A hardworking lady with gifted hands in the competitive world of accessory and handbag design, Jennifer Oamhen Thomas is one Nigerian woman making people pay attention to her and take notice of her unique take on beautiful, bespoke, handcrafted pieces that celebrate the art of artistry combined with a unique African touch. Her great eye for design, blended with the deployment of African textiles has allowed her to create handbags and accessories that have an irresistible visual appeal and charm.
She belongs to the crop of young Nigerian women profiting from their passion and inspiring other women to do so. The creative entrepreneur is the founder of Jenlo, a bag-making outfit for women who want to make unforgettable statements. Jenlo is a design and manufacturing company, which produces a beautiful range of handcrafted handbags.Her passion for making bags was awakened after she started seeing herself in a dream when a man clad in white outfit instructed her to acquire bag-making skills. She ignored the dreams initially, till it became persistent.
The Zoology graduate of Ambrose Alli University eventually decided to acquire the skill. Today, women of substance and elegance are buying her beautifully made bags. Driven by a desire to be unique, the Edo State born entrepreneur’s handcrafted bags are a symbol of attention to detail and excellent craftsmanship that leave you bedazzled. When Jennifer is not making bags, you would find her surfing the Internet, playing her favorite game, or reading. She shares her inspiring story with Esther Ijewere in this interview.
Growing up as a child, I wanted to be a medical doctor. We all know how the Nigerian educational system ends up changing someone’s original destiny, so I ended up studying Zoology. My childhood never prepared me for what I am doing now because I never saw myself being a bag designer in the future, but it is what it is.
Inspiration Behind Jenlo
All I can say is, God has been my source of inspiration. But at a time, I wanted to have a standard brand, so I got thinking of a unique, simple and classy name that can easily be registered in the lips and hearts of people. After much deliberation and prayers, Jenlo was birthed.
JEN-means Jennifer (my first name), which means clear vision or pure vision, L- signifies Longevity, which means both our products and our brand can stand the test of time, O- from Oamhen (my maiden name), which means my house is good. So, putting all together birthed JENLO.
The Journey So Far
The journey has been smooth and rough, sweet and bitter. At times, I feel like quitting but each time I remember the reason I started, I discover giving up is not an option. I will keep pushing and breaking boundaries till I get to the top where I belong.
Getting the right machines and tools are my major challenges. I hope a time will come when I will have all the machines and tools I need to excel in my craft. Having such machines and tools will fast track my work and make it a lot easier.
What I Enjoy Most About My Job
I love the creativity; I love the fact that people find me amazing because I am a professional bag designer. My designs are unique and represent class. Most of my customers tell me my bags can compete with foreign brands.
Going Viral And Gaining Momentum On Social Media
I feel happy and excited, but considering the vision I have towards my brand, I feel the momentum on social media is just starting. I have a long way to go, but the journey looks good so far. Most of my customers are people who live abroad, and they found out about my designs on social media.
Jenlo In Five years
Five years from now, Jenlo will be among the top five when mentioning bag-making brands worldwide. Five years from now, Jenlo will be a brand to reckon with. I have faith in creativity, my designs, passion and myself. I will keep working towards my goal.
Three Women Who Inspire Me And Why
I admire Prudent Gabriel of Prudential Fashion Academy; I am inspired by her passion towards what she does for her brand. The Minister of Women Affairs, Her Excellency Dame Pauline Tallen OFR, KSG, inspires me; I so much admire her passion for humanity. Mercy Johnson Okojie inspires me a lot and I so much admire how she made combining family, work and career look so easy.
Being A Woman Of Rubies
I am a precious and strong woman, dependent and supportive. I have a heart of care and concern towards people around me. I detest evil and embrace Godliness. I cherish good things too. I hardly hate, and I easily forgive.
Advice To Young Women Who Intend To Go Into My Line Of Business
Face your fears; life itself is a risk. So, in this journey called life, it’s risky not to take any risk. You have to start from somewhere, like every great designer out there. For you to succeed in this craft, you have to first conquer fear.