What did you see in Fort Wayne that made you decide to start Jophiel here versus maybe Chicago, where you were living?
What I loved about Fort Wayne was that I already knew the market to some extent. I grew up in Huntington and Rochester, Indiana and had clients from Fort Wayne that I was already styling in Chicago. But I think you could say Fort Wayne found me. When I would come home to visit my family in the summer for a week or so and stay in North Manchester, we would come to Fort Wayne and shop around. I came to know what was here and what opportunities existed, but I never thought I would have a store in Fort Wayne.
The dream of having a store in Fort Wayne actually unfolded by reading an article in a Chicago neighborhood paper about a 12 week course teaching “how to put a business plan together”. It was sponsored by the SBA and the Women’s Business Development Center of Chicago. It cost $400.00. Through a lot of encouragement from friends and family, I began to feel like maybe I should consider having my own retail store. So I signed up and thought let’s learn.
Working for smaller companies, I had a desire to know the back end of running a company and how you determined what to do and the whole cash flow picture. In the very first class, we were assigned to come up with a hypothetical business. I knew the market, the opportunities, the competition of Fort Wayne, so I decided that I would do my plan as though I were opening a store in Fort Wayne. By the time I finished the course I had already determined that I probably was not going to stay in Chicago. I was ready to return to Indiana.
This is really how it started, God sending me the ideas I needed to take each step. When I signed up for the course I never, ever thought Jophiel would happen. But obviously there was another plan in motion and a year later Jophiel opened its doors in our first 1800 square foot space at The Village at Coventry.
What role do you think Jophiel fulfills within the greater Fort Wayne business community? Within the greater fashion industry?
Jophiel fulfills a need like any business does. I think to be truly successful, and ensure longevity, you must fill a need. Broader than this we participate in our community by creating jobs and opportunities for dollars to stay local when purchasing our fashion offerings. The company is also very supportive of Fort Wayne philanthropic organizations and other local businesses for supplies, banking, maintenance and so much more. We think of ourselves as part of the neighborhood at Covington Plaza, but also the greater Fort Wayne community. Businesses must give back to the communities that help to make them successful. A good community gives you opportunities through its citizens for both good employees and lifelong clients.
But one other thing that Jophiel fulfills in this community is very specific to our business, we create beauty for our community with our fashion.
What does this role look like for the future Jophiel? Do you think it will change or maybe it has changed?
I take a very strong position that you should want to fulfill a role within the greater fashion industry. Just because you may not be a multi-store company doesn’t mean you are less thoughtful in your strategy and focus. Jophiel strives to bring beautiful, quality fashion and style to our clients. Appropriate to their needs but modern and current with where fashion is and where it is going. Our role isn’t to be a mass merchant with one of every size, it is to be particular and discerning and unique for each and every client we serve. It is not limited to our one store, we serve the fashion industry in its entirety, from its designers to suppliers, vendors and marketers, we are their fashion advocates too. I know we have been, and will continue to be important to the designers we carry, helping their businesses and their suppliers by our purchases, our growth and our development of their brands’ awareness as well as our own.