A new fashion line is making its way to the city of brotherly love and bringing with it authentic, West African culture. Obi Okafor, who was born in Maple Wood, New Jersey but now calls north Philly home, is the owner of EZE Fashion, a fashion line of Nigerian garb, jewelry and accessories.
Here, Small Biz Philly sits down with the rising star entrepreneur for an exclusive interview:
1. What inspired you to start this business?
My company started in 2017. I Went to Nigeria for work for 4 months and got in touch with my West Nigerian culture. Even though I was born in America, my parents were born in Nigeria so I have strong roots there. My parents moved to America when they were in early 20’s. Growing up, I was always surrounded by Nigerian culture. I visited Nigeria in the summer of 2016 and started getting into manufacturing with my Uncle. He owned his own small business and I did the sales and operations for 4 months. This enabled me to have a deep appreciation for the culture and beauty of Nigeria. I was so mesmerized and inspired, I wanted to bring back these pieces of art to the states, like necklaces, beads, and bracelets attire. I wanted America to embrace this astounding culture.
2. What makes you different from the competition?
Simply put: The Message. Our brand is all about embracing inner royalty in customers and people in general. Eze in igbo (Nigerian language) means royalty. We provide African pieces straight from Africa that I exclusively shares with world.
3. Who inspired you growing up?
My parents. They were a big inspiration to what I do, both personally and of course, in business. Unfortunately, they passed away in past couple of years. My current business is a tribute to them, especially my mother. They were very hard-working people; I learned my hard work ethic that they instilled in me. My ultimate goal was to make this unique business successful in their name. I always want to do nice things for them.
4. Who is your target market?
Art lovers everywhere that appreciate West African culture.
5. What are your future plans?
Continue to grow. Market pieces and accessories all over Africa through merchandising. I’d love to travel to different places and highlight beauty of the places I visit with the trinkets and pieces they have. People feel unified with business and culture, and I wish to bring West African culture to the world and educate people through our brand.