Humans of JNI: James Akrong
I was born in 1994 to Ghanaian parents and I’ve lived in London for most of my life, save for two years I spent living with my grandmother in Accra, Ghana. That was an interesting time! Moving to Ghana was surreal, a real culture shock. There was obviously the heat, the different pace of life, and, most memorably, the very different ways that family life was structured.
I was 9 or 10 at the time and I’ve got a lot of memories from that brief stint in West Africa. But what I remember most was coming back to London and realising that so much had changed. I met up with a lot of my old friends and found that the music they were into, the places they’d hang out in and the slang they used had all changed. Maybe, as I look back, that was an early lesson into how quickly the world moves on from things that seemed once to be so stable and unchanging.
I still live in London, near Paddington, and I really enjoy exploring the city with my free time. I went to university here in the UK and that is where I had my first experience with the world of e-commerce.
At Uni, a friend and I ran a small online sales company before I joined an e-commerce venture where I started and built the merchandising arm of the hit TV programme Love Island. I realised Love Island hadn’t yet begun to commodify some of the featured items on the show (such as their iconic water bottles). So, we approached them and asked if we could be the ones to do so.
I learnt a lot from those university years, and they definitely prepared me for life and work at the JNI family.