An African Fashion Startup To Watch:


So sorry i have not been able to update this blog for a while now , i have been extremely busy (announcement coming soon), Part of my activities have been in the exciting world of fashion.

The Economic recession that we are currently coming out of seems to have brought out the creative genius in a lot of youths, the Fashion industry is currently booming, with people patronizing made in Nigeria products almost as much as foreign attires.

I have decided to share this article featured on www.forbes.com for all my fashion enthusiasts.

Fantastic.


Nigerian entrepreneur Chekwas Okafor is the founder and CEO of ONYCHEK.com, an e-commerce platform for luxury fashion from Africa.

The creation of ONYCHEK.com was inspired by a simple, yet magnificent idea: To showcase and promote the luxury African fashion to the rest of the world. ONYCHEK aims to be the leading retail portal for African fashion and is building a reputation for stocking only the best of African couture from some of the continent’s most celebrated designers.
Chekwas Okafor recently spoke to me about how ONYCHEK plans to export African luxury to the world.
Chekwas Okafor
Chekwas Okafor

Tell us about your personal and professional background.
My name is Chekwas Okafor, founder and CEO of ONYCHEK.com, an ecommerce platform for luxury fashion from Africa. In 2009, I moved to the US to study at Voorhees College, a HBCU located in Denmark, South Carolina, where I completed my BS degree in Biology/ Environmental Science. Upon graduation, I worked in a building material manufacturing company in the environmental, health and safety function for ~4 years. I then launched ONYCHEK.com in September of 2016.


You seem to have bounced around disciplines before getting into fashion. How did that happen?
Prior to college and pretty much anything substantial I was going to do with my life, it was clear to me that I was going to spend most of my time creating value in Africa. Although I was working in corporate America, I always knew that was temporary. I was just waiting for the right idea.
In 2014, a friend showed me some Nigerian made clothing that were phenomenal and I questioned why the mainstream didn’t know about this. Once I made the connection of how much value can be created by making fashion locally, it was evident that I would be doing this for a long time. Two years later, I launched ONYCHEK.com to make African luxury fashion easily accessible to the world.


How did you come about starting a fashion company, considering the fact that you had no background in fashion?
I didn’t have any background in the fashion industry in general, but I had grown up in family where my dad imported textiles, so I was sort of familiar with that. I also had sold clothes out of my dorm room in college. For a brief period I also modeled. These experiences were helpful.
Regarding the African fashion industry, I had no clue. To bridge this gap, I simply learned by reading books, listening to podcasts, reading a lot of blogs. This made it possible for me to gain a good foundation before I launched the company. I am still learning as we go through this interview.

You said you were searching for the right idea. What made you choose African fashion?
I didn’t just choose African fashion. I chose luxury fashion from Africa. I chose this for a lot of reasons. I will summarize a couple:

For one, it creates jobs. Growing up, I cannot remember wearing a ready-to-wear clothing from an African brand. When I thought of buying ready-to-wear clothes, I went to the second hand market and made my choices. Only tailored clothing was prevalent, and they were worn for ceremonies. With that saying, making more read-to-wear clothing locally will simply create jobs. My interest to create value in Africa made me decide to only focus on brands making their clothes locally. This is because more people making clothes, means more people making sustainable income, which means more people living their lives to the fullest.

Also, African fashion preserves culture. African designers are doing an incredible job of weaving culture into their designs. We are moving from Africa being a mere source of inspiration to African designers wholeheartedly bringing African culture to the forefront of the fashion “conversation” in a way the world hasn’t seen before. Think of Maxhosa by Laduma, a South African designer that is makes beautiful knitwear inspired by his Xhosa heritage. These designs scream culture and at the same time can be worn to work. This is what the African luxury industry is doing. Bringing the African culture to the forefront of their designs. We need this.

Finally, African fashion changes how people view Africa. With the quality of products being made in Africa, somehow a lot of people still associate mediocrity to locally made products. Therefore, by us focusing on telling the actual story and highlighting the amazing job being done by these designers, we can shift how the world perceives Africa. Let’s take ENZI, an Ethiopian based sneaker company that is making amazing leather sneakers by hand. Their products are one of the most solid sneakers that I have purchased, but people won’t know this unless they are educated. This is another big reason we focused on brands making their products in Africa.

You can read the rest of this fantastic interview on https://www.forbes.com/sites/mfonobongnsehe/2017/07/21/an-african-fashion-startup-to-watch-onychek-com/2/#428c2e7dc1a4

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