It is safe to say at this point, that if you are a Kenyan and you have never heard of, or worse still never owned a ‘Home 254’ apparel then you are just a terrible human being. And my mama don’t like you, and she likes everyone. Yeah, I’ve always wanted to use that line. But worry not, I’m here to make you likable once again. Meet Mr. Job Brian Jura, or as he is popularly known, Jbee Jura. Currently awaiting his graduation, Job Brian joined JKUAT in 2012 and has been pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. Alongside his studies however, he decided to venture into a clothes line business.
The motivation behind this was not just to make money, but also make a patriotic impact. But successfully running a business alongside the intensive academic engagements in JKUAT is no walk in the park. It requires discipline, time management, sacrifice, and the audacity to have a stubborn spirit of resilience. But make no mistake, it is totally worth it. I engaged Job Brian in a one on one on his entrepreneurial voyage amidst the turbulent academic waters this far.
Briefly describe what your clothes line is all about and how it operates
Mhhhhh…Home_254 is simply all about people getting to show their patriotism in an elegant way whether in the country or outside the country in the diaspora. It operates by people just making an order of whatever they see us posting on our social media platforms or they can describe what they want us to make for them. Most of our orders are from Instagram and some from Facebook but not forgetting referrals by satisfied clients.
What inspired you to start a clothes line and how did you start it off?
No matter how much challenges we got in Kenya, I still believe we have a great country. I love it and I love fashion so I thought to myself, why not combine the two? I wanted people to look good and feel patriotic, not having to wear the regular red, green, black and white outfits that already exist.
What informed the identity and brand name ‘home_254’?
I will just say this; a House is a building but a HOME is a feeling. HOME_254 is the Kenyan feeling, the feeling of patriotism.
As someone once told us Home_254 not only makes her look genteel but also gives her that incredible feeling of patriotic elegance.
What were some of the greatest challenge so far when you were starting?
Well, I created the design myself and I had to beat the craft out of it to come up with a masterpiece. A lot of apparels to show patriotism exist so I had to come up with something different. Home is not a building, it’s a feeling.
Capital was the greatest challenge, I had to take a Ksh.5066 loan from M-shwari (66 bob ni ya kutoa hehe) and Ksh.2000 loan from a High School friend of mine.
Another challenge and mistake was thinking that all my friends would be behind me giving me support. Only a few did, which kinda made me feel betrayed.
What has kept you going so far despite the shortcomings?
One word; PASSION for what I do. The feeling I get when I come across a person I totally don’t know with my apparel, that feeling is priceless.
Let me get out of context kidogo tu, I once sat with a lady in a matatu who had our hoodie on, How our conversation went
Me: Hi…I love your hoodie
Her: Hi (as she smiled) Thank you.
Me: I would love one, how is the fabric?
Her: It’s my favorite hoodie in my closet…
Rest is history.
Another thing that kept me going is this one person I can’t fail to mention Odari Gerald Angule this guy was heaven sent I thank God for him, he supported me when this was just an idea, he did the major Social media exposure and marketing before the account was even known and he still supports it and we work together.
How has it been like doing this alongside your academics? How did you strike a balance between the two?
Taking an Engineering course and running Home_254 is the most difficult thing I have ever had to do for the longest time, most times I felt like giving up but since I have passion for this I just could not give up.
My grades really went low because I missed a lot of classes and at times catching up was so difficult. So I had to involve my siblings, the one that has been my major support like taken care of things when I am not around is George Jura. My mind was at ease when he could make decisions like I would, this enabled my mind to be at ease did not have to come from Juja to town every single day to make deliveries.
What milestones can you say you have made in this business since you started?
I made 501 sales last financial year. I believe that is my biggest milestone and it was not easy because I did not know 96% of the clients who made the purchases. I also consider it a milestone that we are just one year and 2 months old, but I have managed to maintain my customer loyalty because of selling great products. For me it’s not all about the money it’s about the satisfaction of my clients. I have learnt to prioritize stuff and make good use of the 24hours that I have.
How have the resources earned from this helped you complement your student needs and requirements?
Let me just tell you the truth, my dad did not even know I run this business, why? Because I believed that if he knew then I would not get the 3k I used to get from him for my upkeep and the 6k for my bedsitter rent. But there was this time my dad was having difficulty in completing my school fees, so I paid my school fees but had to lie to him that it was bursary that I had applied for, hehe. I really did not want him to know I am in business. In my defense though, I took care, and still do, of all my upkeep and sometimes I think he wonders why I no longer ask him for money as I used to.
What has been your policy when it comes to financial management, both in your personal life and in business.
You know mahitaji ya Campus ni mengi, but I was used to surviving so I didn’t really spend much. I saved, and I still save more than what I spend. The only time I treat myself is when I win and when I win is when I reach my monthly sale target, which is not easy at all.
Would you say it is easy to start a business venture while still in Campus, and what can you cite as the greatest lessons learnt so far?
A big NO. It’s not easy at all. I started the business when I was on my 4th year, my grades were so ugly that year before I finally struck a balance. My biggest lesson was that don’t start a business because you have many friends or something along those lines. I am sorry to say this but only 2.8% of my friends have supported me, you might not believe me but that’s the sad truth.
Another lesson is that you really have to use money to get more money and once you get the more money, you have to put the more money back to the business. In short, starve yourself for your business. Our problem is that in Campus when we start making money we want to show off, which every budding entrepreneur must avoid.
Another reality is that negativity is so strong that if you cannot deal with it you will give up. You should not let people’s opinions bring you down. Yes you need their opinions but don’t let it get to your head. I worked so hard so as to disapprove them.
Lastly, there are sacrifices that you are not willing to make, but which you will have to make. Hanging out with friends, playing FIFA, alone times to work on you, living below your means even if you have the money. Surround yourself with people who dominate, people who add value to your vision.
Having completed your Degree, what plans do you currently have regarding your business as well as your Engineering profession?
As I wait for my graduation later this year, 97% of my time is dedicated to working on building my business to reach as many people as I can by selling. I am working so that when I am practicing profession, my business could actually be run without need for my physical presence.
What advice would you give to upcoming entrepreneurs who wish to try their hands at a business venture whiles still in Campus?
As today’s youth say get rich or die trying. They really shouldn’t take that attitude forward with them, you don’t have to show off what you have, though the life in campus may push you to, just resist it. Learn the habit of saving properly very early. In campus we have a lot of free time to balance both business and our studies so just create the time.