​Ajani: The 24 yr old redefining African fashion & empowering disadvantaged children (exclusive interview)

Meet your icon of the week: Ajani Oluwaseyi Jude is the CEO, Janicuts fashion house and convener, Project Let Go Africa. 

How old are you?

Which university did you graduate from?

Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-ife, Nigeria

When and how was JANICUTS fashion house founded?

When I was an undergraduate.  I didn’t like the idea of collecting Money from my parents from home so I started it. Then the passion grew more
Can you tell us about more JANICUT fashion House?

At Janicuts fashion house we offer exquisite customization and ready to wear outfits to people with unique sense of style.  Our designs are classy, pocket friendly, casual and comfortable to wear. We make t-shirts, bags, shoes, caps, jerseys, uniforms etc. We infuse the African culture into our designs by using fabrics like Ankara, aso-oke, adire.

We believe in making people happy hence our motto. ‘Just be happy’
What was the inspiration behind starting a fashion business?

I believe African fashion is rich and beautiful.  I want to sell African fashion to the world. We need to start exporting African fashion more!
We know you were one of the Elite students in Electrical Engineering, if you were asked to choose between Engineering and Fashion, which would you go for and why?

I love freedom. I don’t like rules. I feel comfortable anywhere am allowed to make my own decisions. As long as am happy and free, both fields are great.
How did you raise capital for JANICUT fashion House?

I didn’t start big like that. I started by making one or two shoes, clothes for friends, then the profit made was re-invested, and any money I received then also went into it
What is JANICUTS unique selling point (what makes your brand standout)?

World class designs and infusion of African designs. 
What else are you passionate about asides fashion?

I am a strategic thinker, and I love helping others. This passion birthed “Project Let Go Africa” (www.projectletgoafrica.com).

What is the mission of the initiative?

At PROJECT LET GO AFRICA, we frown at the habit of wastage, and as such we want to encourage the youths to be benevolent by imbibing the habit of giving, empowering the society by uplifting the faces of the needy via material things; clothes, books, food and even with  our knowledge and experiences.

This idea was borne from the present realities of our world belonging to the social classes of the haves and have-nots; where many have too much to use and waste them and in the extreme case, people who have nothing to use and nothing to lose.

Some sides of our society have been marginalized, downtrodden and denied the access to the fundamentals of living. We have many people who are not privileged; who the society sometimes ignore or fail to remember their existence. It also stems from the fact that, people (youths) sometimes hold on to material things without need for them until they are spoilt or no longer usable.

There is also a trend amongst youths where they constantly accumulate new things whilst holding on to their old ones. We believe that that no matter how old these materials may seem, someone somewhere is in need of them and would deeply appreciate having them; hence, our motto “Just Let Go”. 

So, we want to encourage the act of giving back to the society; to those that are less privileged. We believe one does not have to be a millionaire to be philanthropic; the little you have will go a long way in meeting the needs of someone, somewhere. We are committed to ensuring special protection for the most disadvantaged children – victims of war, disasters, extreme poverty, all forms of violence and exploitation and those with disabilities.
What has been your major challenge?

Getting sponsors and people that people that believe in the vision. Challenges are everywhere but I believe that with prayer and hard work we shall overcome. I see these challenges as stepping stones, Experiences acquired from solving a problem will easily be used to solve another problem.
Any words of advice for aspiring youths who want to become fashionpreneurs?

Pray, work hard, don’t give up, keep going, just be happy and just let go!

Published by Ogunbowale Olugbenga

Ogunbowale Olugbenga is a multiple award winning social entrepreneur & digital skills expert. An alumnus of the Leadership in Business Institute of Kellogg School of Management (USA), He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Obafemi Awolowo University (Nigeria). Inspired by the plight of millions of unemployed youths, Olugbenga founded Epower.ng, a digital agency passionately growing businesses & accelerating the application of digital skills for economic prosperity across Africa. To help institutions prevent scandals & promote performance, Gbenga founded Polivoice.Work, an anonymous employee feedback tool that captures & analyses feedback anonymously in real time to detect, predict & improve work place conditions. A Mandela Washington Fellow, Tony Elumelu Fellow, Royal Common wealth society fellow, YALI star of business & YALI network influencer, Olugbenga is the founder of Africa’s biggest orphanage outreach, The Orphan Empowerment Society, with a 5,000 strong volunteer force and a presence in 19 African countries empowering thousands of orphans with free vocational skills, medical care, & food. He is also the co-founder of the communication & leadership organization, Pacesetters Leadership Club.

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