Interview with Jennifer Chamandi
Jennifer Chamandi Boghossian is a British shoe designer of Lebanese origin who launched her brand, Jennifer Chamandi, in 2016. Recognised for her signature styles around the world that place equal emphasis on elegance and strength.
In 2022, Jennifer introduced Le 8 handbag. An ode to grace and precision, the design is inspired by the structure of an envelope, referencing Jennifer’s love for the often forgotten art of the handwritten note.
Anna Freud and Jennifer are on a joint mission to empower communities to overcome mental health challenges in order not just to survive but thrive. 10% of the proceeds of every bag sale via her website will go directly to Anna Freud.
1. What achievement in life are you most proud of?
That’s a big question. The instant answer is becoming a mother to my twin daughters. I once read you heal childhood wounds through motherhood because your children become your biggest teachers. I have certainly grown and developed the most as a person by becoming a mother.
But that achievement is closely followed by my brand. Launched only ten days before giving birth, it feels like another child, one that I have grown and nurtured at the same time as my girls. Born out of a childhood dream, when I would wear my mother’s shoes.
2. Why did you first decide to support Anna Freud?
The work resonated with me so much. At the time it was the fifth birthday of my children and the brand and I was reflecting on the importance of the early years. Hearing about your work and how the first five years are so crucial for a child’s future came at exactly the right time! I felt compelled to help.
We were launching the bag and I really wanted to place even more purpose behind it. To me this bag and our support of Anna Freud encapsulates our mission. We always say that we design for the women that inspire to empower, and this is exactly what Anna Freud does.
3. Why does mental wellbeing matter to you and would you mind sharing some of the ways you support your own wellbeing?
I can’t emphasise enough how important mental health is. My daughters were born prematurely, and I thought that was the norm because it was my first pregnancy, but coming back home for a month without them really hit me. It taught me so much about myself, my resilience and adaptability.
During the week, I carve out time to do inner energy work, and it’s like going to the gym because the brain is a muscle too. I set the discipline to practice it and I see it reflected in my business and in the way I interact with everyone, from clients to suppliers.
I firmly believe it should be taught in schools, and I do it now with my children.
I’m very happy to share some of the ways I support my wellbeing because some may resonate with people. I didn’t start with all of them, they came gradually. My first approach was Reiki, a type of energy healing that balances you and helps process trauma and suppressed emotions. I also study Kabbalah, an ancient wisdom that teaches principles of life, and how to elevate your consciousness to access the power within you. I started also working with a hypnotherapist for guided meditation to remove inner emotional and mental blockages. Finally, I work with an Emotion Code teacher who helps me release trapped emotions and break free from limiting beliefs.
I do this hand in hand with running my business. It allows me to become a better parent, a better wife, a better leader and the best version of myself. Since I’ve started working on my mental health, I’ve seen a huge shift in my self-esteem and behaviours that I didn’t know were limiting me, like for example imposter syndrome because I didn’t come from the fashion industry, and we all have of our own set of challenges to overcome.
4. What do you hope to achieve through our partnership?
I would love to raise awareness of the work Anna Freud does because it’s simply incredible, which I can’t emphasise enough! Working to positively impact someone for the rest of their life is so meaningful and I want to highlight this to the world.
The ultimate objective is to be part of a solution for an issue close to my heart, and one I really believe in. I design for the ‘Woman On A Mission’, and it’s these women who effect change around the world. These women need to know about Anna Freud and I make sure they do.
I always discuss Anna Freud’s work with clients, so they know we are part of something bigger by empowering women and children around the world.
5. Why is giving back/philanthropy important to you?
I've received so many blessings through the journey of launching my brand, so I felt I needed to create a circuitry – receive and then share. During the pandemic, we had our first sample sale, where we donated the proceeds to the NHS maternity ward and NICU, because it was personal to me, but I didn’t want that to be a one-off. I aspire to live a life of purpose and giving back is one aspect. With this interview, if I can make a positive impact on even just one person, then it’s fulfilled its purpose.
6. How would you describe our work, and why should organisations consider supporting Anna Freud?
Children are the future, and your work is investing in that future. The biggest benefit is you support the whole ecosystem around a child, which has a ripple effect of knowledge-sharing throughout communities. You’re shedding a light on mental health which is a founding principle for a better world.
I visited the Pears Family School, and the teachers are incredible. I spoke to some of the parents, and it allows them to feel they’re not alone and there is a guiding light. The work really touched me, because even now children are mislabelled and excluded, and people are unsure how to support them. There’s no manual for parenthood, so your work is vital which I’m very passionate about!
7. What’s in the pipeline for Jennifer Chamandi?
In fashion, you're always working on the next season – I’ve just finished Spring-Summer 2024 and I’m starting work on Fall-Winter 2024. I’m at the stage where I’m consolidating the strong foundations of my business. I want to nurture my relationships with my clients, designing more bespoke items, which brings me so much joy as I’m creating more than a shoe for them, I am creating a moment and a memory.
Plus I can’t wait to do more together and raise further awareness for your work!
On behalf of everyone at Anna Freud, we want to thank you for your incredible commitment to the charity. We’re so grateful for your support and proud to work in partnership with you.