Olga Jackman, founder & CEO of Identity Design
“A lot of entrepreneurs, who have unique knowledge and expertise, fail because they make the same strategic mistake: they don’t have the foundation for their business – a personal brand.”
It’s a Friday afternoon when we meet Olga Jackman. We’re in South Kensington, an area of London formerly home to renowned creatives including Oscar Wilde, Beatrix Potter and Virginia Woolf, to learn more about Olga’s business Identity Design and the motivations behind her entrepreneurial journey.
Olga’s creativity speaks for itself; her pale elegant outfit underpins her personal brand, which also happens to be her business. Her company helps its clients create a powerful brand by tapping into the ambitions, capabilities, and skills at their heart, to enable them to reach their full potential.
Born in Ukraine, which at the time, was part of the Soviet Union, Olga found it difficult to express herself in a country rooted in communism. She explains: “It was a very dark time for the country, because it was a communist country where you couldn’t talk about what you thought or about what you wanted. You weren’t allowed to think and have your own ideas.
“My parents were communists and decided that I should be a piano player. So, between the ages of five and 20, I would play piano for around five to eight hours per day, every day. Unfortunately, I didn't have much of a childhood, but I did have a grand piano! It wasn’t easy, but this is how I know what it is to work hard. If you want to achieve something, you really need to work hard.”
Despite this, at the age of 20 and after graduating as a professional pianist, Olga decided to rebel against her parents and forge a career as a fashion designer.
“As a child, I always knew what I wanted to do. I remember when I was in Kindergarten and they gave me a pair of scissors. It was my first lesson on how to hold and cut with them. This was when the magic happened. I can even remember the smell of the fabric that we used, the colour; it was the most beautiful pattern.”
Despite not having any formal training, Olga would design and make clothes for herself and other people in her spare time. “I would organise plays and theatre productions and create the costumes for them. My grandmother worked as a director of a huge department store and was very supportive. She would always say: ‘Olga, never give up and always follow your dream’.” And so the creative was born.
Although Olga’s first fashion collection failed, it was a learning experience for her: “I came to the UK in a very challenging time, because my country was in a war with Russia. I completely lost my businesses, my friends and my country. It wasn’t easy and I still feel very emotional about this topic, but I think these kinds of lessons in life make us stronger.
“I know that I have passion, a lot of potential and I know that I'm a really strong person. I know that if I did it before, I can do it again. This is why I know that I will be successful again.”
Speaking from this experience, Olga says: “A lot of entrepreneurs, who have unique knowledge and expertise, fail because they make the same strategic mistake: they don’t have the foundation for their business – a personal brand.”
One of the big challenges of being an entrepreneur, she says, is being gentle to yourself. “If you’re an entrepreneur, everything is your responsibility. That’s why I think you should celebrate even the tiniest achievement and not punish yourself for the mistakes that you make along the way. You should wake up every morning and think, ‘I can do this,’ and, ‘I will do every day the best what I can do for myself and for people who are around’.”
Digging further into this mentality, fuelled by her desire to help other entrepreneurs, Olga undertook training in coaching, psychology, and neuroscience: “I really want to help people in fostering and creating beauty and internal harmony.
This is how my idea of Identity Design began, helping people understand their essence and their core, and what can help them to be happy. After that we use these insights to construct their beautiful business around them, their surroundings, and their lives.”
Olga is also a firm believer in surrounding herself with the right people, “You can do anything by you want to do, but every single person in my life has made me the woman who I'm now. I consider everyone as my mentor.
“I believe that having a mentor is essential to the success of any entrepreneur; after all, you cannot achieve success all by yourself.”
Despite being driven by a creative purpose of her own design, Olga’s main aim however, is simply happiness. “My future is to be happy. I want to achieve happiness. That's it, nothing else. Just happiness for myself, for my family, and for people around me.”
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