Iconmode boss, Ivy Ekong takes over fashion and beauty market: ‘This is where I belong’
Nov 12, 2014
IVY EKONG BLOG
IVY Ekong is the Creative and Style Director of the UK-based Iconmode Company. Established in 2011, it is now a leading fashion and style consulting firm, spreading its tentacles across the globe. Ivy who styles and handles personal images of high profile clients, including celebrities, politicians and top models in Nigeria, London, Paris, Dubai and other parts of the world, shared the vision, mission and future of her well- sought after brand with ENCOMIUM Weekly.She also unveiled her signature jobs, family, hobbies, among others.Can you please give us a brief insight into your background?I have two children. So, I’m a mum, wife, entrepreneur, Fashion and Lifestyle blogger and more…I’m the CEO of IconMode. We are into personal styling, beauty and luxury goods. I attended Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma where I graduated with two degrees in Business Management and Economics, respectively. I trained in Personal Styling and Image Consultancy through the well-known Colour Me Beautiful Academy located in the world’s fashion capital, London, United Kingdom. I am a very loving and easy-going person who dedicates her time and money to good causes. What is the concept of IconMode all about? When IconMode was launched, we started with offering just services to our clients. Now, we sell authentic pre- owned timeless luxury designer items, such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Christian Louboutin, amongst other high end designers. We had a lot of clients who have requested for this service for quite some time now. This is because our clients who are high profile individuals invite us for a wardrobe styling at their homes. During the wardrobe styling, we realise they have all these luxury items which they haven’t worn or have slightly worn and because they can afford to buy a lot of them, they wear it once or twice and let it sit in their closet after that. What we then do is we collect these items and sell to people who want to wear designer items but are not able to afford a brand new one. We also have a virgin human hair collection in IconMode’s name. We are currently working on a costume jewellery line “for that woman who is not afraid to make a bold statement.” It would be launched next year. We are now in the early stages of developing our cosmetic line. We will continue to improve our services and the products we offer. Who are some of your clients? It would be difficult to list our major clients, some of whom would rather prefer not to be mentioned. But Iconmode has arguably taken over the industry, with due respect and all sense of modesty. We’ve worked for Ouch boss, Uche Nnaji. We styled his fashion show at AFWL. We have also worked with Adebayo Jones, who is like a brother to me. We have done countless jobs. The endless list includes up and coming artistes as well as Nollywood stars like Ruth Kadiri and Nkiru Umeh. We’ve worked with ex-Miss Nigeria UK, Chichi Okafor. We were her image consultants for a year, along with other top models who have a yearly contract with us as well. I have met Omotola Ekeinde, though we didn’t style her. I only had a meeting with her, regarding the colours she should be wearing for her skin tone. So, would you say Nigerians are now appreciating styling? I believe personal styling is not a luxury and must not be for the rich and famous, anymore. Feeling confident about your body and personal style is an absolute necessity, irrespective of one’s shape, size, age, race, budget or lifestyle. There is no second chance to show your style. First impression matters. Why not just make it the first time. Empowering men and woman through effective styling and making them confident enough to achieve their personal goal brings me great joy. Since competition is obviously high in your sector, what are your plans to penetrate the Nigerian fashion and beauty industry? First, I am a Nigerian, although I’m also British, this is my country and I’m very familiar with how things work here. A lot of Nigerians are very well travelled and we have worked with some of them, both here in Nigeria and those who visit London from Nigeria. Like I always say, fashion evolves and very fast too. The Nigeria fashion industry is growing and designers I looked up to while growing up such as Tiffany Amber, Idacouture and the rest of them, had a dream just like me. And today, they have been able to position their brand in a high profile manner. We already have high profile private clients in Nigeria and we keep getting more clients based on their referrals. My believe is that if you are passionate about what you do and you do it well, people will find you, no matter where you are or the cost. Interestingly, we currently have an office/studio in London and we are working on having one in Abuja in addition to what we’re developing in Lagos. What really prepared you for IconMode? I have always known what I wanted to do and be, even at a tender age. I had a dream and I’m currently living the dream. IconMode which means ‘Fashion Icon’ is a business name I picked out when I was just 13 years old. I wrote down the name in my diary and said, one day that name will be a household name. I will change people’s lives and career through effective styling. I also worked in a bank (Zenith Bank) for some time, not because I loved working in a bank, but because it was part of the preparation process to get me to my vision. What later inspired you to open IconMode? I have been in the fashion industry since I can remember. I have always loved fashion, style and luxury. Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Beyonce, Grace Kelly, and Dianna Ross were all fashion icons I looked up to even at an early age. At the age of 8 I had my own unique style. My mom would always say, she is the fashion icon in the family, and I would laugh. When I was younger I used to style my friends, family and close relatives. They would seek my opinion before they put on or buy any outfit, and I would say, wear this with that, don’t wear that, etc. Sometime in 1999 a friend bought me a form to participate in a beauty pageant in Edo State. She said she knows I would win this because I am pretty, poise, and very fashionable. I took part in the pageant, designed and sketched all the outfits I wore to suit my style personality. Then I emerged the first runner up. After that pageant, I was invited to take part in another pageant in Esan, Edo State where I come from (Face Of Esan) and I won. This was where my career in the fashion industry took off. I would style myself to events because I was working with some politicians in Edo state to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS at that time. My position as a beauty queen took me to a lot of places, events, shows, charity balls, fundraising etc, and I was lucky to meet a lot of, and work with a lot of prominent people both in Nigeria and outside our shores and It all came very natural to me. During that time I knew I would one day change the way people see fashion in Nigeria. I saw the way celebrities presented themselves in public without giving a thought to what their look does to their image and how what you wear affects your image and your energy either positively or negatively as long as you’re in the public eye. This was what inspired me to start IconMode. In a nutshell, IconMode was first a dream that has now become a reality. So, what has been your experience in the last few years? IconMode, like you know was established in 2011, and since then we have had quite a good experience. The world is evolving every day. Men and women are more conscious of what they wear now. They are now also more interested in knowing and learning more about colours and styles that suit them. Celebrities also want a personal style that will speak for them. So yes, like every other growing business, we have sometimes experienced ups and downs but it hasn’t been bad at all. What would you say is your staying power in the business? We are unique in what we do. Our services are not meant for everyone because we are personal stylist, beauty and luxury lifestyle company. We have been able to keep the business alive because of the standard we have placed on our services. Our services are luxury services and not everyone can afford it. We have placed a premium on what we offer and how we offer it for those who are able to afford it. What should celebrities look out for from IconMode? IconMode offers services that are suitable for men and women who want to improve their personal style. Our services are not for celebrities alone, but we do offer personal image branding to celebrities who want to be known for a particular style and those who want their fans to be able to relate to their style. I believe that as a celebrity your style should be unique, relatable, and it should speak for you when you are present and when you’re not. I see some celebrities on social media especially on Instagram and when I see what they wear and the colours they wear, it make me so sad because they can do so much better. This is where we come in. It’s not only about fashion and style for us, we teach celebrities how to carry themselves in public, how to be poise, confidence building etc, because these all are part of being stylish. We currently have contracts with some celebrities both in Nigeria, United Kingdom, Dubai and other parts of the world and we have successfully turned their style around. When I say celebrities, I do not mean only actors and actresses. I am referring to high society women, socialites, politicians and their wives, artistes, designers, top bankers, corporate executives, and even top stylists. What does fashion and style mean to you? In my years of experience in the fashion industry, I have come to realise that fashion is the clothes you wear but style is what defines you and separate you from the rest. Like Yves Saint Laurent rightly said, “Fashion fade, style is eternal.” I believe that the fashionable woman wears clothes. The clothes don’t wear her. I have met clients who have so much money but do not know what suits them, the best colours for their skin tone and even where to get outfits for their body type. I always say that the way you dress defines you and your personality. Your style says whom you are without you speaking. As the world evolves, fashion is also evolving and we should try to evolve with it too. Style is like spicing up your marriage to make it more interesting and not having to do the same thing every day. These are my views about fashion.