upcoming and existing women business owners as they move along in their entrepreneurial journey.
What inspired you to start your company ?
Three things inspired me to start my business. First – the need to be re-connected with the Nigerian culture. I had been away from Nigeria for a long time and could no longer speak my tribal language, Igbo. Starting this business was my way to re-connect with my culture and my roots. Second – the need to survive. I lost my father at a young age and as the first-born of my family, I had the responsibility of being a provider. Starting my business gave me a stable source of income during this difficult time. Lastly – my company fills a need. MUI | PR serves as a platform to celebrate and showcase African products, goods, and services in a positive way.
What is the goal of your business ?
Our goal is to get African business owners publicity, connect them to the right press channels, and serve as an information highway. My company is about good publicity for African businesses.
How did you come up with the name of your business ?
The name of my company is French. My mother speaks the language and I wanted the name of my company to be inclusive of French-speaking Africans. I am also working on re-branding MUI | PR by giving it an identity face-lift. Thus, in the new year, the company will be touted publicly as MUI-The PR Company. Very soon, we will unveil our new website.
What is your competitive advantage ?
My ability to offer PR solutions and results for my clients – I am able to leverage and pull together resources in the entertainment, music, and fashion arenas.
How did you finance your business ?
Bootstrapping – as we grow and expand, we will seek other forms of financing.
What advice do you have for people looking to start their own business ?
You can not be afraid to fail. You learn more from your failures. Just go for it! The journey will not be easy but it is certainly worth it.
Who is your target market ?
U.S based African businesses in the fashion and music industry – they include photographers, clothing designers, music artists, and DJs.
Where do you see your company five years from now ?
I see MUI | PR going global by expanding our reach to include all Africans in the diaspora. I also look forward to working with high-end magazines. MUI | PR will continue to promote African brands and serve as the PR group that represents the best interest of African businesses.
Connect with Ijeoma here: