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Women Shaping Design: Jana Leonard

As we continue to celebrate women’s month, we are inspired by Jana Leonard, founder of Baskiti.Co who managed to capture our attention with her practical approach to design

By Thobeka Phanyeko  | August 11, 2021 | Design

H&G: Please talk us through your entrepreneurial journey?

JL: I want to believe that my entrepreneurial journey started when I was very young, making and selling greeting cards to our neighbours for extra money, but it wasn’t until 4 years ago when I launched JL Brand Communicators (previously Jack & Jill Communications) with the aim of providing PR to small businesses in the lifestyle consumer market that the bite really bit. However, I never knew I was a full-blown entrepreneur until I launched The Baskiti Co. a year ago - specialising in a beautiful storage solution that make sense. We are your minimalist homeware store! Since then, I have grown both businesses and launched another one with my very good friend, Ricci, called Messages for Mama - a range of baby accessories with embroidered messages of encouragement for Mamas out there.

H&G: What inspired the name Baskiti?

JL: Baskiti, loosely translated, means basket in Shona, the native tongue of our kids’ nanny. She is an absolute gem and an inspiration to many. It was her absence during Lockdown V1 1 year ago that inspired The Baskiti Co. I wanted to include her in our journey! She is so invested, it’s amazing.

H&G: What's your approach to design?

JL: It needs to make sense. My husband always says, why have something pretty if it doesn’t do the thing, you need it to do? Therefore, our designs are beautiful, aesthetically pleasing and honestly, get the job done. That’s always my approach to life and my other business - JL Brand Communicators. Do what works, a creative concept needs to make sense to the end-user / customer - same goes for design.

H&G: What inspires you?

JL: Honestly, my family. Becoming a mom changes you. How I manage and prioritise my time is very important to me and in order to achieve the level of flexibility I want I have to work very hard in the hours (day/night) I have available. I aspire to be the best human I can be - kind, understanding, hardworking and when the opportunity presents itself - assertive. I want to be my kids’ role model when they grow up. Whenever I make a decision, I always ask - will my family be proud of me?

H&G: As the world continues to shift, how have your priorities changed?

JL: I think my priorities changed the moment I became a mom almost 3 years ago. You no longer only do it for yourself, but you do to inspire, to create a teachable moment, to give them everything you can to make their moment incredible. Kids are incredible, they teach us to be kind, forgiving, understanding and to enjoy the small things in life - something as simple as running bare feet on wet grass. One of my biggest goals in life is to show our kids the magic in travelling, meeting new people and learning from them. Because COVID hasn’t allowed us to do this as much as we’d like to (internationally), we now prefer to travel locally and to get ‘away from it all quite often.

H&G: What's your message to women in business this women's month?

JL: You are capable, and you can do it! if you fail - know that you tried.

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Interior Designers