Please tell us about yourself?
I was born in Nigeria but moved to LA when I was a lot younger. I would say that I grew up between LA and Houston and my college years took me to New York, where I studied fashion and entertainment.
I have not been diagnosed with any specific mental health issues, but I am fully aware of the ability in humans to lose control of their thoughts and actions. There have been situations in which I have felt out of control; feeling like my thoughts were moving faster than I could process. I would say that this is an experience that a lot of men can relate to if they think about it.
Anything that relates to anger management issues and of control your temper could easily be linked to mental health issues.
This is not a bad thing or anything to be ashamed of. Humans are imperfect, and this is all part of being human.
How has the recent Covid-19 pandemic impacted your life?
It has been an interesting time. I have enjoyed the opportunity for reflection and have certainly developed new habits that I already value and will stick to moving forward.
What does mental health mean to you?
I am very passionate about mental health. A good friend and client of mine Adonis Bosso owns mental health clinics in Canada. We have been working together in developing that and building it up in the last couple of years. I also have family members with autism and ADHD. Mental Health is a subject that I am keen to spread more positive light on and remove the shame and negative association from it.
Adonis has led me into this space and enlightened me, educated me on the issues and ways of bringing more awareness to the industry.
What about Mental Health in the fashion industry?
Fashion is a materialistic world - Full of luxury, glisten, image and perception. When you spend significant time in this industry, you can lose track of reality. People in that space need to balance, reconnect and understand what matters in life. If you lose that focus, you can lose your mind.
We have to get the industry to think differently in many ways. As well as Mental Health, there is a lack of education that a lot of brands have in relation to sustainability.
Recently I was working in Uganda at a refugee camp. I worked with a female design community to create outerwear made of rice. We created coats from materials that are considered to be garbage. What started as a Burning Man piece ended up displayed in the United Nations. These garments are an example to people of how we can do better when we think differently and see value in resources that we did not before. We must see sustainability incorporated in fashion pieces.
How would you describe your passion?
I would say that I am passionate about image. By enhancing someone's image, I use can Fashion as a language to tell their story.
My gift is that I can make anyone or anything looks good. This is important because it requires emotional intelligence; you have to have a certain connection with people to capture their individual personality and make them look or feel better.
It's not necessarily about the clothing or the silhouettes. It's about the connection. There is art in that connection.
I am excited about trends in clothing and beauty products that are about transcending gender. We no longer have to make a male or female distinction.
If people look their best, they feel their best. It is how you feel on this inside matters the most.
Please talk about your journey in relation to your passion?
I never knew what I wanted to do, but I knew what I wanted to be - An example. Coming from Nigeria and to America, I had to be a hope for people who came where I came from.
I had to represent hope and remove the limits created by peoples beliefs about where they could go or what they could become.
My confidence that I have found through living by these values has been able to attract me to high-level people in this world.
People like Stevie Wonder and Quincy Jones have taught me that people who have strong messages in this world support others who have strong messages. That is a realisation that I want to share.
What have been the highlights so far?
Moving to LA. I knew at the time that this was needed. I needed a change, something different. That one move changed my life and career.
It was not easy, but I listened to my intuition and followed my heart and took the risk. People need to understand that the higher the risk, the higher the reward. We cannot make a change unless we do something different.
What are your next steps, goals or ambitions?
I have had my share of experiences in Hollywood. I have lived in a lot of places and heard a lot of things. It is important to me to share those stories on a lot of different platforms. I believe in the importance of being able to change the narrative simply by sharing my story.
More TV shows, films that men can watch that would help support them with mental health issues - anything that involves curating and telling stories.
If you have one piece of advice for your fellow man, what would it be?
Today's men need a voice and to define that we must hear the perspectives of many different men.
To my fellow man, as well as anyone, I would say - document as much as possible. No matter what part of the journey you are on. Everyone has a story worth telling. If you are on the road to success, you can inspire a lot of people by sharing that journey.