Over the years, Jennifer Elliot (Masters in General Management, 2008) has consciously looked for her ‘Ikigai’ – the Japanese secret for a long and happy life – which includes work that you like and are good at. Her search has led her to create her own jewellery label: Elliot & Ostrich.
Jennifer started out by studying Law, with 2 years of specialisation in Corporate Law. After rounding out her education with the Vlerick Masters, she worked for 10 years as a Marketing expert in large corporate environments.
Jennifer Elliot: “I do have an atypical career path. Up until Vlerick, I made choices that were driven by what I thought I should do. I was looking at myself through the eyes of the people around me: my parents, schoolteachers, and so on. I also made choices based on challenging myself. But never really based on fun!
“So I studied Law as a way to develop myself, without really intending to become a lawyer. Then, for the first time, I made a decision based on intuition and desire: I decided to do the Vlerick Masters!
“Going to Vlerick was like coming home in a way. It was the first time I was really excited about subjects I was studying: marketing, entrepreneurship, innovation! There was a lot of teamwork and interaction with my fellow participants and the faculty. I learned a lot about myself and my strengths at Vlerick. Which also built my self-confidence.
“I then decided to go into Marketing, where I gained a lot of experience in brand management. I’ve always had the feeling that I’m an entrepreneur – but I thought you had to have a game-changing idea or invention to go that route.
“I was looking to do something meaningful and make an impact. Bit by bit, inspirations started to come. It dawned on me how significant I found making jewellery to be. Because the buying process can make us more aware of the present moment, the people around us, and how life is evolving, jewellery is perfect for celebrating the meaningful moments of life.”
Jennifer founded Elliot & Ostrich in 2018. The ostrich, by the way, refers to her South African roots. In African tradition, the ostrich is the bearer of visions and dreams, a symbol of awakening, positivity, femininity, empowerment and authenticity. Values that are central to her company’s philosophy.
Along the way to finding her Ikigai, Jennifer launched MizBiz – a network for connecting, inspiring and empowering women to become the best version of themselves. “MizBiz came from my personal need to connect with other women. We started with one event, which was positioned to be more of a total experience than a business conference. And now we have 1000 members across all kinds of seniorities and industries.”
She’s also a member of the Vlerick Alumni Entrepreneurship Club. “The Vlerick Alumni give you a certain connection or bond, even with alumni you haven’t studied with. Someone in my network asked me to take part in the Entrepreneurship Club. I jumped at the opportunity because there aren’t too many chances to network with fellow entrepreneurs, let alone in the context of the Vlerick community. I met a very influential mentor, who inspired me in a difficult company transformation. I would never have met this person if I had not been in the Entrepreneurship Club.
“I dreamed of following my passion – and not having a work life and a private life, but having a full life that encompasses my career. And I prepared myself well, with a business case, financial plan, and so on. At Vlerick, you’re encouraged to dream, backed by sound analysis. Taking all things together, Vlerick was transformational for me.”
Would you also like to network with and learn from other alumni, just like Jennifer? Discover all the advantages that our Alumni Clubs have to offer.