“Up close” with- Jane Michael Ekanem
So we are kicking off a new series called “Up Close” on the website and this features insights on our favourite fashionistas, whether they are in media,entertainment or any other industry. As long as they’re fashionable, we will speak to them to allow us a peek into their lives.For the premier episode, we caught up with Jane Michael Ekanem. She is a celebrity stylist and she has worked with a lot of big names, including being the head stylist for the Nigerian singing competition, “MTN Project Fame”. Yes you heard right! She was the one behind all the gorgeous outfits that we looked forward to every week on the host, Bolanle Olukanni and the various contestants.
Jane officially began her career as a celebrity stylist in 2009 when she got contracted to style the contestants and hosts of MTN Project Fame. Jane’s celebrity dressing clients have included: Yemi Alade, Tiwa Savage, Seyi Shay, Mo’Cheddah, Tolu Oniru, Waje, and many other high profile celebrities.
Jane Michael was recently featured on CNN’s African Voices as the stylist behind some of Nigeria’s hottest celebrities
Let us take a peek into her life, goals and future projects underway for her;
- What is fashion to you?
Fashion to me is an expression of art, the inner beauty and the creativity in a person’s mind that the public has the opportunity to see.
- What is your favourite fashion accessory?
My favorite fashion accessory is my wrist watch and a good handbag.
- If you weren’t in the fashion industry, what alternative industry do you think you would’ve been in?
I would most probably have been in the entertainment industry as a dance instructor.
- Who’s your favourite Nigerian designer and why did you select that designer?
My favorite would be Ejiro Amos Tafiri. As much as there are so many Nigerian designers that I like, I choose her because she is one of those who started from nothing to building a reputable fashion brand and when I see her and other designers like Lisa Folawiyo and many others, I am inspired to work harder.
- You started as a stylist and we know you are building a fashion line, what prompted that decision?
The decision to begin my fashion label was not a momentary one, but a long time coming. Like all business decisions it was a matter of when to actually start designing fully as I was undergoing different stages as a fashion entrepreneur and a business woman. Choosing to start my career as a stylist before branching into designing, I would say was a good decision because as a stylist you get in touch with the fashion community more closely and can determine what your target market will be. It also helped me meet the right people, gain the right experience and I cannot make light of the exposure it has given me; so when I decided to build my fashion line, I was ready and equipped.
- When do we look forward to the launch and can you tell us a little bit more about the fashion line?
My clothing line has been in inception since August 2016, so I have been in production ever since with the hope and intention to unveil a 13-piece collection towards the end of 2017 or 2018. This is because I am a perfectionist, and I want to have perfect finishing for all my pieces. My pieces are clean, effortless and sophisticated and I want the consumers to be able to see that even before the own one Jane Michael piece.
- What is one fashion trend you absolutely hate?
The shiny stretchy leggings, Ugh.
You have been in the fashion industry for a while, what advice can you offer that will help increase growth?
For a better and fast-growing industry, I would advise the designers not to stop doing what they do best but in the bid to reach more markets, no designer should be a copy. In respect to the structure of the industry, I think collaborations would expand our horizons and when we take criticisms and work on our skill, it would improve our quality and increase our market.
- We know the fashion industry can be brutal, what has been your worst experience in the fashion industry?
I would not be able to point a ‘worst experience’, but I do hate it a lot when I do not feel valued by the client. I know the due to the successes of many of our projects, people like to work with the brand Jane Michael; but the person behind the brand tends to be soft spoken and not be a diva and sometimes have clients tend to exploit and devalue that. In turn it puts me on a defensive mode during work and this is the reason I have turned down some clients (celebrities) and stating my refusal to work with their brand.
- Any future projects that we should be looking forward to?
I am excited to talk about this. I am officially starting my School of Styling soon but the details will be made public when the school is ready to accept students. I hope the School can help create jobs by training stylists to establish themselves in the art. I also have a foundation called the JaneMichael Ekanem Foundation for young women with genuine financial constraints to be able to go through their secondary and tertiary levels of education
We wish her the best of luck in all her projects as we look forward to her growth and influence in the fashion industry.