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Meet Monalisa Okojie of Nehita in Downtown Los Angeles

Today we’d like to introduce you to Monalisa Okojie.

Monalisa Okojie is currently based in Los Angeles, California. She was born an Ishan Princess from Edo State, Nigeria. She had the privilege of attending St. Mary’s Private School and later on, Federal Government Girls College Calabar before becoming a lawyer in Nigeria. She practiced law for eight years before deciding to change career paths. In 2008, she graduated from the prestigious Gemological Institute of America located in Carlsbad, California, and also received an MBA and an MPH from California Southern University. She is fluent in Yoruba, Ishan, Pigin English, and English. Today, she is a wife, a mother of three, an extremely successful businesswoman, a philanthropist, and a global traveler. She is passionate about fashion, believes in humanitarian work, and in spreading love and kindness, especially to the less fortunate. She is often sought after to speak at various events and universities and is seen by many as a voice of inspiration to all.

In 2008, Monalisa debuted Nehita Inc. She has created an elegant and upscale jewelry collection that showcases timeless and classic pieces, using only the finest of handpicked exotic gems, gold, conflict-free diamonds, and precious stones. Since its debut collection in 2008, Nehita has been worn by celebrities such as Whitney Houston, Natalie Cole, Alan Cumming, Norah Jones, Nick Cannon, Rosario Dawson, and many others. Since then, she has maintained a huge celebrity following and her jewelry line has consistently received rave reviews. Nehita Jewelry has been seen in fashion shows, television, and magazines in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Trinidad, Miami, New York, major cities in Europe, Dubai, Australia and in various African countries.

She recently launched Mona by Nehita, as a more cost-effective alternative to the Nehita collections. It speaks to a wider range of customers that still value Monalisa’s sophistication, but might not be able to indulge in some of her higher end pieces. The uniqueness and sheer beauty of her pieces has aptly given rise to her being referred to as “The Jewelry Designer to the Stars”. She has recently been promoting her jewelry line in Rwanda. In 2013, she launched a stunning scarf collection that debuted a number of vibrant, unique, and beautifully patterned scarves, that could be worn on the neck or head for a fun, yet classically casual look.

Monalisa is now expanding her brand into the world of film and journalism. She is exploring prospects now that will offer her creative disposition a more narrative outlet. She hopes to use the world of film to bring to light issues that might not otherwise be given the attention they deserve. She is also doing some documentary work that is less serious in nature and that would easily be accomplished with her multi-cultural insights and global perspectives on the beauty inherent in cultures other than the ones usually depicted in mainstream media. She knows that there is beauty in diversity and that it may be found in the unlikeliest of places.

Justifiably so, one of Monalisa’s proudest accomplishments is the success of the nonprofit she founded, Upward African Woman. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit California based public benefit corporation whose goal is to empower and educate women and children globally. It includes the establishment of sustainable programs for recipients who are primarily the victims of cultural, mental, sexual, and physical abuse and neglect. UAW supports the following programs:

• Ongoing scholarship program at 2nd Image Academy in Accra, Ghana
• Compton Early College High School
• Day Care and Elementary School in Mombasa, Kenya
• Annual Thanksgiving Feed the Poor/Homeless Program in Skidrow in Los Angeles, CA.
• School Supplies for Orphans in Ghana and Nigeria
• Mentorship program in Accra, Ghana
• The UAW Community Development program focuses on improving the quality of life of African women and children through funding educational projects that bring housing, community facilities, and utilities to those in need. They also provide technical assistance and financing for small businesses and agricultural cooperatives.

Monalisa was honored as a Global Ambassador for Peace and Prosperity Initiative. This recognition is given to people who have been chosen by a panel of judges looking to honor individuals that have gone above and beyond to serve their community at home and abroad. She was also recently honored for her humanitarian work by being awarded the Gem of the Year Award for 2020 at the Soul Slayze IV event in Los Angeles, CA. She was given the International Humanitarian Award by The Embassy of Fashion Designers. She was honored with the 2017 Dangerman Hero Award. This award honors those that aim to help urban youth from bullying, human trafficking, and all forms of abuse. Monalisa also received the International Women in Diplomacy Award in 2019. She has been featured in various magazines such as Jet, Allure, Hollywood Weekly, and LadyBrille, to name a few, as well as various blogs, online magazines, celebrity pages and Pinterest pages. Because of her unique story, background, diverse perspective, keen intellect, and unwavering drive to create and expand herself, there is no limit to her possibilities.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, it hasn’t.

Nehita is a high earned jewelry company. Most high earned jewelry companies are owned by families or other races other than black and other than a female, so it took a long time for me to get the necessary contacts that I needed for my business to succeed.

The road was very rough but after about 3-4 years other jewelers in downtown had no choice but to accept me because I was going nowhere 🙂

The struggles along the way includes what I said above, been accepted, helping me along the way, treating me like other counterparts in the business, sourcing for the right materials at affordable prices, designing pieces that are timeless and classic and finding the right clients for my products.

Nehita Inc – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I specialize in designing timeless, classic pieces of jewelry.

Nehita is known for designing timeless jewelry pieces, we are referred to as the ‘Jeweler to the Stars’.

I am most proud of the way the company has been able to sustain itself regardless of the saturated jewelry market in Los Angeles.

What sets Nehita jewelry apart from others is the attention we pay to every piece of jewelry we design and the fact that our pieces are timeless and can be passed on from generation to generation.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I have several:

1. Late Whitney Houston calling me to make her a beautiful piece of jewelry to relaunch her career.
2. Showcasing my pieces at New York Fashion Week.
3. Been given award by other designers as the designer of the year.
4. Generally seeing my jewelry on the fingers, necks, legs or ears of anyone.

Pricing:

  • We currently have a fixed price jewelry line for $99 , $199 and $299
  • We are celebrating our 10th anniversay, so every month we have a special going on, free gifts, free jewelry etc

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
photonimi

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