My 10 With… returns and I’m starting off with one of Nigeria’s leading fashion stylists, Jane Michael Ekanem.
After contemplating on who to kick off with, I finally decided on this very enterprising and inspiring lady. She is an epitome of #BlackGirlsRock, who has proven the ‘Can Do’ spirit can get you to your dream height. Her responses to this chat would give you an idea on how to stick to your guns, constantly work at evolving and being relevant.
Juggling fashion styling with her new feat as designer can’t be the easiest of job descriptions but Jane strives for that balance.
Get into a bit of her world as you catch up on our brief chit-chat.
G! | Just as any other creative profession, fashion stylists have different prep rituals when it comes to getting ready for a shoot or a styling session. What’s yours?
Jane | As much as I would say I do the basics that every stylist would do, I do not know how others perform their preps. I meet the clients, understand their comfort zones and what they would like to be pictured in and tell them the truth about what is achievable based on their body types; because you cannot have a Gabourey Sidibe body and want to achieve a Beyoncé look.
G! | The brand Jane Michael has been around for quite a while. How do you stay needed by clients?
Jane | I try to keep my head up and rise above water, and by that I mean there are times when you want to give up because things are not working out the way I would expect, because I may feel underpriced and maybe feel people do not appreciate the works like I may expect. Yet again, I look back at where I began and where I am at now, I realize there is tremendous progress in my career and that helps me keep going.
G! | What is it like working with Bolanle Olukanni for MTN Project Fame seasons?
Jane | Working with her this season was different and interesting as compared last season, because we had a pre-production meeting where we tried to get a clear picture of what was expected of everyone. From the get-go I knew trying to achieve what we all wanted was going to be tasking because I would need to have the outfits made from scratch. That would actually count as the major challenge because I had planned ahead and that helped me work great with her. A lot of times designers didn’t come through as expected, but God helped us pull through.
G! | Share a fun BTS experience between you ladies.
Jane | There were times when she would ask “Jane, what am I wearing?” and I, some of those times, had no clue and we would laugh about it even though it was a serious issue; have in mind that this is Bolanle asking on a Thursday morning as regards the outfit for Friday. On those days she would laugh and say “I do not know why I bother myself, because I know you would figure it out”. I usually would ask how she was so relaxed about it and wasn’t scared; to which she would reply that she wasn’t, because she knew I was up to the task.
G! | Congratulations on your new feat as fashion designer. How did that come about?
Jane | Thank you so much. On the new direction my career is taking, I had always wanted to design fashion pieces and before I began my career as a stylist, I used to deal in cufflinks and then had a mobile boutique; so somehow my journey as an entrepreneur has been centered around fashion. With my experience as a stylist, there have been times I needed to make the outfits I would style the clients in right there and then on set resulting to tacking it onto the client’s body. Since I could do that with little effort and I knew I had a strong interest in designing, I decided to do it properly because…well, why not?
G! | When are you launching fully?
Jane | I have begun designing fully and I am hoping to put out a Lookbook by the end of the year. However, I find myself laden with clients who want bespoke pieces and that has slowed my plans a little; even though I still need to put more in place like machines and seamstresses. So I would say really soon.
G! | What do you think will set you apart as a designer?
Jane | What will set me apart I believe, is what sets other designers apart. The uniqueness of my brand, my signature cuts and staying original.
G! | For those who want to be in the fashion industry because they are inspired by Jane Michael, what do you say to them?
Jane | Everything is achievable but patience is vital. Not every dream turns out as you picture it in the beginning, but if you stay at it and be as original as can be, you can be better than the best person you admire in that business. One thing else, never forget the wonders God can do with you, your talent and your passion.
G! | What makes you tick?
Jane | God, the things around me and the people around me.
G! | What are your essentials for the perfect styling?
Jane | A Sewing kit is a must-have, accessories in silver and gold, pins and trimmings. It is the little things that count
G! | On a more chilled note, mascara or eye liner?
Jane | Mascara all the way!
Check out a few more of Jane’s projects.
Connect with Jane via her:
Website | janemichaelekanem.com
Instagram | @janemichaelekanem