We catch up with fashion designer Jessica Baah to talk mornings with her four-year-old son Elijah, what it’s like to be a single mum, juggling a 9-5 job with running her own business and missing her family in Ghana…
Jessica Baah, 27, is a womenswear fashion designer whose designs have been featured in Black Beauty Magazine. She’s collaborated with L’Oreal’s Mizani haircare, styled the CEO Dancers (who appeared on X-Factor in 2013) and Ghanaian actress Joselyn Dumas. She’s also had a show at Africa’s Fashion Week. She studied architecture before fashion. She lives in south London with her four-year-old son Elijah.
What’s your home/home life like?
I keep a beautiful home. I decorated this house from scratch so every detail is thought out. Very airy, fresh, cosy yet spacious with whites and metallic as a running theme. I can afford to have all white walls and even furniture because my son is very good at clearing his things away after play and before bed. He’s not the draw on a wall and put pizza stains on the furniture type of child.
Elijah’s double bedroom is bigger than mine so he can have all the space he needs to grow and create and play… I think this is very important. Mid week it starts to clutter (only ever so slightly) but by Saturday we have everything clean – he insists on wiping all the glass areas and me doing everything else.
What time are you up in the morning?
What wakes you up?
Usually my alarm. That means it’s time to get my son ready for school and then myself for work.
How do you feel?
Energetic and tired at the same time… does that make sense?
What do you do first thing?
We pray then play fight (to get him out of his slumber) then proceed to get ready to leave the house.
In three words, describe mornings in your home?
What’s for breakfast?
He loves an adult portion of Coco Pops. I am not a breakfast person so I normally just drink juice.
How might the rest of your day pan out?
Work work work.
Consultations and fabric hunting then back at 3.15pm to pick Elijah up, feed him, then back to studio till 6 (maybe) then home. Each day is very different to be honest. My mum is two-minute walk from my studio so she is a great help with her only grandchild.
What’s your workspace like?
My work place is my second home so very hectic at times, it’s where I thrive, it’s where I get to do what I love… be creative and create.
Where is Elijah when you’re working?
Tell us about your business…
I started the business four years ago after I gave birth to my son. It’s something I have always wanted to do and God moved the universe around for me at that particular time that so it just seemed perfect. I knew I had something to offer to the industry. I was part of a separate brand with my son’s Godmother (she’s an architect and we studied architecture together in school, she is currently establishing a firm called BEEDZN whilst studying) and then started my independent brand two years ago.
What’s the greatest challenge when running your own business?
Being just one person and not being able to do everything you want to do. I get tired like everyone else but nothing gets done if I don’t do it.
What makes it all worthwhile?
Seeing my creativity come alive, seeing the images that clients send back, progression and getting closer to my ultimate dream.
Are there aspects of your role that you delegate to others?
I do everything myself.
Are you a happy lone worker, or do you enjoy the buzz of a shared workspace?
I would love a dream team. I am working on making this happen. I would love to have admin staff/social media etc so I could concentrate on the creative side.
What’s the secret to career success?
Perseverance – every time you feel like you can’t go on or do any more and you do it anyways… you’ve already won.
Is the juggle real for you… do you find it difficult balancing motherhood/ relationship/me-time/time for friends/career?
Juggling is a real effort and skill (a PA would be nice). I take my Sundays very seriously – my son needs to get out of the house so we get going early in the morning. Our days together are just golden.
Describe an ideal weekend…
Waking up 9 instead of 6 would be amazing! Taking time to actually wake up and lounge around knowing we do not have to go anywhere anytime soon. LITERALLY spending the day in (I’m boring, I know, but these things are taken for granted by others, something I hardly ever get to do).
If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
In Ghana in my nan’s room! I miss home and my son has never been.
Any future ventures?
Many! The ultimate goal is to be doing this instead of my 9-5 in Chelsea (working for the council). The dream is to own stores that run themselves and to have a studio for the very exclusive pieces… the dream is not to be designing all day every day unless I really need to. I also plan to release a ready-to-wear range every year, and to reach out to potential celebrity clients.