Even though Meesh and I started working on "our project" months ahead of Jobedu’s debut at Amman’s summer Friday Market Souq JARA, the brand came to life when it met the public. As people wandered by our stall, they glanced and smirked at the witty slogans on t-shirts, nudging their friends to share in the laugh. Standing there behind our main acts for hours on end, we saw time and time again the moments of happiness our work gave passerbys. It catalyzed a chain reaction that would define our next decade and the years to come. It was a public reception that made it all worth it. The 17-hour workday pushing two jobs, the weekend-less weeks, dealing with suppliers’ elastic delivery dates, and all the effort in between all made sense that day. The why. And since then our goal has been to create as many such moments through Jobedu as possible by working with designers to curate the coolest artworks on well-designed products with the best service we can provide.
What we set out to do was extremely irrational. We had neither the know-how nor capital. But we were bent on making it happen. We decided we’ll figure it out as we go and put all we earn back in the company, to finance the learning curve.
Over the past 10 years, a staff of 2 became 33. A Friday stall became 2 stores, regional distribution, and international online service. T-shirts became t-shirts, hoodies, posters, caps, sketchbooks, stickers, keychains, pillows with an expanding product line. Merchmallow, a Jobedu Inc subsidiary, came to existence to offer anybody who values affordable quality merchandise for their brand. And more failures than I can list.
Countless battle scars tell tales of the effort behind the stats:
- Opening our first store in 2009 and waiting 12 months to afford the sign. The joy of looking at that multicolor pop art collage store signage being put up at Lweibdeh 1 year later. After 3 years and many selfies later, our store sign suddenly became in violation of a new municipality regulation and the store will be shut down within 7 days if the signage doesn't come down. At the end they allowed us to retain the upside down yellow U, but the pop art had to go.
- Being forced to switch suppliers overnight first after the civil war outbreak in Syria when we moved production to India. Less than two years later we had to switch again after being slapped with a spontaneous customs increase on imported apparel. Doing so while maintaining a public perception of the brand.
- Receiving a shipment of kids hoodies only to find that the supplier messed up the collar opening and made it way too small. Needing to solve the issue ASAP because the supplier was already 10 days late and by the time we afforded to pay the downpayment we were 2 months late in placing the order and had no bank financing to leverage. Converting 1,500 pieces from hoodies to zip-ups and running with communication for the season.
- Going to India for final pre-shipping inspection only to find out that every t-shirt was cut with a 1 cm deeper collar. And later on, being thrown back by the supplier’s clever solution to salvage 90% of the shipment by restitching every piece 1 size down and repeating 2 sizes (XS and 3X) to fix the problem and make it in time for shipping.
Our battle scars are also our merit badges. Needless to say, ‘flexible’ is first on the list of attributes that define our team. Doing what must be done to overcome concurrent challenges while maintaining and growing what’s been built. Our currency has always been time and effort and a ton of it was invested in every corner of Jobedu over the past decade, amassing a wealth of industry knowledge and insight shared among a team that’s been there on the front lines. Getting better at doing what they do and adding to the foundation. A team dedicated to the original mission: spreading joy in all we do.
Even though we move forward with the mission to grow we will always and vividly remember the very first people who became Jobedu fans back when we had just started learning the ropes. Some bring their kids to the store today and tell them how long they’ve known us. The customers who ended up being lifelong friends and supporters. Some were high schoolers when they visited our stall back then and now run a part of Jobedu. The community that grew out of a Friday stall in Amman that sold t-shirts.
To the many many many people who shaped Jobedu into what it is today, thank you for an awesome decade, and stay tuned.