Thursday, March 16, 2017

Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo: Cee Cee’s Closet NYC

Cee Cee’s Closet NYC celebrates the unique beauty of West African prints and designs through its various handmade accessories. In addition, Cee Cee’s Closet NYC designs its products in Nigeria because the company wants to make a positive impact on the lives of its artisan partners. Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo are the dynamic duo behind Cee Cee’s Closet NYC and it was an honor to interview them.
KAY KAY: How would you describe your style?
Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo: We would say that we both have very different styles which help Cee Cee’s Closet NYC appeal to many people. Chioma likes more classic silhouettes and most often wears neutral colors. She will add bold accents from time to time, but she often prefers simpler styles. Uchenna loves pairing bold accent pieces with trendy neutral pieces. She is not afraid of taking risks in order to express herself through fashion, which can be seen in our most popular prints for Cee Cee’s Closet NYC.
KAY KAY: How would you describe the style of Cee Cee’s Closet NYC?
Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo: We like to think of Cee Cee’s Closet NYC as the perfect marriage of both of our styles. We feature both modern and old school prints that can bring any look to the next level.
KAY KAY: What was your background before you opened Cee Cee’s Closet NYC?
Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo: We are both recent college graduates. Uchenna has experience in finance, non-profit, and education. Chioma has experience in finance and consulting.
KAY KAY: What was the hardest part about opening Cee Cee’s Closet NYC?
Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo: The hardest part of opening Cee Cee’s Closet was climbing the learning curve of e-commerce. First, we had to realize what we did not know about e-commerce. Then, we had to teach ourselves everything from basic coding to photography so that we could provide our customers with a beautiful, seamless shopping experience.
KAY KAY: Where do you see yourself and Cee Cee’s Closet NYC in the next five years?
Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo: We hope to expand internationally and broaden our product offerings. We are so excited about the things we in-store for this year!
KAY KAY: What do you love the most about Cee Cee’s Closet NYC?
Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo: We love our customers, the artisans we work with, and the communities that we have been able to create along the way. We could not do what we do without their support.
KAY KAY: What made you want to open Cee Cee’s Closet NYC?
Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo: We wanted to find a way to express ourselves creatively while also having a sustainable economic impact on the community that has given us so much.
KAY KAY: How did you get started opening Cee Cee’s Closet NYC?
Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo: We founded Cee Cee’s Closet NYC after a trip to Nigeria. Chioma brought back these beautiful Ankara print clutches that both of us fell in love with! We saw that all of our friends fell in love with the bags as well. Later, Uchenna designed some bags, created them with the help of Nigerian artisans, and tested the market to see if we could sell them in the United States. After positive responses from our customers, we both collaborated to design different bags that were handmade in Nigeria. It was extremely important to us that the bags were made in Nigeria by local artisans to ensure that we were not only celebrating the beauty of West African culture and design, but also the craftsmanship of local artists. After selling handbags exclusively for a few months, we decided to expand into other accessories such as headwraps and jewelry. We literally couldn’t find any headwraps that suited our personal styles. Therefore, Uchenna took a trip to Nigeria to help us expand into headwraps, and they have now become a significant part of our business.
KAY KAY: What advice would you give to future designers and entrepreneurs?
Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo: The best advice that we can give a future designer and/or entrepreneur is to just get started. The timing will never be perfect, and you will never know everything before you start, but Google is a great teacher. You can get really far with dedication and support from friends and fellow entrepreneurs.
KAY KAY: How did you come up with the name Cee Cee’s Closet NYC
Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo: Hahaha, that’s a funny one. We went through a few names before we settled on Cee Cee’s Closet NYC. The Cee Cee is for Chioma and Uchenna’s nickname Chenny. And we put NYC in the name because New York is a huge part of who we are as well.
Photo of Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo: Property of Cee Cee’s Closet NYC

Photo is the property of Cee Cee's Closet NYC

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