The life of a fashion entrepreneur appears to be a fantasy world through the eyes of an onlooker. They always look gorgeous and seem to have a fabulous life, which usually is well documented by way of social media and each of their carefully curated blogs. Following their stories and looking at their pages and walls, it is hard not to envy them and wish to have their lives (especially if you are huge on all things fashion). You wonder how they are able to keep up and what their life really is like.
To put some of those speculations to rest, we sat down with Ivy Ekong of IvyEkong Fashion in an interview to know what her life is really like. We find the UK-based, fashion blogger, consultant, and stylist turned fashion entrepreneur, who is our feature for today -DAY 9 of #12daysofglam giveaway courtesy of Sinai Beauty ,utterly inspiring. Considering the amount of success Ivy’s blog has had over the years, her ever-growing presence in the fashion scene, and her impressive editorial experience, it came as no surprise to learn that her motto is: “You can have it all”.
Tell us about yourself and what you do
I: My name is Ivie Ekong popular known as Ivy Ekong. I am originally from Edo state Nigeria but now British-based in London with my family. I am a wife, mum of two beautiful girls ages 7 and 3 respectively. Aside from being a mum, I am also a full-time blogger and Founder of IvyEkong Fashion. Ivy Ekong Fashion is an online premium fashion and accessories boutique for women of all ages. I have been in the fashion industry since a very young age: from being an Ex Beauty Queen in Nigeria to modeling, later starting up an image consultancy business at that time, and launching my personal blog 4 years ago – www.ivyekong.com, a multicultural platform which is focused on fashion, beauty, healthy lifestyle, and women empowerment. I am a graduate of Economics and also hold a degree in Business Management respectively. I have always had a passion for fashion and I am so happy that I am now able to live my dreams doing what I love as an Entrepreneur. I would introduce myself as a wife and a mother first before being a Fashion Entrepreneur because my family comes first before any career and mostly because I wouldn’t achieve what I have now in my career with my family.
You recently launched the online store you just mentioned. What has the experience been like?
I: Launching a premium online store has been very rewarding and yet very challenging as well. I tell a lot of people that even at a tender age I always knew who I wanted to be, and the career path I wanted to take. A few years later, I am living my dreams and doing all I knew I wanted, which was to own a global fashion brand. Being an entrepreneur comes with its own reward and challenges, especially in the fashion industry because it’s so competitive in this industry. Since launching my brand IvyEkong Fashion, the experience has been great. We have had amazing feedback. We have also seen a lot of high profile individuals, bloggers, celebs here in the UK in our pieces which is quite reassuring. Whenever I see these women in our pieces, it just reassures me that we are doing the right thing. We are also doing all we can to make sure that the business flourishes even better in 2018 with the launching of more styles and new designs, and also accommodate plus size women by adding a few plus size items on the site as well. My priority is to make sure that every woman no matter this shape or sizes feel the most confident in our pieces.
You have come a long way from Icon mode and being a fashion blogger. How did your journey start and what has the journey been like?
I’m so glad you asked this question because I believe that there cannot be a future without a past. It all started so many years ago in my teenage days back home in Nigeria. I participated in a beauty pageant (one of many, I must say) in my state, Edo state and luckily I won “The Face Of Esan”. This was how it all started. Winning that pageant opened up a different platform /opportunities for me. During my one year reign, I ran an NGO with the help of the then government to cater for women and children living with HIV/AIDS and did so many campaigns in Edo state, Lagos and Nigeria as a whole to help with sensitization and inclusion of HIV/AIDS victims and their relatives in the society. I was also modeling while I was doing this as I had so many opportunities to model back then as the new “Queen”. Things were a lot different then, in the fashion/Modelling industry, than it is now. I would say those days paved way for where I am now. After my reign as the Queen, it became very obvious that this path is where I want to take as I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I flew into London and trained as a personal stylist and Image Consultant. This is how it all started and my story hasn’t been the same ever since. It’s been a challenging but rewarding journey.
What would you say has been the greatest challenge you have faced in your career so far and why? How did you deal with it?
I: I would say the greatest challenge I have faced is starting an online premium store with very little budget compared to my competitors who have been in the fashion business for decades and have a very high budget to spend on marketing and campaign productions. This has been our greatest challenge, and likely so for any new business. So far we have been able to succeed through that challenge because it has become very obvious to our market segment are aware that what we design is not mass produced but has a unique impact for the everyday woman. Our pieces are pieces that women can style and wear in so many different ways. My goal is to design pieces that will empower women to ”dress for success”. This strong message that we portray behind every piece on our website (www.ivyekongfashion.com) has helped us break boundaries and overcome most challenges as we are now the first stop shop for glamorous and affordable special occasion and evening wear in the UK. We now offer worldwide shipping too and have clients from all over the world including Nigeria.
You seem to be involved in quite a lot. How do you manage motherhood and your career?
I: As a working mum, it is quite challenging running the home and two kids along with a business. If you follow me on social media, I’m sure you will be used to my Motto by now which says “You can have it all” I constantly encourage my followers and fans by letting them know that you can have both. Yes you would have to work more, put in late night hours into work after your kids are in bed, have some sleepless nights and early mornings, but you can have it all: a happy home with a happy husband and kids, a successful business if you are willing and passionate enough to put in extra hours. It is very much achievable. I work everywhere really, sometimes on my kitchen table, sometimes in my daughter’s room, sometimes inside my car, the list is unending. I do whatever I need to do to make it work, making my family priority over everything else. Also, my husband is extremely supportive and gives me a helping hand when necessary which makes it a bit easier.
What would you say are your greatest achievements so far?
I: My greatest achievement so far is my two beautiful girls first and my online store. They are the reason I do all I do because I want them to see how hard mummy works and how I never gave up on my dreams. One day, it will be an inspiration for them to follow their dreams too and accomplish even much more than I did.
If you could change one thing about the fashion business in Africa, what would it be and why?
I: I would say consistency because a lot of our African fashion brands are not so consistent. They spring off today and the next day they are no more, or they start copying western world styles which necessarily doesn’t represent our true African culture. It would be great to have African fashion brands especially start-ups that are consistent with their approach and designs.
What are your plans for next year?
I: 2018 will be a great and very busy year for me and my team. We plan to make the Ivy Ekong brand a global brand with the launch of not only Ivy Ekong Fashion and Ivy Ekong Blog but also Ivy Ekong Handbag, shoe range, cosmetics, and many more.
HOW TO WIN
Comment on our Instagram page & tell us why you found this interview inspiring
Don’t forget to follow us on: