Starting your own business boils down to a choice between “leap right in” and “take things slow and steady.” That is to say, my guest’s story today has alot to say about starting a business in Tunisia, and not any business! A business advocating for diversity. My guest studied luxury marketing in baie des anges Nice, located in southeastern France and just before packing to go to the airport, she received an email from LVMH.
- Eya , can you present yourself?
My name is Eya Jaafoura , I am a young entrepreneur. I had the courage to start my first project at the age of 22 as I discovered the world of entrepreneurship by launching my first collection for my clothing brand in 2019.
Now that I’m turning 26 year old, my project became successful and is growing day by day. Today I’m not only the owner of JFR but also a manager of a textile manufacturing company composed of more than 10 employees.
- You’ve studied Luxury Marketing in Nice, would you like to tell us about your background?
I got my degree in Management in 2018 from MSB (Mediterranean School of Business). As a matter of fact, I highly recommend this university to people who want to start their career in business because it’s not just about having a business knowledge or economics background , but it’s more about building your personality and the skills that will allow you to discover who you are and be ready to enter the business world.
During my third year at MSB, I started questioning my career again; what’s next for Eya? What is her next challenge ? What do I want my life to look like?
When we say business, many sectors come to our minds… But where do I really want to be? Where do I see myself in 10 years? Honestly it was a tough period, at that time I didn’t know that that challenging journey was the beginning of a beautiful one!
I started doing interviews for different majors and universities around the world. All I was looking for was finding myself, because at that time I knew that this method would help me discover my path!
Until the day of my interview with Skema business school came, I chose the Luxury and Fashion Management program with a major in Marketing, it was one of the best interviews I’ve ever had! I still remember the way I described the JFR brand in that interview. It was a pure description and full of emotions. I talked about a brand that I built in my imagination like if it has already existed for 10 years, that feeling of being me appears ! The interviewer was impressed by the storytelling of the project, and it was on that day my journey began !
My Master was mostly about real projects, all the professors were managers in Hermès , Gucci , Louis Vuitton, Nike…
I spent 2 amazing years in France. I learned alot from this program that helped me with my brand. In the last year I had an excellent GPA of 3.6/4 and I was in the leading group.I didn’t achieve this result because I worked hard , but it was more the achievements of ‘doing what you love’..
- The day you’re leaving Nice to come back here to Tunisia, you received an email from LVMH announcing you’ve been selected as a candidate for their admission program, yet you decided to leave it all behind because you’ve got a vision and a dream to perceive, we’d love to hear about it!
I believe that trying is the key for any achievement, that’s why I always wanted to start my project at a young age, because it’s a great feeling to learn from the obstacles and struggles I’m facing during my journey, until I make it happen.
During the last 2 months of the Master program, I started looking for an internship. I applied for about 10 Louis Vuitton’s offers and I had rejection’s emails for all of them, but I was so proud that I had the chance to apply for a brand like LV. So I didn’t give up and kept applying.
Until all the plans suddenly changed and stopped because of the pandemic, in March, 2020 I found myself obliged to go back to Tunisia because we didn’t know what was going to happen later.
I was confused and lost because the trip didn’t end the way I wanted. I still remember the night I was packing everything to go to the airport; at that desperate moment I received an email from LVMH (a 4 year program that I applied for in Feb) saying that I’m selected for the next round! I was so happy that I finally read this sentence “we are excited to inform you that…” finally it was not a rejection! I had been waiting for this sentence for so long! That email was a source of motivation for me, to never stop believing in myself.
In that difficult period, the university gave us the right to postpone the internship to the next year so that we don’t lose the opportunity to do our internship abroad).At that moment I had an energy that wanted to explode, and that energy can only be my brand. The passion and love I have for JFR helped me get through this difficult period. So during the lockdown I started working on the swimsuits collection of our SS20 and I decided to just do my internship in Tunisia in 2020 because with the Covid-19 we were not able to travel again and I didn’t want to postpone it to a year after. All I wanted at that time was to start making my own story.
We must always think positive and be optimistic because when we believe in ourselves we always achieve our dreams, if we don’t achieve it today, we will definitely achieve it tomorrow.
I believe that JFR was the reason behind choosing this path. I didn’t regret any of my decisions, because I simply enjoyed entering a world full of creativity, a world where there are no barriers. All I need to do is to think out of the box.
This brand helped me grow and change for the better, thanks to this decision today I proudly see myself as a successful businesswoman running her own brand, making mistakes, learning and growing.
- How did the JFR Brand start and how do you advocate for diversity through it?
My story started when I started really seeing how people can’t accept each other just because they have different thoughts, perspectives, and ideas. So, I decided to send a peaceful message through fashion, to encourage girls to be more confident, to show that we are all equal and that being different doesn’t mean that you are wrong. As I consider fashion the tool that enabled me to think out of the box, break the rules and express myself.
So If I need to describe JFR it would be for sure a “problem solver”, it’s a solution for any woman who wants to wear modestly and stylish clothes at the same time.
I love swimming but only when I wear the swimsuit that makes me look fashionable with my headscarf and feel comfortable. I was always confident that many veiled girls are struggling just like me, thus during my summer vacation I decided to launch the first collection of swimsuits. I still remember the day I bought 4 rolls of fabric, at that time it looked like a huge thing for me! It was the equivalent of 150 swimsuits. I didn’t waste my time thinking nor hesitating, I immediately started. All I was thinking was succeeding and creating this product that will amaze other girls and be the solution for them too.
So first I started by choosing the designs carefully, making the samples and then the production. In the end I created an Instagram account and it all started from 0 followers until the sales started and people started to like the products and especially the quality. In just 2 weeks I sold all the quantities I had and I went back to France.
After only one year, we increased the quantity to 700 swimsuits, and today it has increased to 1300 swimsuits. We are always working harder to grow and improve.
Now JFR is not just about me, the responsibilities have increased, and the brand is getting bigger, so now JFR is composed of an amazing team; Fashion designers, graphic designer, a team for sublimation and seamstresses. We are always choosing the best quality of fabrics carefully from Italy to match with the needs of veiled girls.
- Final thoughts, what are your top advices for someone who’s young and trying to launch a business in Tunisia?
My advice for any person who wants to start a project is to:
1- Believe in themselves
2- Have passion in what they are doing or wants to do
3- Be different and exclusive
On the other hand, making a business plan is a useful tool to understand if you are taking the right path or not and what should be changed, as it helps us to have a global idea about the financial statements and strategies.
I can’t end up our talk without saying anything about our upcoming masterpieces; we are coming back this season with a collection named ‘DIVERSITY IS US’. We worked on transferring our energy and peaceful message through just the designs and pictures.
A unique collection that is composed of around 5 looks and more than 20 colors; with some limited edition looks. You will find a diversity of looks and colors that we didn’t use before. This collection will be on FIRE! When we say our pieces are unique, we mean it!
- Thank you Eya for delivering such a strong message with your brand! I myself approve of the quality!
Dear readers, let us know your thoughts in comments about having a vision behind a business and stay tuned for the next guest.