Jovian Mandagie on never saying "never" in business and entrepreneurship
Fashion designer, F&B entrepreneur, motivational speaker -- Jovian Mandagie does it all by never limiting himself and by being constantly unafraid to try new things.
The name Jovian Mandagie is a staple of its own in the local Malaysian fashion scene.
The self-made designer who burst onto the scene only 8 years ago has seen such growth and success in his short time in the industry that today, it not only owns a 2-storey bungalow showroom along Jalan Maarof, undisputedly one of KL’s busiest roads, but also a 5-storey JM Tower in Shah Alam that serves as the headquarters of the brand.
More is in store for the brand as we soon found out. The brand also has, under its Jovian Mandagie umbrella, a new chain of restaurants – ROA by Jovian Mandagie – which specialty in Manadonese cuisine has garnered it a strong following. Despite being only in business less than a year, it has already 3 outlets covering Shah Alam to downtown KL and, with the opening of the latest one, Bangsar.
What could have spurred a fashion designer to branch out into the F&B industry?
ROA by Jovian Mandagie
"I started out in fashion, yes,” divulges the fashion entrepreneur simply, “and now that it is doing quite well, I am branching out into food.”
“I won’t call this transition from fashion to F&B a shifting,” reflects Mandagie further. “It is more of an expansion of the wing of Jovian Mandagie to now include F&B.”
ROA by Jovian Mandagie, named after the Roa fish that is a specialty in Manado, Indonesia, was born from the entrepreneur’s own love for food.
“With the restaurant, I want diners to experience a taste of Jovian Mandagie hospitality and experience the Jovian Mandagie touch from food to ambience to the environment of the restaurant.”
Unknown to many, Mandagie’s background actually lies in architecture and interior design, a love that he studied in university and one that translates to every aspect of his stylishly designed office where we had our interview.
With the restaurant, every aspect from the furniture and interior, the layout and food menu was seen to by Mandagie himself. He started the chain with the same never-say-never fearlessness as he did with his fashion label.
“Opening the restaurant was a big challenge at the beginning,” he admits. “People asked me why I would I want to dilute my fashion name with food. I said if you brand it well as a respectable restaurant, you don’t lose anything.”
"I am a trial-and-error entrepreneur"
It is that exact tenacity and courage that has gotten him so far. He has never once felt afraid when taking on a new business venture, he reveals.
“Whether with fashion or business, I love to experiment with new things. I love to challenge myself,” he says with an unmistakable determination in his voice. “When you push your creativity, that’s when you learn how far you can actually go.”
He has had his fair share of challenges. In fact, he credits his success to plenty of trial-and-error experiences that he has had to learn the hard way.
“I grew so fast because of my mistakes,” he says. “I am an trial-and-error entrepreneur. I had no background in business, I didn’t study it, I do not have mentor from whom I could learn. I relied everything on common sense. Everything I learnt to date is based on experience. “
It helps that he is a very adaptive person by nature. Any unfavourable circumstance that gets thrown his way is quickly given its due attention and turned around to work in his favour whenever possible.
“Entrepreneurship lies heavily in how fast you react to circumstances. If you don’t spot opportunities and react fast, you’ll definitely lose out,” he says of the matter. “I’ve come to a point where if there are issues, I know immediately the best way to tackle them because I’ve gone through the worst times countless times.”
He goes as far as to say that he has gotten used to crises, something that he, without a doubt, faces on a daily basis given the 150-odd workers he has working for him.
“The key to success is that you should always find the positive aspect to everything,” he shares. “Whatever problems come my way, I don’t see it as a problem, I see it as a positive thing that I can learn from. When there are issues, I focus on turning things around so it works in my favour.”
"Whatever I do, I want to contribute"
Just when it seems Mandagie cannot load any more onto his plate, he reveals that there is indeed more.
Aside from his fashion label and the restaurant, there is another division to the Jovian Mandagie brand. The multi-tasker gives motivational and leadership talks on the side under the JM Corporate brand, based on his own experience in entrepreneurship among others. That arm of the company also provides uniform design, event hosting, and brand consultancy, banking in on all that Mandagie has expertise in.
“Whatever I do, I want to contribute,” shares Mandagie. “ I’m not perfect and I have a lot to learn but I want to help people where ever I can. “
The people he has working for him also serves as big motivation.
“What keeps me moving everyday is making sure that every month I make enough to pay every single one of my employees," he tells. “ I’m not only paying 150 people, but 150 families. Their wives and kids their family are affected. If I fail to meet ends, what will happen to them? That is a huge responsibility. That’s what motivates me everyday.”
With his infectious energy and positive enthusiasm to just keep creating opportunities for himself and those around him, he reveals that next on the list is a Jovian Homes line, a tribute to his own love for the one thing that started it all for him -- interior design.
It would seem that there is no stopping this fashion designer cum food entrepreneur cum motivational speaker cum family man.
“I don’t think I will ever stop,” he states. “Although it is part of the plan to retire early, I really don’t know when I will slow down.”
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