As a fashion illustration and an upcoming designer, I’ve gotten to understand how essential a fashion illustrator is to the fashion industry, hence the special likeness for digital fashion illustrators I’ve always had. For me, creating a beautiful design from nowhere is a rare gift. This was one of the main reason I literally fell in love with our Dav-Oz Blog Person of the Month for April, Meshach Obinna Nwakerendu; an all-round fashion icon who’s gradually paving his way to fame through his fashion creativity. He’s a model, a fashion designer, a stylist, a fashion illustrator and the CEO of the rising star brand; Mimi O Keren Fashion Empire. I had the privilege and the honor of chatting with him last month and I can tell you it was an eye opening session. He basically communicates on how he went on from illustrating as a hobby to making illustration as a source of income for him. He also describes how it was growing up in an igbo community as a boy who was so into the female fashion and the stigma that comes with it. Read below for the full interview:
DOB: Good Evening, Sir. Hope you’re good?
MON: Yes, I am good. Thanks for answering.
DOB: So this is usually the first question I ask; can we know a bit about you and your background?
MON: Ok. I’m from Umuahia South Local Government Area in Abia State; studied Banking & Finance at Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo Ohaji; I have 4 siblings and I’m the eldest of them all.
DOB: Wow, the Eldest; how does it feel being in that position?
MON: Well I feel honored, challenged and I see the need to be more. You know, we firsts have lots of responsibility and expectations.
DOB: Exactly. How do you cope with the pressure?
MON: Well, for me, I don’t let the pressure get to me, I basically do what’s needed and let things fall in place; this is also same with other phases of my life entirely.
DOB: Nice philosophy I must say. So What exactly do you do now?
MON: I’m an entrepreneur, a fashion consultant, designer and illustrator
DOB: So let’s talk about you and fashion; when would you say you realized you were meant to be in the fashion industry?
MON: Age 12. I have always loved colours and sketching; so at that age, most of my note book back cover or middle page will be drawings of women with clothes. My teachers then in primary and secondary school always complained (Laughs). Then my mom and dad at the other hand
DOB: Lolz, this reminds me a lot about myself. Mine even affected my exam question papers when I’m done writing the exams and I’m waiting for all to submit.
MON: Oh, this so funny but a memory that keeps you going (Laughs).
DOB: Exactly. Let’s talk about your parents, your family in general, how did they feel when you began illustrating? Was there any one in your family who thought that maybe this was just a phase in your life that would soon pass?
MON: Yea, all; my mom, dad, family members, friends; the discouragement came from so many corners.
DOB: And it’s a marvel you rose above all of them and you’re where you are now. How about your siblings, were they also against you at the time?
MON: Of course. They just kept watching. But then, they are my younger ones, so they didn’t really have a say on my career path.
DOB: I perfectly grab. When I began, I had my brother as my regular audience. I would always show him my sketches and he had no option but to comment on them
MON: Yeah, but in all; dedication, consistency, hard work and having a heart of rock matters a lot.
DOB: Always. So, would you say your background played a role in influencing your interest in fashion?
MON: Of course. It made me much stronger. You know when you have really seen some things, nothing’s new anymore. So yea, my background made my thirst for fashion triple.
DOB: Very true. So how did you go from sketching as a hobby to turning it into a full time business?
MON: Ok, I started from working as a freelancer to becoming a designer. The first fashion label I worked for was Maffa Couture. Most wouldn’t give me an opportunity so I’d go as far as convincing them to let me work for free so they can see the value and benefits of my gift. I also trained most fashion schools. I eventually got inspired by top fashion designers and illustrators, It was the inspiration that made me interested in making it a full time business. I was like “yes, if they can, I can too”.
DOB: Wow, that’s impressive. So, you taught in fashion schools?
MON: Yes, currently tutoring in a number of fashion schools even.
DOB: Amazing. Soo, would you say it’s difficult to partner with people to promote your brand?
MON: Ok, lets say it all depends on the agreement I have with the individual. Every brand should have terms and conditions; that way, it’s not difficult to partner or work with people. But so far they have tried one way or the other. Name them; Mercy Aigbe, Ini Edo, Obitaris, Uche Elendu, Mercy Johnson and so on.
DOB: Now, you’ve been recognized by quite a number of big celebrities over the years on social media, which would you say has been your biggest ‘pinch me’ experience thus far as regards acknowledgement or recognition by a celebrity?
MON: (Laughs) Ok, I can’t really say but most times, when I see the tag am like “WOW! Thank you”. It’s just like when you get gifts surprisingly.
DOB: Which of them would you say surprised you more?
MON: All of them give surprise me. (Laughs)
DOB: So gun to your head, what’s your favorite illustration you’ve ever done and why would you choose it?
MON: I don’t have any favourite (Laughs), I love all because work was put to all.
DOB: So that means you should be shot. (Laughs)
DOB: So can you walk us through a day in your life?
MON: Ok, what aspect?
DOB: Like in general, what is a normal day for you, with regards to what you do?
MON: Ok. Busy, tight schedules, having to meet up with one or two deadlines. For instance, I’m just returning home now from where I went to lecture at a fashion house. So everyday there’s always one or two targets to meet up with.
DOB: Nice. What would you say you love most about what you do?
MON: The part where I get to lecture people and impact one or two ideas in them and being able to make them understand the message I’m passing across; it’s a fulfillment that I’m able to share my gift.
DOB: I must say, that’s so endearing about you. And what is the most challenging thing about your job?
MON: Having to meet up with deadlines. You know, different fashion brands with different expectations.
DOB: I get, It’s almost the same everywhere. So, how long would you say it takes you to create a design?
MON: Well, normal sketch takes 10 minutes; digital sketch, an hour or so, depending on what I’m creating, I love details a lot
DOB: And it’s evident in your designs
MON: Thanks a lot.
DOB: You mentioned earlier that you’re a fashion designer, so have you released any fashion line before?
MON: Yea, I’m working on a collection currently also.
DOB: That’s good. Can we have an Idea of what it’s going to be?
MON: Uhm, don’t want to spoil the surprise. So basically wait till it’s out.
DOB: No problem. We’ll be waiting earnestly.
MON: Great! Just be expecting to see nothing but the best of Art-Meets-Fashion basically
DOB: I can imagine how lovely it would be. So who would you pick as your role model in fashion?
MON: A couple of people inspire my aesthetics, from their choice of accessories to their style Pipicolo, The lady Vhodka, Mercy Aigbe, Moschino, Beyonce, The Orange Nerd, Kie-Kie, Rihanna etc. All combinations just give me more inspirations to create, as they never joke with their fashion sense.
DOB: Quite notable fashion icons you mentioned there. So, what advice would you give to someone wanting to become a well-known fashion icon like yourself?
MON: Be consistent, make more research, keep working on being the best you can be even when you think you’re already the best.
DOB: So final question, what’s next now for you? Is there any project coming up so we can mark the date?
MON: Of course there is, expect nothing less.
To get to know more of Mr. Nwakerendu, below are his social media handles:
FaceBook: Meshach Obinna Nwakerendu
Or you can contact him via whatsapp on +234 706 550 4332