WatchFit speaks to its latest Contributing Expert Jennifer Jane about her fascinating and inspiring life story.
By the standards of any emerging butterfly or ugly duckling story, Jennifer Jane’s life might sound like a series of transformation clichés too far. If they weren’t so true…
Today it is hard to believe that this radiant, beautiful, engaging and glowingly healthy lady doesn’t have the happiest recollections of school and was hardly the focal point of attention as a child or the life and soul of any social group. For her school did not provide the happiest days of her life.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
But if her life and the ironic twist of circumstances and events were to be turned into a movie it would perhaps be too sugary to stomach even by Disney standards. However it is often said that fact is stranger than fiction and Jennifer’s life of two wildly contrasting halves proves that point emphatically. It is also a uplifting story of quiet determination, drive and a desire to keep moving forwards.
Jennifer’s formative years lacked geographical stability and by the time she was 20 years old she had moved 22 times and attended more schools than she can remember.
Travels took her from Cyprus to the Isle of Man to Hertfordshire and many points in between. “It was just a constant procession of moving, adjusting to a new place, never having time to put any roots down or make friends before upping and pushing on again. As with any process of constant movement and limited time in any given place it is hard to become truly established and develop a sense of absolute belonging. And my main point of reference as I grew up was my brother who was six years older than me.”
It can be no surprise then that Jennifer grew up to be a tomboy with no real regard for and little awareness of her own femininity. “I was never part of any of the school cliques and social groups and was never close to ‘the in girls’ because I was rarely around long enough to break into anything that was already established. And it can’t have helped that I was also completely boyish and not remotely in with a chance of being one of the girly girls.”
Even up to her College days in Harlow where she studied Media Communication, Graphic Design, Photography and English, and beyond into the world of publishing, Jennifer’s tomboy stylings were still to the fore and her self regard, informed by her schooldays experiences, was still pretty low.
But her life changed dramatically thanks to the most frivolous of events. “I was holidaying in Cyprus with a few people and we were just goofing around with a camera and wearing bikinis at the time. It was only afterwards when looking at the pictures, somebody noticed me and had a bit of a ‘Wow’ moment. It was a case of ‘Is this really you?’
As a result of this and entirely against her character and natural inclinations Jennifer decided to enter a Club 18-30 Search for a Model Competition. She won and then booked a speculative shoot to see if anything really did reside under the tomboy veil.
“This was a really big deal because I still hadn’t discovered or found confidence in my feminine side and the memory of a school trip to France when I was called ‘Garcon’ was still very vivid. But the competition win set things in motion and the shoot went OK , so I started to get a sense of what might be.”
Despite this new found awareness Jennifer harboured no modelling ambitions and certainly didn’t chase the modelling world. But it found her, and it found her in a big way. She worked with eccentric fashion legend Dame Zandra Rhodes, featured on numerous magazine covers from Women’s Fitness and Maxim to PC Format and work for the likes of Canon Cameras, T-Mobile and O2 and TV ads rolled in too.
But significant events were really set in motion when she was snapped up by French Connection for a campaign that resulted in life size pictures of her in shop windows. And once again chance, coincidence, circumstance and an eye for opportunity all converged. “It was during an FCUK shoot that the booked models all had a collective strop and flounced out.
I was just happy to have the job with French Connection so decided to keep my head down, my mouth shut and get on with the job. In the end I was the only model left on the shoot. I said I could replace the others with some girls I knew. And they offered to double my fee if I was true to my word…and I was!
Jennifer and her replacement girls were then re-booked and she decided to adopt a more organisational role by setting up her own model agency. Her first client? French Connection!