Meet budding entrepreneur, emerging designer and fashion enthusiast, Laura Jane, as she gives insight into her businesses and shares her top tips and advice on being your own boss in this Q&A.
Have you ever heard the quote ‘hard work and determination pays off’? Well, I believe Laura Jane is the true definition of that! I had the honour of attending an internship with her. Now fast forward to over five years later, Etsy’s finalist Laura, is now a fulltime entrepreneur, designer and fashion enthusiast. She owns two successful businesses, alongside a few other partnerships.
She shares her tips and advice for those looking to start their business and insights into her businesses in the Q&A below.
Q: What/who inspired you to start your own businesses?
My dad has been my biggest inspiration. My dad is his own boss; he works really hard and is amazing at what he does. My family have never questioned my plans or ideas to start a business or even work in a difficult industry like fashion and I will never forget, after graduating from Uni, I was struggling to find a job. My dad just simply said 'if you can't find a job, make one' and that is exactly what I did.
Q: You are currently CEO/founder and in partnership with a number of businesses and projects. How do you balance it all?
Truthfully I can't always balance it all and sometimes I just need the people around me to remind me that I need to take a break. I do believe that God has led me here and all of the things that I am currently a part of can be overwhelming most of the time. I am still standing, still grinding, still grafting and still thriving only because God has seen me through and continues to do so.
Q: Who or what inspires and motivates you each day?
I would say that my customers are the biggest inspiration and motivation for me. When I think of the people I am serving with my products it changes everything. They are the reason I do what I do and knowing I'm meeting a person’s need, that is priceless.
Q: What advice would you give to people looking to be their own boss?
First of all, it isn't easy so you need to be sure about it. Being your own boss entails so much more than meets the eye because you are your own colleague.
It can be very isolating so make sure you network and get to know other entrepreneurs and business men and women. Lastly, I would say know your industry. If you are serious about starting up a business, do your research, don't think you already know everything, be ready and willing to learn and be open to change.
Q: What kind of businesses do you own?
My first business is an African inspired clothing and accessories brand - Asikara by Laura Jane. I hand make and design bespoke clothing for clients in African wax print fabrics.
I started Asikara when I was at university just selling things I had made on Etsy to help fund my life whilst I was on placement. It progressed from there and after graduating and not finding a job in the industry, I persevered and turned my hobby into a brand.
My newest brand is Stay Lit Apparel. One thing people don't know about me is that I have a love for casual streetwear. I spend my entire placement year designing sportswear and graphics for various companies and it's something I have always loved doing.
Asikara took the front seat and I left the computer designing behind. Last year God introduced me to someone who had a vision to start up a Christian clothing brand in the UK and as we became best friends he saw in me the skills needed to be able to make that concept a reality.
Together we set up Stay Lit Apparel and we co-design some amazing Christian clothing that is aimed at the millennial generation. It combines our love for God with a love for fashion and our goal is to use these designs to spread the gospel and spark conversations about Jesus everywhere.
Q: Asikara by Laura Jane was a finalist in the 2019 Etsy Design Awards. Congratulations! How did that made you feel?
Thank you so much, yes it was an amazing feeling. I entered the competition on a whim, I really didn't think I would make it as a finalist and just to know that something I designed had been recognised as being one of the top pieces on Etsy, that is something I still struggle to get my head around today. It is an amazing achievement and I have to keep reminding myself of that.
Q: What are your best selling items at this moment?
Headwraps were one of the first items I started selling when I got serious about Asikara and to this day they are still my best selling product.
With Stay Lit the design that has caught the most attention is definitely faith over fears. Everyone really likes that design as do I.
Q: Where can we shop for your products?
Asikara by Laura Jane - Handmade African inspired clothing & accessories
Facebook & Instagram - @asikarabylaurajane
Stay Lit Apparel - Christian Clothing & Apparel
Facebook & Instagram - @staylitapparel.uk