Putting the Right Foot Forward

Before founding Jophiel, a fine women’s clothier, Julie Eckert Clancy was working in the fashion industry in Chicago. But when it came time to start her own business, she decided to move it to Fort Wayne and bring a high-caliber fashion boutique to her home state.

“Bringing something totally new and interesting to a community was more exciting to me,” she said.

And it was also a recipe for success. Since opening their doors 20 years ago, Jophiel’s location has more than quadrupled in size to accommodate the growing business. Eckert Clancy attributes this to the unique styling services they offer, which help them stand out among other retailers.

“We dress women head to toe, very specific to their life, their career, or their events,” she explained. “Today, with the mass merchants that we have…what that has done is taken away an individual relationship with a sales consultant.”

And it’s this relationship that the staff at Jophiel works to cultivate. So it’s no surprise that Eckert Clancy also values relationships in the business community; she’s been an ardent supporter of Greater Fort Wayne Inc., formerly the Chamber of Commerce.

“I think you have an obligation as a business owner to support an organization that’s working for you,” she said. “The organization has always been for economic development, and helping the community grow.”

When she first moved her business to the area, Eckert Clancy took advantage of CEO Roundtables, a networking opportunity for local business leaders, sponsored by at that time, the Chamber of Commerce. This was invaluable, she said, because it helped her get to know other business owners, and better understand the Fort Wayne business community as a whole.

CEO Roundtables are forums made up of non-competitive business peers, who gather regularly to share knowledge and discuss best practices for the current business climate. These meetings often serve as a springboard for ideas that improve operations and profitability for area businesses.

But beyond the CEO Roundtables, Eckert Clancy says that she appreciates what GFW Inc. is doing for the community, and also her own business. GFW Inc went so far as to contact her personally to engage and talk about what is actually going on in the community. “It was just a reach out, and we talked for about an hour about my business, how it had been going…and the future,” she said.

“I really think that what GFW Inc. has done, and is trying to do, is to make this community a great place to live and work,” she continued. “Which I see as an asset to being in business in Fort Wayne.”


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