Alter Ego Clothing: “Apple is where I learned to “think outside the box” – Uche Nwagbo

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Tkbesh! Welcome and thanks for the opportunity again.

Uche: The pleasure is mine.

 

Tkbesh! Last time we met in Mississauga, Ontario – Canada you told us in a video chat who you were.For those that missed it, could you introduce yourself again?

Uche: I’m Uchenna Nwagbo, a woman of many faces. A woman, a daughter, a sister, a lover, a fighter, a mentor, a student, a preacher.I’m everything I thought I would be and a mere shadow of what I could be.Do you want more? I’m a lover of life fighting internally for what I want to give out externally because my light shines from the inside out. Too much? How about I’m just Uche…a simple girl looking for her place in this beautiful yet complicated world. Canadian by Birth Nigerian by blood.

 

Tkbesh! A Nigerian born Canadian sounds interesting! What was growing up like for you here?

 Uche: Growing up in Canada was very interesting. Living in Montreal, Quebec and learning to speak French was a task I resisted at first. In later years I grew to appreciate being able to speak a second international language. Even though I grew up in a predominately white city I was always surrounded by the Nigerian community so even though I missed growing up in Nigeria I still felt ‘at home.’ When people ask me where I’m from my response is always Nigeria which perplexes them when they find out that I was born and raised in Canada. But the blood that flows in my veins, the way I reason, who I am IS Nigerian and I take pride in that. I may not be a ‘traditional’ woman by Nigerian standards but I know where my roots were firmly planted.

 

Tkbesh! Have you ever visited Nigeria? If yes, when and how was the experience for you?

Uche: I actually have been to twice. I had my first birthday in Nigeria and then my parents brought me back a year later. In 1989 at the tender ageof 8, we went back again when my maternal grandfather passed away.While we were there my mother who had a difficult time with my brothers rambunctious behaviour turned to him and said…”Remember all the times I said I would send you back to Africa? Well we are here now.” Her intentions where to send my brother to boarding school to get the right discipline and bring me back with her. But I was so close to my brother that I begged to stay. I ended up living in Festac for 2 years. I was young about 8-10 years old but it was some of the best years of my life. I was ‘home.’ It’s been over 20years since I’ve been back but I’m anxious to see how it has changed. I plan to head to Lagos soon for the Naija launch of Alter Ego Clothing.

 

 Tkbesh! During our last video chat you said you used to work for Apple. What did you do for them and what prompt you to leave? Apple is quite a big Corporation and if I may add most people would be happy working with them.

 Uche: Working for Apple shaped me. I started there in 2001 before it achieved the success you see today. It was an honour to be a part of such a dynamic and forward thinking company. I worked in the Finance department where I handled the accounts for the school districts and universities across Canada. Apple is where I learned to “think outside the box”. In a PC driven society it was ok to think different and not follow the status quo. After 7 years of working there I knew that I had gotten as far as I would go working for anyone and it was time to create my own box. This is how Alter Ego Clothing came about. It was time for me to take all that I had learnt and put it to good use.

 

Tkbesh! Alter Ego Clothing? Now that’s not only catchy but interesting! Why the name Alter Ego Clothing and what does Alter Ego specifically offers to the public?

 Uche: When a child is born,he is not conscious of himself. Only of the outward things that he sees through his senses. The ego is created by a reflection of that outward world. So when you tell that child he is great or handsome it creates and feeds his ego. This word ego has always interested me because of how powerful it is. The Ego is what shapes our perception of self. It can send an individual to new heights or the depth of disparity. When you speak of someone’s AlterEgo it is in essence that Ego stepping out of its shell. When a woman is putting on her makeup and high heels and a sexy dress, she should  feel that alter ego coming out empowered. When I decided to design and manufacture clothing there was only one thing to me that literally and figuratively transforms.The Corset, It redefines a woman’s body, her curves and her ego. She stands taller her busts are firm and her waist line is defined, Regardless of a woman’s size isn’t this what we all covet? So I made the corset the centre of my line and am slowly branching out to other items.

IMG_1536 IMG_1534 IMG_1531   Tkbesh! What is your educational background?

 Uche: I went to Vanier College in Montreal then Ryerson University inToronto. The 4 walls couldn’t hold me. I have a PHD in life.

Tkbesh! What does a director and founder of AEC do for fun?

Uche: Travel. It’s that simple.In fact my goal in life is to be able to have my laptop, phone and be anywhere in the world and run my company. Its freeing to be able to get off a plane in a foreign land and not know what amazing food, people and experiences you are about to encounter. When I’m in my home town I go to the club a lot because I love to dance. I close my eyes and live the music. And in the midst of hundreds of strangers and overpowering music I feel at peace. I also indulge from time to time in sushi with my girlfriends. The food ignites my taste buds with its f o r e i g n textures and tastes. It’s my favourite food apart from pounded yam and egusi. I also love reading. Reading helps me to escape from the here and now without physically leaving. My favourite author is Octavia Butler. She takes you on a journey out of this world.

 

Tkbesh! Are you married, single or in a relationship of any kind? Yes our fans including yours would want to know!

 Uche: It’s a question that I get a lot especially since I hit my 30s. I am happily…. single and loving life. I casually

Tkbesh! Why are you still single? Do you simply not have the time for men? Perhaps you are simply not ready?

 Uche: It’s not a matter of having time. I think that when someone is important to you, you find time in your day. The truth of the matter is I haven’t met the right one. I’m asocial woman always out and about town so I encounter men all the time,but they are not made for me. When I meet the one I’ll look into his eyes and know that I was taken from his rib and together we are now complete. I wrote a poem not long ago that describes my sentiment…

Tkbesh! If you were to have a change of career or weren’t behind AEC, what would you be doing? Considering takingback your job with Apple or what?

 Uche: I try never to look back. Apple was a step in my journey. As is AEC. I never limit myself to anything. When you have no boundaries the sky is the limit. What would I be doing? Dreaming up the next chapter and then putting in the work to create it. I’m a hustler in a good sense. I’m not bound by industry, location, education, experience. I go where my passion takes me… and if I’m not qualified I learn. I have friends that knew they wanted to be doctors or engineers since they were young. It wasn’t like that for me. It would behard for one thing to define who Uche is. I’m a jack of all trades and I’m not scared to try something new. In fact I thrive on it. Tell me that I can’t do something… it’s the best motivation in the world.

 Tkbesh! Do you have any word of advice for aspiring fans out there?

 Uche: There’s a philosophy that I live my life by and it’s very simple. Everything you touch you change…and everything that changes, you. The only constant is change. You can apply that to every aspect of your life. We always want to be where we want to be NOW. Well if you apply this rule you may not get there NOW but you will get there soon enough. Anything that is not growing and changing is dead so keep on developing yourself and success is inevitable. And learn from every experience.

Tkbesh! It has been fun knowing you and thanks for your time. We wish you continuous success!

Uche: Thank you very much

 

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