21 September 2016
HELLO H-Metro readers and fashion enthusiasts at large.
It’s an honour for me to be contributing in this column in my own capacity as Cynthia Bizure Sithole, the lady behind Jan Jam Men’s & Ladies Wear.
I have been longing for this opportunity to share my vision and challenges I faced along the way since it was not a stroll in the park setting up this business.
To find out what I have in store for my regular and new customers, read on…
I was born on the 20th of January 1982, being the second born in a family of five – two girls and three boys.
I did my primary education at Southerton Primary School before I enrolled at Harare Girls High up to Form three.
I completed my ‘O’ levels at Nhowe Mission in Macheke, Mashonaland East.
After completing my high school, I enrolled at a local college where I did Accounts.
However, I did Accounts by default since Law was my first priority but I could not pursue it due to financial constrains.
To fulfil my passion for law, I worked at Muzondo & Chinhema Legal Practitioners for two and half years trying to raise money to supplement my school fees to study law.
I then met my husband Tanaka Sithole and we opened a business together.
It was a stationery company called Cathlamet Services where we competed with the biggest companies then but I had another passion for fashion and style.
After three years into the stationery business, I decided to venture into the fashion business.
I started off at Gulf Complex where I had four shops – where two catered for electrical gadgets while the two other ones were for clothing.
I used to get my orders from Botswana and South Africa.
Since I was still new, I would join other cross border traders and I recall enduring long and gruelling trips by road.
At one point we would put up at the border post waiting for clearance.
The worst trip I had was when I endured three days stuck in South Africa after the bus we were using had a breakdown.
I couldn’t afford to use alternative transport since I had exhausted all the money I had.
To make matters, I was still nursing my first born and she was a year old.
I can safely say I made my breakthrough seven years ago when I was still running my businesses at Gulf Complex.
It was out of hard work, persistence and prayer that I marked my breakthrough.
Like I indicated earlier on that I had a deep-seated passion for fashion and style, I had to close two shops which sold electrical appliances to concentrate more on clothing.
After realising that I had identified a new market or clientele, I met a friend called Gina Dura who persuaded me to try to make my orders from China.
It’s also this friend who helped me with my first trip to China.
She showed me places where I could place my orders, which saw the birth of Jan Jam.
I named the shop after my two kids – Janice and Jamie.
I am working towards opening another shop in the UK and South Africa.
Locally, I am about to open another shop at Samy Levy’s Village.
At the moment, we have four shops – two for men’s wear and one for ladies and the other one for the kids.
I am one such entrepreneur who embraces competition since it keeps one on their toes.
In my case, competition has also helped me to be innovative and always bring the best trends for my customers.
In this business, there is need for to give customers the best and value for their money.
Other players have fallen by the wayside due to failure to give customers value for their money.
In the past five or so years as Jan Jam, I have been dressing a number of celebrities.
Some of the celebs who have been loyal to us comprise musicians, pastors, models and socialites.
These include the likes of Stunner, Soul Jah Love, Tocky Vibes, Mathias Mhere and Sebastian Magacha along with socialites like Boss Spencer Madziya only but to mention a few.
I am happily married to Tanaka Sithole.
We have been married for 11 years and we are blessed with three kids – two girls and a boy.
Locally, people embrace new fashion trends but we always meet extremists from both ends.
In short, there are some who go too ahead of fashion and of course those lagging behind.
We have not been spared by the economic challenges faced by the country.
However, the Lord has been good for us and we have remained firm and resolute.
I always try to be my best and I have never changed who I was before this business adventure.
Fame would not change my character to be specific.
In this business, we always meet ‘hotheads’ and bullies but we know how to handle them.
When our customers come to the shop, we also help them to blend colours and put the whole outfits together.
I was nominated in the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards and Ngoda Awards where I was the only female entrepreneur among the nominees.
When I celebrated Jan Jam’s fifth anniversary last year with the help of my husband, Tanaka.
When I fell in Pick & Pay supermarket while buying stuff for the kids.
It happened a month ago since the floors were wet and management apologised to me.
On a parting shot, I would like to thank my husband Tanaka my mum and dad, family of course and the loyal customers who have made me to be where I am.
NB: Celebrities or celebrities’ managers intending to contribute to this column and share their stories, contact our Entertainment Desk on 0774119633 or [email protected] .co.zw