We would like to introduce our first #Braavheart: Severine Nijs. Thanks to her years of experience as a model and event manager, Severine successfully launched Jackie Lee in 2011. Soon after, a trusted team of colleagues made the match complete. In 2015 Jackie Lee got the attention of Trends magazine and awarded them the title of "laureate Trends Gazellen 2015". As an ambitious woman, Severine undoubtedly belongs to the #Braavheart community.
First of all, can you introduce yourself and what you do in a few sentences?
Hi, I'm Severine Nijs. Raised in Limburg, always enthusiastic and going for 'That Jackie Lee Smile on a daily base. In 2011 I started the Antwerp modeling agency, Jackie Lee. Nine years later, clients describe us as a matchmaker agency as we deliver much more than just a professional model. Jackie Lee is involved in the organization of (digital) fashion shows, webshop productions, and thinks along with the client throughout the creation process.
Do you have a quote/slogan which you live by?
How do you manage to maintain a healthy work/life balance?
With the arrival of my first baby, I had the hardest time: the evening rush from work to the nursery - making sure the fridge is full of fresh ingredients - absolutely wanting to try to take a splash bath with the baby while your mobile phone is constantly ringing - and of course, I always want to look good too. Not easy.
That's when I got the hang of it: this has to be different. During the day, I completely go for my job. When I come home in the evening I'm 100% MAMA and I play with the kids. Meanwhile, we know the good take-out restaurants and every weekend I cook 1.5 kilos of their favorite spaghetti sauce full of greens so I can just grab the freezer now and then. And it sometimes happens that at 11:30 pm I'm still dying my hair. But with good make-up, coffee, and a patient husband, I can do it all. Nothing like coming home and listening to the adventures of Céleste and Théo while we cuddle under a blanket.
My secret: grandparents who are fully committed every day and are at the school gate at 3.10 pm or are happy to come over on Friday at 6.30 am when one of the children is ill. Eternal gratitude 😊.
What is the ultimate relaxation for you?
It may sound odd, but... my morning drive to the office. Without traffic jams, it’s a twenty-minute drive, but with traffic jams, this can add up to an hour. Thanks to my Spotify-playlist this is my most creative moment of the day: I invent choreo's for fashion shows, I go over in my head in 'most urgent' to-do, and decide what needs to be tackled first, I find solutions for problems, etc. I use this as a moment to recharge completely.
I also started playing tennis with girlfriends a year ago. All my girlfriends have a busy career and always on the go. Sometimes it's, difficult not to lose sight of each other, therefore we combined sport and girl talk. I also do my best to keep my running routine of 12 km/week high but I sometimes fail in this. Can't have it all, right?
What brings you peace after a busy/hectic day?
A big hug from my kids. The best feeling on earth.
What are your professional goals for the future?
As an Antwerp modeling agency and great modeler, I was very proud to see that a large part of purebred Belgian fashion brands (#ikkoopbelgisch) are part of the client team of Jackie Lee.
Every day we juggle between multiple languages (NL - FR - ENG) and we would like to focus more on the international market in the long run. Each continent has different ways of working and I'm eager to discover them.
As a modeling agency, I also want to make a difference in the professionalism of our models who are also in daily contact with our clients. We focus a lot on diversity which is more alive today than ever before.
But first and foremost I am very grateful for where Jackie Lee stands now. A wonderful world full of contacts, refreshing projects, and great personalities: that gives me energy.
How do you combine this with your private life?
My husband is an entrepreneur himself. This makes us a sounding board for each other and we also understand when someone comes home later or has to go to a project at the weekend. So instead of going to 'the club' on a Saturday night, we enjoy eating with friends and taking the kids with us. Our weekends are also always about the kids and their many hobbies/talents.
If you could give a 1 (ultimate) tip to other ambitious women, what would it be?
Surround yourself with the right people. From whatever sector, no matter how young or old... from every conversation you learn something. Whether it's for your business or your household, learn to involve others.
Another tip: think before you start. There were 11 months between Jackie Lee's concept phase and the start. You must go over a financial plan, market research, and the likeability before you take the step. A visit to Unizo for their starter tool is definitely a must. They also help you to surround yourself with people who strengthen you.
Which book/podcast do you think is an absolute must-read/hear for our Braavheart community?
Podcast on Spotify: 50 coffees. Podcast for female entrepreneurs that highlights all kinds of topics.
I'm also a fan of https://www.womenonbusiness.com/ - named by Forbes as the top 100 websites for 'women in business'.
Who do you think should be featured in our #Braavhearts section?
Ine Verhaert from KAAI. Ine moved the fashion industry with her career at Veritas. In 2017 she decided to take the step towards female entrepreneurship and Kaai came to life: handbags for the active businesswoman.
If you have any particular questions or tips, Severine is always happy to answer all your possible entrepreneurial questions through her LinkedIn.