With an eye for design, Jenny Yang is all about making sure women feel empowered and confident.
This month’s That Girl is the energetic and ambitious Jenny Yang. She pairs her background in image consulting and marketing with her passion for design. Her brand, JENNYANG, features gorgeous heels with the promise of “elevating your journey”. She tells us about meaningful milestones for her company, shares her favourite ways to stay grounded and opens up about her personal goals for this year. With a focus on image consulting, Jenny uses style as a tool to support women in channelling extra confidence in their day to day, helping to add a little extra pep in their step.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you lived in Hong Kong?
I was born in a remote city in China’s Anhui province, well known for its “Yellow Mountains”, a popular tourist destination with scenic views. I grew up in an educated family, where both my parents were teachers. I remember when I was just a young girl how my mom told me: “you should embrace your dreams and fly as far as you can go. We will always support you.” These words and my fortunate upbringing encouraged me to move out of that village to see the world.
After graduating from college, I began my career in hospitality by working at the five-star Hilton hotel. Later, I served as a corporate brand ambassador for a UK company based in Shanghai, before I worked as a VP for a high-end jockey club, travelling between Shanghai and the UK. This is where I extensively built up my professional network.
In 2015, I was trained by one of the world’s leading image consultation companies, where I became the first Asian image consultant based in London. My passion for design grew so, whilst working, I was also taking courses in Central Saint Martins in fashion design and marketing.
In 2016 I moved to Hong Kong to continue to explore the Asian market, pursuing my ambitions and dreams.
You’re the co-founder of JENNYANG, can you tell us a little more about the company?
I established my company in 2015, whilst I was in London. The original focus was image consultancy, providing training to individuals and corporations. My clients came from all different backgrounds, including doctors, lawyers, university students and corporate managers. I also worked with famous brands such as Burberry where I offered fashion and image advice to their VIP customers. The feedback from a satisfied client left me very happy and proud of myself. I could see through their eyes that they had become more confident with their new image and they were looking forward to the future.
Since moving back to Hong Kong in 2016, I have focused on fashion consulting and have been invited to more than 15 cities, including London and China to present workshops. I was blown away to find thousands of people attending and leaving inspired. Many attendees later became brand followers. I decided to further develop my own brand, and established companies both in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Our Shanghai office opened most recently and we now have different design teams and business development teams, who are world class and come from Italy, China, USA and France. A big part of my job now, apart from focusing on JY heel design, involves looking for great talent to join us.
What encouraged you to start JENNYANG? What keeps you inspired?
I’m mostly inspired by friends, family and clients. Simply having people in your life who like and support your own personal style can encourage you to share that part of you with others. They have given me the confidence to grow the business, travelling extensively across Europe and Asia.
After having clients regularly ask me where to buy clothes like the ones I wear myself, I decided that it was time to bring out by own range under the JENNYANG brand, to fully represent my taste, style and aesthetics, while encompassing my knowledge of the relationship between image and colour.
In particular this is the case with shoes. I have travelled to many different countries, but I realised how difficult to is to find a pair of elegant, luxurious, comfortable (and also affordable) high heels.
The JENNYANG brand is focused on middle to upper class women, who are looking for a pair of simple, classic, elegant heels but which are also comfortable to wear. They can easily match any outfit and elevate any occasion, in any season.
There’s so much that comes with starting a new company. Can you share your most meaningful milestone?
Building a company from scratch is obviously an exciting challenge – a balance of quick decision making and long-term planning. But of course, you can’t win if you don’t try.
A key milestone for me was when my shoes were first displayed in the Four Seasons hotel in Beijing, aligning the JENNYANG brand with the luxury market. The launch of the “Nu Shu” was also a turning point, with lots of excitement from the market, especially on social media, all of which led to significant sales. This helped build confidence that I am on the right track and that there is a good chance that there is a long successful road ahead.
What does a typical week look like for you?
Much like other entrepreneurs, for me, there isn’t much difference between weekday and weekends. I’m often travelling, visiting hotel clients and high-end boutiques, or visiting designers in Italy. I tend to work pretty late into the evening – which is fine as I’m definitely not a morning person!
What are three things you do in your downtime?
- It might sound strange, but I actually love tidying up – I pay as much attention to the image of my home as I do to my personal image.
- I spend a lot of time reading, often business related, but recently I’ve been getting into philosophy and psychology.
- I also try to keep fit and hit the gym a few times a week.
What are three things you do to maintain work-life balance in your day-to-day?
- I try to get out of the city and go hiking in Hong Kong’s amazing countryside.
- I also make sure I am regularly meeting friends to keep me grounded.
- And to balance my hectic lifestyle I’ve started studying meditation and mindfulness.
We love that JENNYANG’s products are made by women for women. Can you tell us a little about your team?
One reason my shoes are becoming so popular is my background working in corporates, so as a woman I know better than many shoe business founders that it’s so important to have shoes that not only look good, but also that feel great. They really can change your life!
In the past 18 months, I have focused on my product with all my energy, working closely with my shoe masters, and all my shoes are hand made with premium leather selected globally. I have great team partners in both Italy and China, with over 100 years of shoe-making experience.
I am extremely picky with every tiny detail as I only want perfect products. I’m really happy with my management team too – my new COO has 20 years of experience in the luxury market, so we’ll be a great partnership, and I’m already looking forward to the future of JENNYANG’s development.
What are 5 personal goals you have for this year?
- Eat a vegetarian diet at least 5 days per week
- Run a 10k race
- Read two books per month
- Achieve JENNYANG’s 100th shoe colour
- Visit New York
When you’re not wearing JENNYANG, what’s your favourite footwear?
Especially in summer in Hong Kong, I wear flipflops, haha!
How do you envision JENNYANG growing in the next 1, 5, 10 years?
I can see JY growing very fast, expanding into new geographies, with both an online and offline presence. I’m also on the lookout for investors to support the next exciting phase of growth.
If you had one piece of advice to give to aspiring entrepreneurs out there, what would it be?
Work with great people and experienced advisors (while also trusting your own instincts).