With island getaways for field trips and products inspired by African royalty, Ify Yvonne brings a new standard to the world of business entrepreneurship with her brand Nkeoma by Ivy & Livy and mentorship with her academy, Hustle & Glow.
As a first-generation Nigerian-American in Ohio, Ify had always known she was cut from a different cloth; but she didn’t realize how valuable that was until her grandmother sewed it herself.
As children, they would mix and match outfits that would become the envy of their classmates. “That love for creating beautiful things for people we care about just stuck with us,” Nkeiruka Uradu, Ify’s sister, and co-creator of the brand.
While studying to be a pharmacist, Ify and her sister began ironing out a plan to continue the tradition of a garment making their grandmother had brought from Nigeria.
In 2015, the dynamic duo launched the loungewear brand, Nkeoma by Ivy & Livy. Affectionately named after their Nigerian and English names, the elegant designs are inspired by African aesthetic patterns like the bold Ankara print, traditionally reserved for royalty.
Since then, her brand has built nearly 50k followers on Instagram, and 100k on YouTube all by following her passion for creating and helping with intention. Ify credits her African roots for driving her to engage her business with the zeal of inclusion.
“Growing up in a Nigerian household within the American society, I have struggled with balancing Nigerian rules and morals with American culture. Nonetheless, I view those ‘struggles’ as a foundation for who I have become today,” says Ify.
It’s an unfortunate reality that the fashion industry lacks diversity, Ify tackled the problem on her own with loungewear but also sells cosmetic supplies that cater to an underrepresented demographic.
Not only is loungewear set to be a $10 billion industry by 2027, but it also captures Ify’s most salient lesson; to be comfortable in your own skin.
Helping You Help Yourself
In 2011, Ify has crowned Miss Africa of Southwest Pennsylvania and gained some substantial exposure that she turned into followers. With daily vlogs and savvy marketing techniques, she built her brand but as a self-made entrepreneur, she saw the value in helping others get to where she’s reached.
Passion begets passion and Ify found her niche with the business launch academy, Hustle & Glow. After successfully launching Nkeoma, reaching countries and customers around the globe, even stars like Insecure’s Yvonne Orji, Ify found her stride creating businesses.
Building a Brand for the Community
Ify takes mentorship and support to a whole new level with Hustle and Glow. From tackling textiles and manufacturing to diversifying social media marketing, Ify takes a holistic approach to her strategy.
“To be successful you have to get uncomfortable and navigate unknown territories,” says Ify. “Don’t consult with people that aren’t where you want to be or doing or have done what you are trying to do.”
Having grown her own brand and business with the help of online mentors like Julie Solomon, Ify share’s the importance of helping others better prepare their life for the world of success.
From mentality to actionable goals, Ify persists that success comes from “uncomfortable and unknown territories.”
For her, that was the textile and garment industry. As a Nigerian woman, she was met with her fair share of hurdles from manufacturing to distribution but with the right support system and mentorship leading her, Ify found herself attracting more than just customers.
Moving With The Motion of The Ocean
While her brand was growing with the clothing line, she had found a new demographic of budding female entrepreneurs in need of a mentor.
Being a leader in the industry of entrepreneurship takes more than a few motivational speeches and Ify capitalizes on this with Hustle & Glow’s “glow-up retreat.”
Along with strategizing and generating a sustainable source of income, Ify’s retreat serves as a community for like-minded individuals on their path to success.
But you don’t need to be on Hawaiian shores to get Ify’s advice, she offers free business insight on her website and guides you step by step throughout all of her endeavor’s with her YouTube channel.
Ify’s positivity and drive are infectious and she credits this attitude to being a Nigerian woman, “I know my different avenues of passions can be traveled at the same time.”
Whether you’re just getting started or are ready to launch your business, Ify champions taking initiative and believing in yourself.
Julie Solomon, the host of The Influencer Podcast, agrees in her episode that “[To Ify] You made the choice to start before you were ready, you made the choice to not wait around for anyone to give you the permission to do this, you didn’t let the fear of not getting it right or perfect stop you from getting started and that’s why you were rewarded.”
Tackling an industry as large as fashion is no small feat and while she looks and feels like royalty, Ify is primarily concerned with the needs of her customers.
“We want Black women to feel luxurious in our clothing because they deserve it,” said Madu. “We’ve built something that we’re truly passionate about in Nkeoma, and we want you to feel the same whenever you try, wear or use any of the products we’ve created with you in mind,”
One of Ify’s most important lessons is listening to your audience.
Hustle & Glow was born because of this lesson, according to Ify, “with the success of my business, I had a plethora of friends, family and my followers asking for help and guidance in building their own businesses.”
Adapting to new environments means allowing new opportunities to develop, something Ify has demonstrated with her academy and a new line of products under Nkeoma.
Creating For A Cause
Having grown her audience via social media Ify is familiar with the world of engagement and tailoring direction. Not only did this give her a leg-up on e-commerce markets, it positioned her as a creator that is prepared to go the extra mile for a satisfied client.
As businesses become corporations and corporations become conglomerates, Ify stands as a bastion for free enterprise and individual effort. While she might not be packaging and shipping all on her own anymore, Ify continues to lead the charge for female entrepreneurs and people of color.
Her testimonials exemplify this, as Monica Ezue, owner of Ziza writes, “I left the sessions feeling pumped and my goals now seem even more attainable. I also loved having that peer support/sisterhood, it is beautiful to see women wearing so many hats, encouraging one another, and doing so gracefully.”
With over 14 million views on YouTube, Ify shares her life’s challenges and accomplishments in hopes of inspiring others to do the same.
Breaking barriers and boundaries are just the starts for Ify and Nkeoma, as she says “this is only the beginning; I hope for growth in all my projects and a continuance in being a motivation and inspiration to people all over the world.”
Visit: Nkeoma By Ivy & Livy