Igee Okafor, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of BOND OFFICIAL, is a determined business man and personal style connoisseur whose significant point of view on essential articles of men’s clothing has sealed his position as an industry authority.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Igee moved to the United States alongside his family to further his learning experience. In 2013, he moved to New York City to attend St. John’s University where he studied Business and Marketing.
With a keen interest and enthusiasm for cultural endeavours that lie in music, fashion, food, and travel, Igee started contributing articles as an intern for Jones Magazine and the Source in the spring of 2014. In 2015, he worked directly under CEO Of Nylon Media And Socialyte at the time, Daniel Saynt. In continuing efforts to tackle digital marketing while also running www.igeeokafor.com full time as a men’s style blog, Igee successfully secured collaborations with some of the industry’s most respected tastemakers including MR PORTER, GQ, Carl F. Bucherer and more.
Igee has since positioned himself as a distinguished exemplar of conviction, entrepreneurship and artistry.
The Lagos Today got up and close with Igee Okafor to learn more about him and the BOND OFFICIAL brand.
LT – Can you give us a brief introduction about yourself and what you do?
Igee – I was born in Lagos, Nigeria! I grew up in Nigeria up until I was 14. In the holiday of 2008, I moved to the U.S. and attended Bethel High School in Hampton Virginia, and then I moved to New York City for college at St. John’s University in Queens, New York. Harassed a few companies for fashion internships and ended up really getting my start working as a fashion and events writer for a number of publications.
I believe I had started a self-titled personal blog around that time to document personal revelations about style as a form of self-expression. Aggressively sent more emails for fashion jobs and ended up working as an intern assisting at Nylon Media/Socialite under one of the founders, Daniel Saynt. Wasn’t there too long. Right after, I signed up for a job to be the social content creative director of a cashmere brand called Citizen Cashmere. Post Citizen Cashmere, I was able to get a job at a digital agency called The 88 in the summer of 2016.
Graduated from St. John’s University with a Bachelor’s in Marketing in the summer of 2017 and briefly worked at another digital agency called Plus 1. Those experiences were great!
After that experience, I realized working on my own terms was what I loved. I decided to go on my own taking igeeokafor.com full time with support of consulting, and influencer marketing.
In 2019, my team and I launched BOND OFFICIAL and here we are with me as acting founder, and Editor-In-Chief.
LT – Where did you grow up and what was growing up like?
Igee – I like to think I’m still growing up but in the context of your question, I was in Nigeria most of my life. My family had been in Nigeria for generations and growing up in the 90’s and early 00’s. There was love, security, pampering and I was generally happy.
One of my favourite things was to entertain people. Whether it was trying to get them to laugh or forcing them to watch me perform at a school play. I liked making things and designing things whether it was in a colouring book or shifting furniture around my room to make it look more fashionable or simply different.
LT – Tell us about the ‘BOND OFFICIAL’ brand?
Igee – I launched BOND OFFICIAL last year with my team. We are a new men’s publication looking to empower and push the narrative of what it means to be impactful in niche media heavily influenced by moral themes of the Me Too movement and what it means to foster community. Through uninhibited interviews on the main site, our podcast How He Does it, and our subsite, The Journal, we highlight a variety of men we believe are contributing to shaping modern day culture. BOND OFFICIAL is education in the engaged format I would have wanted as a kid.
LT – What inspired the BOND OFFICIAL Brand?
Igee – We are cultivating an online media platform for men who are looking for interpersonal inspiration that enhances the most realistic picture of the modern man. Assembled into subject related collectives, our editorial features serve as an inspiring way to explore and inspire the curious.
Aside from the content, we partner with brands who we feel align with our values for in person events and products that serve functionally and sustainably in people’s lives.
Education is the product but from an interpersonal vessel.
LT – How has the journey been so far?
Igee – It has been a roller coaster in the most interesting way possible. We’ve had some really amazing highs and some challenging lows. We are constantly learning and educating ourselves on our place in the industry and the industry itself as an entity. We have such a strong foundational team and thankfully, it’s what has been keeping our vision afloat. We are learning how to take our time.
LT – What are the challenges you have had to overcome in building the ‘BOND OFFICIAL Brand’?
Igee – Perhaps the same challenges as any other new business in this day and age. It’s such a complex conversation because every aspect of the business is challenging. From accounting to creating suitable business plans to even casting for stories and production.
Throughout our journey so far, we’ve really had to start from scratch so you can imagine the various challenges we’ve had to face going into the industry with nothing but a leap of faith and very quickly. I’d worked in media but not from an Editor-In-Chief or Founders position so learning what that meant for the company was challenging because I had more than one role to settle into and quickly.
The idea was to launch a passion project so I’m not sure my team and I anticipated the ultimate reaction we received. Our launch analytics in the first week were really great and we knew we were on to something so we went full on with production every week even launching a podcast to support. We also were able to loop in advertisers and collaborators pretty quickly.
As our tasks began to grow, the team had to grow because division of labor is key to effective work. We are still working with a pretty small team so you can imagine the pressure having to work on tight deadlines and such.
Everything begins to add up too, and you realize it’s such an expensive industry. Finding a steady groove with the order of operations in a business that changes so quickly has been challenging but we are only a year and a few months in and I believe we are doing well with all of the things we’ve decided to be invested in.
LT – How would you suggest content improvement to editors?
Igee – You really have to ask yourself what the goal is. What kind of content do you want to put out? Do you want something that is signature to you? Do you want to be popular on social media? Do you want to be known as a visual brand? Deal with the core goals you feel are necessary first and as you graduate into other matters, you adjust accordingly and with a diverse team that’ll give you solid opinions to make instinctive considerations with.
LT – How would you describe the voice of your brand?
Igee – We’re thinking globally. Intelligent men with individual style in overall culture and opinion. This man is not afraid to educate himself or spark their own curiosities for empowerment and inspiration.
LT – Describe a time you worked with your team on a challenging project.
Igee – Launching and running BOND OFFICIAL on its own is a challenging project.
LT – How has BOND OFFICIAL impacted the world at large?
Igee – We have a foundational team filled with minorities who really believe in the power of taking action and I hope we can represent our communities well and be an example of what it looks like when we collaborate to take action for change in industries that are not so known for prioritizing social good or ethics.
I don’t know if we’ve impacted the world at large just yet but that’s definitely the goal. Right now, the goal is really to empower a world where transparency, inclusivity and education is at the forefront of eliminating what we see as toxic masculinity.
If we can continue to editorialize and prioritize examples of this goal to help groom the younger generation in various content genres, we are happy.
LT – Can you tell us a bit about THE BLACK IN FASHION COUNCIL?
Igee – Sandrine Charles and Lindsay Peoples Wagner launched the Black In Fashion Council as a reaction to the calling out and “cancellation” of certain fashion brands for insensitive behavior and action towards black people and culture. The idea is to work with these fashion brands to increase/secure diversity and advancements of black people in the industry.
It’s a movement I heavily support so I shared it and will do what is required of me to help how best I can.
LT – Seeing that you have modelled so many brands in the line of fashion, would you consider a career in modeling?
Igee – I don’t know that I am self-secure enough to be a full time model. It’s fine that I get to do it the way I do now because I have control over what brands I choose to work with, production, and the logistics that follow.
I wouldn’t rule it out but I’m not sure it’s something that is at the forefront of my mind. It’s a really tasking job and I very much admire all of the male models who are strong enough to keep up, keep on and apply themselves.
LT – What is your philosophy of life?
Igee – What I am learning everyday is that a lot of the ideas of how we choose to live life “well” are constructs. To a certain extent, we really have to learn how to embrace “the ride”. Life is a learning process and when you make mistakes, you have to be humble enough to acknowledge, accept it, learn from it, and move on efficiently.
LT – What is your greatest achievement so far?
Igee – I’ve done so many things I never thought I’d be able to do until I was 30 years old or older. I will say, it feels good to feel like I am creating some sort of a legacy that serves as inspiration and motivation for someone else.
LT – What are some of the challenges you have faced as an editor?
Igee – As Editor-In-Chief, most of the challenges lie in being able to create written and visual storytelling that is relevant, impactful and signature to the brand. Casting features can be a challenge, the order of operations for production can be a challenge, editing story narratives can be challenging. I mean, it really varies. Pretty much, it’s important to have a perspective plan but always be ready to do a complete 180. Most of the time, how you planned it isn’t what’s always best when presented with the finished product.
LT – Describe your style in 3 words?
Igee – Edited, Comfortable, Glamorous.
LT – You are very fashionable. What inspires your style?
Igee – Thank you! And various things. I’m attracted to anything that makes me feel like an elevated version of myself and I’ve been exposed to this education of what that means for me through various expressions of art. Mostly movies, fashion editorials, music and what I am attracted to on everyday people.
LT – What were the challenges you faced building your brand as a Nigerian in Diaspora?
Igee – I think a lot about this but in all genuinity, I’m not sure any of the challenges I faced were as a result of me being Nigerian. At least right now, not to my knowledge. The challenges faced always resulted from day to day operations in running said brand. Moving at first, I did worry a bit about how I would get to meet and work with people who would help advance my career but it has all been a matter of cause and effect. Like most well to do people, I’ve just had to take the first step and luckily the internet allowed for exposure for those opportunities.
Maybe it’s luck, maybe it’s hard work, maybe it’s both. I think it’s both. When I really care about accomplishing something, I seldom let external factors influence my drive and I owe this to the way I was raised by my parents.
LT – A lot of your contents on social media are mostly about fashion and lifestyle. Why is that?
Igee – My claim to a social media career was creating content around my thoughts on menswear and lifestyle endeavours as a new New Yorker at the time since I had just moved for college. I ran a full time personal blog during, documenting details about the aforementioned and I used social media to promote those articles and it stuck. I still love menswear and I’m curious about exploring how I can alternatively express my ideas and opinions on the platform in ways I haven’t before. Perhaps grooming for a potential fashion/lifestyle I’ve always wanted. I’m really interested in other forms of the arts and I hope moving forward, I can incorporate that too.
LT – Who is your fashion role model?
Igee – I am really inspired and fascinated by Tom Ford’s way of doing things.
LT- Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Igee – I don’t think I’ve ever visited a specific vacation spot more than once but France, and Italy remain no brainers for me.
LT – Where can people follow you?
Igee – I use Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter mostly and my handle is @igeeokafor on all platforms.
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