1- Hello, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Chekwas Okafor. I am a 26-year-old Nigerian currently living in the Upstate New York area. I moved to the United States for college in 2009 and received a BS in Biology in 2012 from Voorhees College, a historically black college and university (HBCU) in South Carolina. I am passionate about creating value on the African continent and hope to play an active role in the Africa rising rhetoric. I founded an African Luxury Fashion company, www.ONYCHEK.com
As the founder of ONYCHEK.com, describe your brand in few words?
ONYCHEK.com is an online store for African Luxury Fashion based out of Upstate NY.
What inspired you to start this business?
I wanted to make African Luxury fashion easily accessible to the world as there is a lot of magic currently happening in this industry, which I believe the world has not experienced yet. I also wanted to support designers tell the African story through the fashion medium, knowing how powerful fashion influences cultures.
What are your focus areas and why?
We are maniacally focused on customers. From our perspective, we have two customers: the designers and our users. For the designers, we work every day to make marketing, product placement, logistics easy. As for our users, we work to make it easier for them to experience African Luxury by making the website very easy to navigate with good user experience and user interface (UX/UI) and by being consistent in creating long-form content, through our blog THE INSIGHT, to help educate them about our luxury brands. We believe that by focusing on our customers, we can build a long lasting company.
Where do you think the company will make an impact?
Our company is impact driven, so this is really important to us. One of our company values is “Africa First.” This means that before any big decision is made, we ask ourselves how the outcome will positively affect Africa. If the answer is negative, then we adjust or change course until we are aligned. This is why we only work with luxury brands that make their products on the African continent. We believe this is the best way we can create the optimal impact on the continent. By doing this, we will be forced to work harder and think more long term. Also by taking this approach, our company will have a major impact in creating a more robust retail and distribution system on the continent, while enhancing people’s lives. This is why we exist as a company.
What are some things that most people don’t know about your company?
I’ve been working with the company for about 2 years, though we just publicly launched on September 23rd, 2016. That’s a long time.
The entrepreneurship world is a very changing, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
First, I hope to have grown as a person in all aspects of my life. I hope to have nurtured a company that is systematically solving legacy problems in the African fashion industry. I hope to have created a company that people are happy want to work in.
What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered while working on this big project?
Getting designer buy-in, I will say was my biggest challenge. Many designers I reached out to were not willing to work with me at that point since we were just starting. Therefore, I am grateful to the designers that gave us a chance to stock their products even though we are a startup.
What are you most excited about at the moment?
More than anything, the fact that more people are learning about African Luxury Brands is exciting. You know, “Africa” and “Luxury” are terms that people do not expect to be together. You see, people understand “African Music.” People understand “African Movie.” People find if hard to grasp “African Luxury.”- it is a relatively new concept. Therefore, for the fact that more people are learning about this industry, I am more than ecstatic.
What can you tell to young entrepreneurs who want to start a new adventure pursuing their dreams?
Ideas are worthless. Execution is key.
Any last Words or final thoughts?
I am really optimistic about the future of our continent. I am reassured by what young people are building every day. The growth of the continent is inevitable because the people who are changing or will change the continent for the better are probably sitting next to you. Today.