How did you prepare, financially, to start Jembere? What was most costly in terms of startup?
I started with family to get the beginning stages going. At this time, crowd funding was huge. I had been studying and researching other entrepreneurs on their successful campaigns. I decided this was how I would fund my initial production run. I ran a 40-day campaign on Indiegogo and it was a huge success. I raised almost $19,000 and Jembere Eyewear was ready to go.
Â What’s been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in an effort to own your own business?
For me, it has been time and stability. Not going back to the stability of a paycheck was hard. When starting your own company your priorities change. There is a lot that comes with it and you are responsible for everything. I have always been passionate about owning my own business. The excitement you get with every little accomplishment is amazing so, in the end, watching your business grow and flourish is worth all the sacrifice.
Â What’s been your biggest obstacle since starting the company and how did you overcome it?
Â The biggest obstacle for me was getting the funding. Running a crowdfunding campaign was one of the hardest things I’ve done. It requires a lot of your time and for those 40 days I did not sleep much. I decided to take my campaign on a tour while hosting a series of campaign events in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and NYC. Although it was tough, it was an awesome experience.
Â When business gets tough, what motto or words of encouragement keep you motivated and why?
For me, I always look at my family for encouragement. We immigrated here and my parents had to do whatever they could to support their children. My mother and father are my inspiration because they are what keep me going. I’m just living my dream.
Â Talk about some of the ways you’ve incorporated charity into your business and why it was so important for you to give back?
As mentioned above, I am Ethiopian and when I decided to start my company I knew I wanted to make sure there was a charitable aspect specifically with my country. We are so happy to have partnered with Seeds of Africa. Seeds of Africa is a non-profit education and community development organization with a school in Adama (Nazret), Ethiopia. After the opportunity to visit the school last year, we knew it was a perfect fit. Â A portion of our proceeds go towards the purchase of uniforms and school supplies. Giving back is the ultimate fashion statement and, for Jembere, we are thrilled to be a part of such an amazing organization.