J Phoenix London is a company which design beautiful modern clothing aimed specifically at today’s urban chic woman that wants to look and feel stylish, sophisticated, elegant and of course sexy. Jolanta Mikalauskaite, owner of J Phoenix gives us an insight to her background and her standout feminine designs.
HOC. How did you start out in the world of fashion and design, and was this the career path you knew you would work towards?
Jolanta. My mother was a seamstress and she was teaching clothing construction and pattern making. When I was little I was designing clothes for my barbie dolls and we used to make them together with my mother. I watched her work and I was eager to learn everything she knew. So I did. I took in her level of perfection. She said ‘clothes have to look as beautiful inside as they are outside’. This philosophy I implement in every piece I make.
When I got older I started designing clothing for myself, then for my friends and slowly transitioned into creating this brand. Since the age of 15 I was a model. Then I worked in famous designer brand stores. All my life I am surrounded by fashion so I couldn’t imagine anything else I could do better. I knew the industry inside out, it was so natural to me.
HOC. We love the name of your brand, J Phoenix where did this originate from and is there a story behind the name?
Jolanta. Thank you. When I decided to create this brand i was at the lowest point of my life, just after my father passed away and few years of not being able to find my path I felt trapped and destroyed. I knew I must follow my passion in order to have purpose. That’s when I decided I needed to take steps to create this brand. Phoenix name came into my mind when I had a conversation with my friend about planning to start my company and how it gives me hope and purpose at the same time. He said, ‘‘you are like phoenix’. I envisioned myself rising after what felt like destruction, becoming stronger than ever.
HOC. You are known for using only the best quality materials for your designs, and we can see that leather, silk, and chiffon are used throughout your current collection, which is your favourite fabric to work with and why?
Jolanta. The centrepiece of the brand are leather leggings. Idea was to create the most perfect leather leggings as, in my eyes, it’s a ‘little black dress’ in mega city, busy lifestyle living woman’s wardrobe. They look chic in almost any occasion, just by changing tops it can transition from daywear to evening wear seamlessly. Such a versatile product! I love to work with leather mostly. It almost molds onto every curve and takes personal shape of individual, its beautiful! Longevity of leather product is fascinating. It will serve you for many years and will just get better with time. I love contrasting fabrics and how featherlight silks contrast with leather. Almost like feminine and masculine for the perfect balance!
HOC. Do you have a core clientele, or does your customer base vary season to season?
Jolanta. My clients are mostly busy business women that love fashion, have unique style and don’t compromise on comfort.
HOC. The fashion industry can be cutthroat at times, was there ever a point that you thought Jo Phoenix London may never make it off the ground?
Jolanta. At the beginning everything seems exciting and a vision shines like a bright star that keeps you going without looking back. However there are moments when setbacks come in and it seems like a dead end. It’s not in my nature to give in to these setbacks. But it’s good to step back and evaluate your work at times, hence I believe that those setbacks are necessary to keep you in the right direction. Time is essential to prove your value in this market. It takes years of relentless work to become truly established.
HOC. Do you remember the very first piece that you designed and then sold, can you tell us about that piece?
Jolanta. That happened before my brand. I was 19 when I designed a dress to wear to my best friend’s wedding. It was a nude colour knee length dress that I embellished with 3D colourful butterflies all over. Everyone loved that dress. I wore it on another occasion and this beautiful model girl came up to me and asked if I would sell that dress to her and I did. It was an amazing feeling.
HOC. Do you design all the pieces yourself or do you work with a team of designers who help with your collections?
Jolanta. I design everything myself at the moment.
HOC. Now that J Phoenix London is going from strength to strength, can you see yourself designing anything other than clothing?
Jolanta. I am testing myself in interior design. I have a creative mind and feel in my element when designing.
HOC. Did anyone offer you invaluable business advice that stuck in your mind before you launched J Phoenix?
Jolanta. ‘If you can improve people’s lives, you have a business’. Richard Branson said it. It’s all about problem solving. For many years it was in my mind that I would like to create a brand that would solve the never ending ‘what to wear’ problem, especially for a woman living in a big urban city. With the demands of meetings, lunches, various events, dinners, parties -all in one day. Keeping pace with a busy lifestyle requires pain free transformations from daywear to evening wear. Idea was- keep the leggings and just change the top and you don’t have to go home to change from day wear to evening wear.
HOC. What business advice would you give to someone who is looking to start in design and fashion? And, is there anything you would suggest that they don’t do when launching a clothing company?
Jolanta. The key is being you. Even though it might have been done before, if you stake your claim on a specific look, and deliver it well every time then eventually it will become yours. Get experimenting with different styles out of your system before you start your brand. Find your perfect look and stick to it. Your aesthetic has to be instantly recognised by customers.
It’s one of the hardest businesses to succeed. You need to love what you do and be good at it! Market is overfilled with cheap products that are worn once and get thrown away. Fast fashion is ruining the environment and not only that. It takes away the appreciation of hard work that really is put into creation of clothing. Don’t take that path.
Thanks for taking the time to answer the House of Coco Magazine Girl Bosses of Great Britain #GBOGB questions.
Visit J Phoenix London for more info – www.jphoenixlondon.com