La Mode: Can we meet you?
Kenechukwu: Oh yes! My name is Kenechukwu Esimai aka Gabby. Some of my friends call me Stormy. I am an engineer working in a construction civil company in Dubai, managerial level.
I am single and Christianity is my religion. I love watching football and I am an Arsenal fan, though I have been disappointed by the Team but I remain loyal to them. I also celebrate the fact that we have won this season.
I love fashion. I have been invited to a lot fashion shows, as a fashion consultant. I have done modeling as well for clothes, companies etc in Nigeria.
Finally, I am a business man. I export and import good as well.
La Mode: Tell us about your background
Kenechukwu: I am an Igbo, from Anambra state. I was born and raised in Enugu state in a family of 5 guys. I am the 4th child. I grew in up in a very strong Christianity home. Of course as you know 80% of Igbos are Christians. My dad is late, till then, he was a medical Doctor (a Surgeon) and my mom is a Doctor as well (PHD holder) in public health. Basically, you can say I come from a nerdy home (laughs).
Growing up was not that tough for me because I have elder brothers to look up to and there were always there for me, though I missed having a sister. I also have a loving mother who made sure I lacked nothing that my mates had or that I needed. My mother is my hero, she taught us to walk in Gods ways.
La Mode: Tell us about your brand
Kenechukwu: Like I said earlier, I am a business man basically I export anything that’s on demand for my customers, ranging from clothes, shoes, watches etc. As a fashion lover, it is easy from me to deal in this line of business.
I travel to Turkey, USA, and Vietnam for my business as I have partners that I work with in these countries. In fact many fashion stores in Nigeria can boast of their sales from my collection
Secondly, I deal on oil and gas parts, I mean downstream. some private oil companies get in touch with us to deliver stuff like gas meter, ball vaves, regulators, vaporizers, filters etc. Our products are imported from Italy and Germany. All that’s required is your requisition and requirements and we sort them and deliver.
La Mode: How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Kenechukwu: My love for fashion gave me the ideas and the drive. Growing up in a country like Nigeria, your friends want to see what you would be wearing, example if you are turning up for a birthday party, wedding, bar etc it’s a fashion crazy country. In the western world or in GCC countries, for example, people do not really pay much attention or detail on what you are wearing unlike Nigeria. You can literally cause traffic Jam in Nigeria because of your appearance. So knowing the category/ classes of my clients it is easier for me to work with their budget and know what they need. In Nigeria it’s all about class and level.
Also as an engineer, I decided to deal on what I knew best professionally. My colleagues in Nigeria who are into oil and gas started making requests, you know they say Igbo’s are business people. In this case as an Igbo man I do not waste opportunities, if it’s profitable. It could as well be risky but it’s all about risking and trying.
La Mode: What motivated you to be an entrepreneur?
Kenechukwu: I have always advised the younger ones, to help themselves and this must not be through crime. We Nigerians are
Going through the worst phase as citizens and this also slowed down a lot of things like businesses and the likes. However one should not give up, start a little and invest.
My child hood was not tough as I said earlier, however, I have had this thought that one day I will call my dad and he will remind me at what age he started making money or turn to your mom as mommas boy and she will remind you that she started hustling even before she met your dad. So to avoid this kind of conversations, I started saving up, even as a student, back in the days of unizik awka i was in a business partnership.
We had a big cosmetic shop in PH. So I have always had the drive to make it in life, never to be a burden to anyone and of course I couldn’t blame the government for my misfortune, I had to work my way up and certainly not through crime as most people believe to be the only way.
We all need a plan and discipline. If others can make it, you can make it too.
La Mode: What has been your biggest challenge?
Kenechukwu: I should say, the fear to fail. However, sometimes in life, we have to fail to learn. In fact failure is defined as the ‘first attempt in learning’. I have failed a couple of times, lost a lot of money, I have failed in some of my relationships as well but at the end of the day, the one that stands strong after a fall is brave. That’s what I have done countless times.
I have the desire to be great so failure is my biggest challenge and my love for being independent, however, I have the mental capacity to always bounce back and God has always been with me.
Back in the days I left my primary assignment during NYSC, went to Lagos to hustle, enrolled in some modeling agencies, I did some jobs and adverts for GLO and the rest got some cash then.so When I look back I smile coz I know to be where I am it took determination. This is because I went out of my comfort zone and took some amount of risk.
La Mode: What do you do for leisure?
Kenechukwu: I used to play football as a kid, now what I do is support my team arsenal fc. I love music, in fact I was a musician back in the days (I was a rapper).
We made records and featured some Enugu artist’s eg slow dog, TJ, Mr Moi etc. We did some productions from dekumzy and the rest. However, the desire died down as my parents wanted me to concentrate on studies. In fact I can rap better than some dumb artists of today. It’s funny how some people think am a musician because of my appearance. But I might go back to the studio, you never can tell.
I am not a club guy but sometimes I like chilling with my hommies to have a glass of champagne and beer.
La Mode: Does your company help the community where it is located (humanitarian service)
Kenechukwu: I am not currently based in Nigeria; however, I have on going plan to bring business back home. A fashion school is on the pipeline where I plan to employ the best to train those that want to learn more on fashion. It will be a big one and affordable. We will try to educate people that one does not need to break the bank to be fashionable. If you can afford brands / designers that’s good for you and nothing wrong with that. However, one does not have to steal to look good. My goal is to teach you how to combine and turn out good with the much you can afford. As we all know, there are no rules in fashion.
Secondly, we will have a laundry service and it will be huge. We will need 50 and above employees. This will be a well mechanized laundry. As I am talking to you, the machines and equipments are coming in.
I believe this will help to reduce the number of employment for the youths based in that location. I have a lot of projects coming up. God wiling we will achieve all that.
La Mode: If you have one piece of advice for someone starting a business, what will it be?
Kenechukwu: Don’t give up, have a plan and don’t get distracted. There is no short cut in life. Keep striving, be focused and always talk to God.