While many of us have our go-to fashion gurus we follow religiously on social media, how many of them actually design and create the clothes they model? With her African-inspired pieces, Amarachi Ukachu has built a self-titled brand on bold patterns and beautiful messages of self-love. Though her passion for sewing and fashion started at an early age, it wasn’t until college that she learned how to step outside of her comfort zone and create an amazing fashion experience for a large audience. Find out more about her journey below.
Occupation: Designer and Curator, AmarachiUkachu.com
College or University: University of Maryland
Secretly Obsessed With: I have the weirdest obsession with lemonade. I request a glass anytime I dine out.
On My Nightstand: I don’t have one (I’m too hipster) but next to my bed I have baskets full of fabric.
Last Thing You Read: Let it Go by T. D. Jakes
How did you get started?
At the age of seven, my mother purchased my sisters and me a kiddie sewing machine for Christmas, and that’s how I started to learn how to sew. My sisters quickly grew tired of it, but I never did. I loved it! As I got older, I discovered more ways to express my creativity through creating, like jewelry making, sculpting, and furniture design. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I really decided to dive into fashion. I showcased my designs in local fashion shows in the D.C. area, but I wanted to reach out to a larger audience, so I started AmarachiUkachu.com as my personal style diary.
What key elements played into your success?
Online networking and my social media presence played a big part in my success. Just like any other blog, I started with zero followers, and there was no such things as instant success. During my first year of blogging, my mother was my only reader. She only read it because I would harass her to look at my site anytime I posted a new entry, but slowly I started connecting and collaborating with fellow bloggers, which made my website take off. This support from fellow bloggers played a major role in my success. When they would feature me on their site, or just repost or reblog my content, it helped increase my following tremendously. You really have to see your social media network as a community, and find the people who share your interests and want to connect and collaborate. Building those relationships makes all the difference.
What’s the best piece of advice you received?
My mother is the kind of person that is always blurting out random quotes, but one that always stuck with me is, “If it frightens you, it’s worth pursuing.” I can vouch for that one hundred percent! I can be very shy and painfully awkward around new people, so networking and going to fashion events scared the crap out of me. But after continuously exposing myself to those events and that environment, I found it so much easier to talk to strangers. Later on, I realized that those events I was scared to attend are where I actually met some of the best people that I would have never met if I had stayed in my comfort zone.
What struggles did you face getting to this point?
Just trying to start your own business with no prior experience was a huge challenge. I majored in Behavioral Health in college, so starting up a business was completely foreign to me. There are so many pieces of the puzzle when it comes to creating and building a business, but you just have to search for the answers to your many questions. I did so much web searching when it came to marketing, financing and web developing for my brand. Google truly is my best friend.
Who was the biggest influence in your professional life?
It would have to be my family. My mother and three sisters have helped me out so much, whether it’s emotional or physical support. When I have my moments when I’m filled with self-doubt, they make it their job to let me know how talented I am. They have provided physical support where I’m behind on orders, and, as much as my sisters despise it, they will get behind a sewing machine and help me fill my order requests. They’re amazing!
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I would have to say I feel most successful when I read the countless emails from young women thanking me for teaching them to love their bodies for what they are. Knowing that I’m making a difference in someone’s life is very rewarding . Also, there is nothing like walking down the street and running into someone wearing your designs. To see that people are willing to invest in and wear your ideas is an amazing thing.
What advice would you give to girls looking to enter your industry/space?
“Everything you’ve ever wanted is one step out of your comfort zone” is not just a cute quote someone posted on Tumblr. It’s true! In order to get what you want, you need to step out of your comfort zone and not let fear paralyze you. Yeah. I know it’s scary at first, but you should be more frightened of the amazing opportunities you could miss!
Dying for a signature piece from Amarachi? Check out her site and order yours today.