|30th Jun 2014✧09:2221 notes
|13th Jun 2014✧12:41175 notes
In honor of Father’s Day, Onehunted’s Ike Ewell caught up with Wale Oyéjidé, the mastermind behind the Ikire Jones brand, to discuss how Oyéjidé balances entrepreneurship with fatherhood—and still manages to look good, do good, and feel good.
“It’s really all about conviction. When you walk into a room, people believe whatever you believe you are.
“I walk down the street wearing Ikire Jones, I always get approached by people from all walks of life: old white women, young white women, old white men, like everybody, saying: ‘That’s beautiful!’ Because it’s so outlandish to them, but it’s also in a manner that’s not a caricature or a costume. They get it because for me it’s not something that I’m self-conscious about, it’s just something that I’m doing. They see that.”
“I think a lot of us are fully capable, intelligent, creative people but if you’re not given the right task or a task that sparks your interested, you’re not gonna excel.”
“I felt a lot of pressure to something that was safe and logical. But I never put my all into it. I realize now that I was always inclined to be super independent and to do something that was creative.”
“Raising the baby. Raising my business.”
“The problem for any entrepreneur is how to make it work when you leave the warm arms of your captor. You have a certain amount of room where you can grind until the money runs out, so you either have to get some help, or get it off the ground before you come off the tracks or hit the wall. I think every entrepreneur has that issue and that’s where I am. So it’s just grind time. I just gotta grind.”
“I was raised in a household where everyone put in. I want to do my part. And I want my kid to grow up feeling like everything is all good. I want her to be proud of me, like as an artist, but also as somebody who’s helping put food on the table and in the body and the soul.”
It’s gonna sound super-narcissistic to use this as an example, but if this was around when I was a shopper, I would be so happy as a consumer to be like, this is something that tells a story. So if I’ve gotta stick my neck out so ten other dudes can be like, “Yo, that’s ill and I’m gonna flip that and make this,” and now the whole market has all these amazing things in it… That’s what creating is: You get inspired by other people. But if nobody inspires nobody else, if you just do what everybody else does, then no one gets inspired.
“At one point, I thought I wanted to have a bricks and mortar store, but then I decided I just wanted to sew and make my own things… Not that I mind selling other peoples things, but I wanna be able to talk to you about the whole history of this concept. If I’m selling you something that’s made from Tom Ford or whatever, I gotta tell you, ‘Yo, this is made by Tom Ford. He’s the illest designer in the world. He’s great.’ Which is fine, but I can only tell you but so much. Whereas, I can talk to you all day about this (Ikire Jones), because I made it. There are a lot of guys out there who have menswear stores and they go to Italy or somewhere and they get pieces that they think are dope, and it’s almost like they curate your thing and that’s fine, but it’s like, you’re a middleman. I don’t think of that as artistic. I get it. It’s a business. It’s not supposed to be artistic. But I don’t see that as being creative. For me, it’s more important to be a creator who can benefit from his works, instead of someone who’s passing on things.”
OH: You’re a trendsetter, a tastemaker, a very stylish cat. Not only do you have your own sense of style and rock fly stuff, you make your own stuff that other stylish guys rock. What do you do to look good?
WO: You need an outlet. Some people go to church. Some people have a therapist, which is great. Whatever works for you. When I was a lawyer, I got super heavy into working out. After work, I’d hit the gym and just bang it out, and that for me was not only beneficial for my health, but you burn everything off. And as a professional with a stressful gig, I feel you need a place to erase the day you had. And professional lawyers have one the highest rates of drug and alcohol abuse, suicide, and depression, so it was just like really important to get the mind right and get the body right and for me it was the gym. Working on my body also helps, because when you feel good about yourself, you can wear more things. All kinds of fits. When your mind is right and your body is right, you’re in the game literally and figuratively. For me, it’s just about doing something. Staying up as much as one can. We can all do a little bit.
OH: What’s your workout of choice?
WO: I’m more of a weight dude. I’m not as much calisthenics inclined. So everything from pull-ups to push-ups to body weight exercises. I want to be a little bit swole. As you get older, you become more aware of your mortality. I wanna be here. I want my kids to look back and be like, “Pops was alright.”
OH: Tell us your go-to look…
WO: My go-to look is a blazer and the comfort of jeans. As you see my stuff, you’ll see the jacket isn’t totally formal. It’s formal, but it’s clearly not office environment, for most of the stuff I’m doing. So it’s the idea of having tasteful flair to pops of color. It’s like, I’m doing this: Taking my self seriously, but it’s still flashy without being over the top. I mean, it’s not a Coogi sweater, but even then, it’s kind of like a Coogi jacket. Let’s be honest, it’s Coogi-ish!
OH: What’s your favorite piece from your own collection?
WO: My best friend at Morehouse was this cat, Damien Miller, who was the ultimate ladies man. He had supreme confidence. For me, it’s like, I look at my squad. This dude was a super-confident dude, who got all the ladies, and how do I carry that Damien Miller-aura with me? Put on the Miller Jacket.
OH: I love this new line where you name everything after your squad.
WO: The first line of jackets I did was named after all of my favorite rappers. But this line is like you’re carrying a piece of a dear friend with you, which is cool. There’s a reason. As I was designing these pieces I was thinking, “What qualities does this person have that I want to extol?” So when I put this on, I think about them. I want them to know. For instance, in Nigeria, when they have a party, live musicians play. In our culture, at Nigerian weddings, they make it rain on the bride. “Making it rain” is something we invented, but we call it “spraying.” So, in our culture, when we have a party, when the live musicians are playing, the way people feel when you feel like a boss, not only will they spray, the musician will sing your name. He’ll say, “I’m at Isaac’s party. He’s the best! He’s the best! He’s the richest man.” And then you’ll come up and they’ll just start spraying money. So naming the jackets after my boys, is my way of doing something similar, paying respect to them, letting them know I think they’re bosses. Even though I’m not there, and my boy’s not there, if he sees this jacket in a magazine with his name, he’ll know that’s me shouting him out. It’s the whole hip-hop mentality. It’s like graffiti.
OH: How do you try to do good in the world?
WO: I’m a full-time dad. I’m pretty early in the game. I’m always like how much patience do I really have, because it’s like me and her almost all day. It’s a huge learning process about yourself. I’m really putting into this person all that she needs. She’s an amazing kid and we probably can’t take credit for that. She’s not talking yet, but her personality’s there. Maintaining this person is the ultimate job and endeavor and process, and so far it’s super beneficial. She’s starting to give hugs, which is the ultimate props right now.
When your child is sick and she reaches out for you, that can’t be measured. She’s looking at me like there’s nobody else in the world.
OH: Currently there are a lot more stay-at-home fathers, but I’m not sure how many stay-at-home dads who are also entrepreneurs, which is pretty dope.
WO: “Necessity is the mother…”—Well, I guess father, in this case. I was never really a kid person, until I had one. And I think for a lot of men, culturally in society it’s kind of like, “Yeah, it’s not for you.” Certain men are lucky enough to be inclined to be more open hearted in that way. But for those who aren’t, when you have your own then you just realize that this is it! It’s the most important thing and you’ve gotta do it right.
OH: I left a job with a good salary soon after having twins. The beauty of it was I got to be home with my boys, which was invaluable. Our relationship is so tight.
WO: Stuff you gotta carry as a man. I remember when we met you told me about how good it was to be there for them. It’s important for me because a lot of us, and I don’t wanna speak generally, grew up where that wasn’t in the culture. They had to work so hard that they didn’t have time every night to sit there and read you a story and give you a hug every night. Then you grow up and the parent wants that closeness and it’s not there because the time wasn’t put in on the front in. That intimacy isn’t there.
OH: What motivates us, there’s this fear. It’s clear that when I talk to you that you’re supremely confident that you’re the baddest MF doing this. You’re super confident in yourself and what you’re doing.
WO: There’s a real fear. Yeah, we laugh at the Dame Dashs and Kanyes of the world, but it takes a certain level of being a jerk to succeed. Kanye talks about this all the time… Are great people jerks because they’re great? Or do you have to be a jerk to become great?
That’s not to say that I’m not going to be nice. But it makes you question, why is it that they’re so successful and confident? Is it the chicken or the egg? Whatever the case, they’re that way and it seems like most people, maybe not all, but those who are successful, they have to believe in their own greatness, so everybody else buys in—as long as the product is there.
OH: Give us a day in the life of a full-time-dad/entrepreneur/fashion designer icon.
WO: Most of my day is raising the kid, which is the most important responsibility. When I wake up, I have about an hour window. I might get in some emails, some design work, then she’s up and it’s breakfast and anything else at that point is an after-thought. She’s the focus. It’s basically baby time until her nap, then I have a two hour window. Maybe I’ve been keeping an eye on emails and stuff while she’s awake, but you can’t really focus on anything but her while she’s up, so if she takes a nap, I catch up on and respond to emails. It’s not an inconvenience, it’s just the way your life is.
I’m not runnin’ the streets no more. I’m past that stage. I guess it’s just the natural progression, as you grow older and mature you just have to accept that things change—hopefully for the better. You’re just aware that THIS is what the game is now. These are things that no parent can teach you. You just have to figure out the rules when you arrive.
If you’re lucky enough to be with someone who knows what your game plan incorporates and lets you do what you need to do, versus being with someone who’s like, “No, I’ma do this and you need to get your situation right ‘cause I’m trying to do this. Good luck.” And I can’t fault somebody for saying that but I’m just very lucky that that’s not my situation.