Omotayo Rilwan Okoya is one of Nigeria’s young and enterprising CEOs and proponent of the World Black Fantasy (WBF).
With an international network starting with his base in Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE), the bundle of talent’s forte lies in fashion, animation, graphics designing and modelling.
In the last five years, the Nigerian entrepreneur of international repute has been able to inspire a reawakening in the youthful population through his platforms including clothing and accessories. In this interview, the unassuming young CEO opens up on his WBF brand, the inspiration behind it and his many charitable activities, including his environmental initiative.
Asides being the CEO of World Black Fantasy, you are known as a fashion entrepreneur. Why did you choose fashion as a career?
Fashion is not really my career, it is merely a part of what I do in the creative industry. I am a content creator, so sometimes that translates to fashion, animation, graphics, modelling.
How did you decide on the name, World Black Fantasy, and does it mean it’s strictly about the black race?
The idea of Black fantasy started one day in secondary school during our prep night. Right there, I drew an entire fashion collection. Over the years, it became a worldwide thing. The brand is a lifestyle, it is my lifestyle as an individual of the society on a day-to-day basis. At the end of the day, I am also a black man in society so it’s like a story I am telling as an artist, but this is how I am representing myself.
It doesn’t mean it is strictly about the black race, it just means that I am a black man telling my story from my perspective of the world. There is a story behind everything I produce. It doesn’t strictly mean it’s about black people, it is just my story of the world from my perspective.
Tell us about the inspiration behind WBF?
My brand is inspired by my passion for creativity, this was what led me into studying animation at the university. It broadens my creative ability which is represented in my brand. For instance, my designs are not just ordinary designs they are 3D art to be worn as clothes rather than hung on the wall. They are all limited pieces to preserve their uniqueness.
Many describe your products as unique, unusual; can you explain why?
When it comes to WBF, as a 3D artist I make renders and put them on clothes. I also have a background in graphic design. I learnt while interning, I learnt the software myself, and today I use these designs on my pieces.
I push boundaries with this because, in today’s society, 3D in high fashion is very unique. So, when you add 3D designs to high fashion, you get something exquisite, and that’s how I push boundaries through fashion.
Against the odds, you have managed to build an international brand to reckon with. What has been your secret?
Well, my main success secret is passion, I believe whatever you want to do, you need to add passion to it. Honestly, if I didn’t have passion for what I am doing I wouldn’t hold on to my vision for so long. So, the key points in brand building are quality and passion. Today, WBF is an international brand. We are known in Dubai and Nigeria as a brand that among other things delivers dope streetwear pieces.
What were some of the challenges you faced while trying to build the brand?
I believe that when you want to start any business, you will go through ups and downs, you will lose money along the way but you just have to be patient, take your time so you don’t lose faith in your vision. Some of the challenges I faced is what anybody who is starting any business would face. Sometimes, I felt like my merchandise is not really selling at the right place, at times I feel like I am not producing at the right season.
I have been running WBF for five years. And it has been tough on me because I was in university while I was running my business. It was tough but I knew I had to focus. Once I was done with university, I registered WBF as a business. The greatest challenge I’ve faced so far is consistency because consistency is key. As of this year 2021, I’ve learnt how to be consistent and it has been going well.
You’re based majorly in Dubai. How easy it is to run a successful business in a foreign country especially as a Nigerian, tell us about that?
Yes, Dubai is a foreign country, but there are still Nigerians there making moves and pushing boundaries. We all make it work.
What are the success highlights of your career as a designer?
In 2020, I produced a collection called ‘Overdue Awakening’. The message behind this collection was that I was tired of people sleeping on me and it’s time for them to wake up. Everyone loved the collection. Ever since everything has been up for me. Also, during the heat of the Coronavirus season, I produced a small collection called the New World collection and it also sold out.
Who would you say is your role model in business?
Internationally, Pharrell Williams. I really appreciate the work he has done because he has paved a way for us in the whole creative industry. In Nigeria, I will say Sujimoto.
You are about to launch a content creation studio in Nigeria and also in Dubai, meaning that the brand is growing steadily. Where do you see the brand in five years?
I know I produce good quality items, and I know the values of the arts, so by five years time, we will be looking at the consolidation of the brand’s growth. However, next year, the aim is for WBF to be represented at Paris Fashion Week. With that, in the next five years, the sky is not the limit, we are going to break through the sky and keep going shooting for the stars.
Tell us about your upcoming event?
This upcoming event on Saturday is a very casual event. I want people to come to have a good time, obviously to see the products physically, so I want to make it available for people in Nigeria to be able to have a hand in my products without paying for an international shipping.
You’re also into charity, what inspired your passion for humanitarian activities?
Giving back to society. It is a principle I was raised by. My mum is a Pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God and she always gives back to society. I learnt from her to do this from time to time.
What inspired your environmental initiative?
The initiative is in line with the WBF. The whole concept is to additionally give back to society by making the environment a better, healthier place. We started with the area I grew up in and we are progressing from there. Slowly but surely, Nigeria will become a better place. Once people can stop polluting the environment, I promise you will see the change.
Can you shed some light on the initiative?
In Tivoli Gardens, I have a cleanup initiative where people would come around to clean up the waterside.
Is it a one-off event or an annual event on a consistent basis?
Every time I am back in Nigeria, I ensure I do something to better society. I aim to be back frequently, and the goal is to clean the whole of Lagos regularly. But we have to start gradually so that we can grow organically.
What’s your favourite fashion accessory?
I would say rings. I like rings and I pay a lot of attention to the details of a ring. This brings us to the 18-karat gold WBF ring in my collection. The logo is at the top of the ring and “World Black Fantasy” is inscribed on the inside.
If you were to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Resilient, focused and determined.