Sisterhood of the Traveling Bag: Fair and Local in Berlin

Posted on by Phuong Mai

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Our Valletta bag is in Berlin, Germany this week visiting Jovan Vialva. Jovan recently started the fair fashion company, J. Jackman, with the goal of producing beautiful, high quality clothing locally in Germany at a price that supports living wages yet doesn’t break the bank. As if starting her own company weren’t impressive enough, she’s done it all as an expat while continuing to work full time on the monetization team of eBay. We caught up with this American-born femmepreneur to talk entrepreneurship and inspiration.

1.) You just launched J. Jackman, a brand of high quality wearable statement pieces made fairly in Germany. What inspired you to create this company?  

Like most women who have worked a few years, I had gotten to the point where I was over buying clothes to wear for a season and then throw away, and I could finally afford to buy higher quality pieces. After moving to Germany, I found it difficult to find high quality pieces at a price I could still afford, in the feminine and classic style I loved. So - I created j.jackman to meet this need and to have some fun! I chose to produce all j.jackman pieces in Germany because I am a firm believer in supporting a local economy, and I try to do this with almost everything I buy.

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2.) Why does fairly made clothing matter to you?

The question to me really is why wouldn’t it matter? We all would agree that it is the right thing to do to treat others with respect. So at j.jackman we make sure of this because not doing so would just be strange.

3.) What has been the most surprising thing about founding J. Jackman thus far?

I am from Brooklyn, and I do everything pretty fast. j.jackman has taught me the value patience. Good things take time, and I want to make a really good thing.

4.) Who have been your biggest supporters as you launched J. Jackman?

There is a long list. The biggest supporter would be Florian, my boyfriend. He has been everything from chauffeur to CFO. Then my mother, who has pushed and motivated me my entire life. Then of course my network of friends.

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5.) You’ve continued to work full time while founding your company. Do you have any words of advice for other women who might want to found their own business but aren’t quite ready to give up their day job?

This decision wasn’t a matter of not being ready to give up my job. For me, it was very practical. I wanted to maintain my visa and, to be frank, after living in 4 cities in 5 years (across 3 countries!) I didn’t have enough savings to make it without working. For others doing it this way I would say: you should be proud of yourself for hustling enough to start an entire company when most just want to recover and watch Netflix on the couch. Keep your priorities straight and go at your own pace.

6.) You’ve been living in Berlin now for a number of years. What’s it like to be an expat living abroad?

I am lucky enough to have moved to Berlin with the best possible conditions - I had a job and I moved with my boyfriend. So it has been pretty fantastic! I have tried to immerse myself as much as possible into this city. I have learned German to the point where I can now even start to understand the Berliner dialect and sometimes only remember the German word for something.  Still, I try to hold on to my roots with an annual Thanksgiving Dinner we host at our place.

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7.) Where do you go for inspiration?

Sleep! No joke - my brain processes a ton of input when sleeping or even when doing something totally not related to design. Some of my best ideas came while Excel modeling. Sad, but true!

8.) How do you carry on beautifully? 

Stay positive, wear a smile, be 100% confident in the things I create. Oh - and carry my P.Mai bag, which I love and always receive compliments on :-)

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Our Valletta bag is in Berlin, Germany this week visiting Jovan Vialva. Jovan recently started the fair fashion company, J. Jackman, with the goal of producing beautiful, high quality clothing locally in Germany at a price that supports living wages yet doesn’t break the bank. As if starting her own company weren’t impressive enough, she’s done it all as an expat while continuing to work full time on the monetization team of eBay. We caught up with this American-born femmepreneur to talk entrepreneurship and inspiration.

1.) You just launched J. Jackman, a brand of high quality wearable statement pieces made fairly in Germany. What inspired you to create this company?  

Like most women who have worked a few years, I had gotten to the point where I was over buying clothes to wear for a season and then throw away, and I could finally afford to buy higher quality pieces. After moving to Germany, I found it difficult to find high quality pieces at a price I could still afford, in the feminine and classic style I loved. So - I created j.jackman to meet this need and to have some fun! I chose to produce all j.jackman pieces in Germany because I am a firm believer in supporting a local economy, and I try to do this with almost everything I buy.

image

2.) Why does fairly made clothing matter to you?

The question to me really is why wouldn’t it matter? We all would agree that it is the right thing to do to treat others with respect. So at j.jackman we make sure of this because not doing so would just be strange.

3.) What has been the most surprising thing about founding J. Jackman thus far?

I am from Brooklyn, and I do everything pretty fast. j.jackman has taught me the value patience. Good things take time, and I want to make a really good thing.

4.) Who have been your biggest supporters as you launched J. Jackman?

There is a long list. The biggest supporter would be Florian, my boyfriend. He has been everything from chauffeur to CFO. Then my mother, who has pushed and motivated me my entire life. Then of course my network of friends.

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5.) You’ve continued to work full time while founding your company. Do you have any words of advice for other women who might want to found their own business but aren’t quite ready to give up their day job?

This decision wasn’t a matter of not being ready to give up my job. For me, it was very practical. I wanted to maintain my visa and, to be frank, after living in 4 cities in 5 years (across 3 countries!) I didn’t have enough savings to make it without working. For others doing it this way I would say: you should be proud of yourself for hustling enough to start an entire company when most just want to recover and watch Netflix on the couch. Keep your priorities straight and go at your own pace.

6.) You’ve been living in Berlin now for a number of years. What’s it like to be an expat living abroad?

I am lucky enough to have moved to Berlin with the best possible conditions - I had a job and I moved with my boyfriend. So it has been pretty fantastic! I have tried to immerse myself as much as possible into this city. I have learned German to the point where I can now even start to understand the Berliner dialect and sometimes only remember the German word for something.  Still, I try to hold on to my roots with an annual Thanksgiving Dinner we host at our place.

image

7.) Where do you go for inspiration?

Sleep! No joke - my brain processes a ton of input when sleeping or even when doing something totally not related to design. Some of my best ideas came while Excel modeling. Sad, but true!

8.) How do you carry on beautifully? 

Stay positive, wear a smile, be 100% confident in the things I create. Oh - and carry my P.Mai bag, which I love and always receive compliments on :-)

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