Jaylan Fraser-Mines ’21

Janji, Somerville, MA

As an intended chemistry major, many people found it surprising that I wanted to work at a clothing brand this summer. I spent a majority of my internship at Janji marketing, communicating with customers, and analyzing customer data. This appears far flung from the rigors of a chemistry lab, and it is, but that was a major reason I wanted to pursue an internship at Janji in the first place.

Jaylan’s last day of work with Janji co-founder, Mike, and designer Conner.
Jaylan’s last day of work with Janji co-founder, Mike, and designer Conner.

Janji is a relatively new brand, having started about six years ago. I worked closely with the three full time employees at Janji and it’s obvious that they care deeply about their business; they work with great attention to detail and treat their customers with genuine care. I frequently heard that the goal was to make the customers’ “favorite running apparel.”

The people at Janji want to create quality products and form a community among Janji customers. They’re supporting clean water through their sales but they don’t display that at the forefront of their brand. They are a running brand that develops gear for a sport that continues to make a positive impact on the world.

With only three full time employees at Janji, I got to work closely with a small, yet incredibly friendly and welcoming, team. During my first day at work, they let me sit in on their meetings, showed me around, and answered any questions I had about the online programs I was using. They also pay close attention to detail and are always challenging their own ideas. During the last week of my internship, I got to take part in an offsite meeting in which we discussed broad goals and ideas for the brand. I enjoyed spending my summer at the Janji office with the Janji team, as they are funny, kind, and gracious to give me important projects to tackle.

This summer, I was responsible for the membership program at Janji. The program, Janji Collective, gives customers a free t-shirt and early access to new styles for their contribution of $50 to support Splash.org. My responsibilities with the program included generating customer lists based on area or spending patterns, then reaching out to those customers to invite them to join the Collective. Once they had joined, I would make sure they are part of the Facebook group, send them their welcome package, and communicate with them through email. I would test subject lines and calculate the difference in spending of customers that had joined the Collective.

Throughout the summer, I worked on smaller projects like organizing the wholesale orders, creating Pinterest advertisements, contributing at design meetings, and testing new products. I learned a lot about what it takes to start an apparel brand, including aspects of marketing, design, and time management.

Janji stands out among its competitors in the running apparel world through their contributions to clean water projects around the globe. Janji works on a two-season schedule, with a spring/summer collection and a fall/winter collection. Each collection is inspired by a different country, with patterns from local artists and colorways that reflect the country’s scenery and well known architecture. The photos that they use to market that season are shot in that country and, at the conclusion of the season, 5% of the sales are donated to a local organization in the inspiration country that provides clean water to communities. For example, this past season was inspired by Uganda, and Janji worked with Evidence Action in Kampala.

Off to send some Janji Collective welcome packages in the mail!
Off to send some Janji Collective welcome packages in the mail!

However, as I mentioned before, their mission to provide clean water abroad is not at the forefront of their branding. They focus much more heavily on connecting communities around the world, showcasing artwork from global artists, and fostering a community around the Janji brand. Janji could easily advertise heavily that they donate to clean water to gain consumer support. Rather, they are aiming to be known as a unique running brand that also has a mission to provide clean water to people around the world.

I find this branding decision admirable in a wider context, because it is a model that any type of company could adopt. A brand does not need to market itself as charitable to make a positive impact. Rather, brands can use their positions to fund projects that they believe in.

What I found most surprising about my internship at Janji was that I was surrounded by young professionals, an age group I’ve had very little time interacting with before this summer. I was constantly meeting young people who have their own businesses and are pursuing their passions. This was inspiring and incredibly motivating. I came into this internship with an interest in starting my own business in the future, but still had doubts about whether I could make that a reality. My time at Janji was a complete immersion into a start-up running apparel brand that is still growing. What I loved most about the people at Janji is that they were always questioning and challenging their own ideas. If they found success in a marketing campaign or sales of a particular style, they didn’t make any assumptions of how they found that success. They looked at data and did their best to learn from both their lows and their highs. Although my day to day tasks were not always the most interesting or exciting, completing projects and being able to see how they contribute to Janji as a whole was rewarding and motivated me to do my best work.

Since coming to Janji, I have gained a lot of confidence in myself and my ability to find success as an entrepreneur, in large part because I was able to learn so much from my co-workers at Janji. After eleven weeks, I am more confident in my ability and desire to start my own business. I learned that it’s valuable to reach out to others for advice and feedback, which is something I will continue to do at Williams and in my future career. As far as my path of study goes, I am even more interested in studying Chemistry and Materials Science to develop more sustainable textiles. Janji does a great job using lasting materials, but the process of making those textiles is not inherently sustainable. I’d love to find a way to improve the process of making clothes by creating materials that are better for the environment.

My internship at Janji would not have been possible without the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and my ASIP sponsor, Mr. William F. McCalpin ’79. I am incredibly grateful for their support in making my internship at Janji possible. I had an amazing summer working and learning at Janji and know that it will have a great influence on my future.