Meet Abaynesh Jembere, owner of the fashionable Jembere Eyewear brand.
Jembere first fell in love with sunglasses after landing a job in the eyewear industry. After working in brand management for almost a decade; for a list of established retailers, Jembere was faced with an unexpected layoff that led to her serendipitous journey into entrepreneurship. The small business owner and Sudan native, has spent the last year developing a company that exudes style, culture, and contains a charitable initiative.
BlackEnterprise.com caught up with Jembere to talk her transition into entrepreneurship, the importance of the brand’s charity, and her biggest obstacle thus far.
BlackEnterprise.com: Tell me a little about yourself. How old are you and where are you from?
Jembere: I am 34 years old and I am Ethiopian. The quick story is, my parents left Ethiopia for refuge in Sudan in the late 70’s. I was born in Sudan on a refugee camp, immigrated to America when I was 2 years old; with my father, mother and older brother, and after a few years of living in San Jose, we ended up in Seattle, where I grew up.
How did you get into the design/eyewear industry? Where did you gain your brand experience?
I left Seattle to attend Drexel University’s design and merchandising program. Upon graduation, I moved to New York where I landed a job with an eyewear company. I always thought I would work in the apparel industry, but when I started working with sunglasses, I immediately fell in love. I spent about 8 years working as a brand and product manager, where I worked with a list of brands and retailers. It was an exciting career. I gained experience in many levels of the industry.
[Related: Charles Barkley to Donate Millions to Charity, Higher Ed]
What was your big entrepreneurial ‘aha’ moment?
My ‘aha’ moment came from a bit of a setback. I was very unexpectedly laid off a few years ago and the thought of looking for a new job was mortifying. Jobs were scarce and my experience was very specific to a particular industry. I realized during that time that if I was ever going to go follow my dreams of being an entrepreneur, now was the time. So, I went for it.
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