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Meet John Nwankwo

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Nwankwo.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I was born in Nigeria but grew up in Los Angeles, CA and have been in LA my entire life. When I was in graduate school, studying to receive my Master’s in Fine Art (MFA) in Fashion Merchandising & Marketing, as part of my requirement to receive my degree, I had to create a business idea or concept that was within the guidelines of my graduate program at the Academy of Art University. Now, mind you, I was already in the process of creating my own clothing business, but I wanted to fine-tune my original idea and utilize the expertise of my program advisors, industry experts, and resources that my graduate program was offering to successfully launch my brand. With extensive research and planning during the completion of my thesis, I launched NKASIOBI an online boutique. I started out with selling pieces I manufactured with my production partner and stocking a Los Angeles-based brand, Beulah. I created NKASIOBI to be a multi-brand online boutique that curates an assortment of apparel for women from emerging designer brands while also producing our own branded private collection. Fast forward to the present day, I now partner with and carry six emerging designers, with plans to add more brands to our assortment, and we will be launching a silk printed scarves collection.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
When launching and now scaling my business, there have been many hurdles. When I started, I had limited capital – personal savings and funds invested by friends and family – so I had to be resourceful and nimble when investing in inventory, marketing, and other resources to scale my business. In addition, I negotiated pricing with my vendors and production partners, found ways to gain organic website traffic, utilized user-generated content from my brand partners to get more visits from their audiences to my website, and so much more.

I also started my business in 2020, so the uncertainties of the fashion industry were an obstacle I had to endure. At that time, my production partner and best-selling brand partner went out of business, so navigating the search for a trusted production team and negotiating with new brands were my biggest challenge. There were many hurdles and roadblocks while on this journey to entrepreneurship, but it has taught me a lot, and it gave me the confidence to advocate for my business and myself with no fear.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about NKASIOBI?
NKASIOBI is an online boutique that curates emerging designer brands while producing a collection of apparel that represents the taste level of our high-fashion customers. The industry focuses on mainstream brands funded by huge conglomerates, which hinder smaller brands from penetrating the market due to a lack of resources or recognition to share their story. The ethos behind my business is to introduce emerging talent to our growing global audience and tell the designer’s stories to our audience. Fashion is all about storytelling and creating an experience that resonates with the consumer, my hope for NKASIOBI is to create a tailored experience for customers to shop for exclusive pieces and define their style.

NKASIOBI has been in business for almost two years, and we have pivoted, redefined, and fine-tuned our messaging to our customers. I strive to create a positive environment where shoppers are satisfied with our assortment and feel a sense of excitement when we launch new designers or products. In our efforts to create positivity in fashion, we strive to be inclusive. Inclusion to us means many different things – inclusion in the brands we carry, the type of models we use, or the size range we have available in our assortment. I want all my customers to feel represented and enjoy shopping for items they love. Since redefining our brand messaging, I am most proud of the community of women we cultivated who love fashion and have a style that’s their own.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
I cannot stress this enough, but I would advise new entrepreneurs to interact with other entrepreneurs. Get a mentor if that helps. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely experience, especially when you have people in your social circle who do not understand the sacrifices it takes to scale a business. If you can join other entrepreneurship groups or attend events with like-minded people, I suggest you do so. The wealth of information and knowledge you can get from other entrepreneurs is priceless. Also, bouncing off ideas for future marketing campaigns, being encouraged for small wins, or just venting about the little frustrations of being a business owner are things that I feel other business owners can help you navigate.

Lastly, never stop learning. I come from a family that is academically accomplished. My parents would advise me to keep learning, even after receiving my master’s degree. Now, I am not saying everyone should get a degree or whatnot, but there are many articles to learn about market insights, case studies on successful businesses, online programs to obtain certificates in marketing, business development, or social media, and seminars or webinars to attend about a specific industry. Knowledge is wealth, and having that can help any business owner to find solutions to help them start or scale their businesses.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Image 1 Model: Amanda Hubbell Image 2 Model: Bianca Oruh Image 3 Model: Cabrittany Omewiri Image 4 Model: Cabrittany Omewiri Image 5 Model: Bianca Bridges Image 6 Model: Kamryn Alyse Howard Image 7 Model: Veronica Anne, Amanda Hubbell Image 8 Model: Veronica Anne

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