Can you become a success story at 19 and can marketplaces work such as depop?
How I Became My Own Boss at 19:
To people that may not know you, who are you?
I feel like people probably know my brand more than they know me! I’m Naomi Okezie, I’m 19 years old and I am the founder & CEO of AngelMarketplace.
How Did You Get Into Fashion?
I’ve always had a passion for clothing, but I wasn’t always fashionable. My love for fashion developed after I left secondary school. I was bullied a lot when I was in school for how I looked. I was super nerdy, barely wore makeup so you could see all my acne and stuff. I got called every name under the sun, to my face and behind my back. At the time, it was a really painful experience, but it allowed me to find my love for fashion. When I left school, I had zero self-confidence. I didn’t like how I looked, so I looked for escapism. Something people would look at rather than my face, and it became my clothing.
Clothing was my escapism. It allowed me to express myself and it brought out my inner confidence. Even if I completely hated how my face looked, at least my outfit was on point. I slowly began experimenting with fashion and different trends. I remember I had this pair of dungarees and velvet block heels. That was my go-to college outfit, it was simple, it showed off my figure but wasn’t too out there. It’s only been in the past year and a half that I’ve really started delving into all styles and aesthetics.
How did you go from wearing clothing, to selling it?
I went through a really bad experience with money in 2019. It was my first year of University and the first time I’d ever had £1,000 in my bank account. When you’re young, you think a grand is a lot of money. But it’s really not! I’d paid my rent 3 months in advance and thought ‘I could do with some clothes’, before I knew it, I’d spent my entire student loan in the space of 48 hrs.
I had no savings account, nothing.
Even doing 15hrs a week at my part-time job wasn’t covering all of my expenses. I remember it came to Christmas and I couldn’t afford my rent or any presents for my friends and family. I had about £3 to my name, if that. It hurt a lot, especially because I love treating my friends and family & I couldn’t. I realised that I never wanted to be in that financial position again and decided I HAD to do something about it.
One of the girls I went to college with, was selling on Depop and she was doing really well (Still is!) and I wanted to do something similar but wasn’t sure how.
So, I started selling my old clothes from my wardrobe. Keep in mind that I LOVED fashion, with my whole heart. I remember crying when I was deciding what to sell because they were clothes that made me feel confident. But I had to let them go or else I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent. As much as it pained me to sell my old clothes, I quickly realised how much I loved selling! The hustling for sales, modelling the clothes, taking the pictures were all things I loved. But my favourite thing of all, was packaging orders.
So, you started selling your old clothes, how did you turn it into a profitable business?
Lockdown happened and my work closed down. I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep my job or even get paid. I needed another stream of income. My Dad thought I should take Depop seriously and I agreed. The first thing to decide, was a name. I originally decided on ‘KELECH1.CO’ but I didn’t vibe with it. I remember being sat in my living room one evening and my Dad randomly said, ‘What about AngelMarketplace?’ I instantly fell in love with it! My brand tagline is ‘Home of The Angels’ so it felt fitting.
After I had a name, next thing was stock.
What was I going to sell? What aesthetic was I going for? Y2K? Grunge? Vintage?
I don’t think my brand necessarily has an aesthetic to it. It kind of represents my wardrobe and my style. I would never sell anything that I wouldn’t wear. I think people can tell when you’re not passionate about what you sell. I did tons of research on production factories, whom did I want to source from? After I found my suppliers, it was a matter of ordering the stock, modelling it and getting it sold. I did a super small order. Around £100 in value. Because I thought it would take a while to sell. In fact, I didn’t think it would sell at all!
As it turns out, my first stock drop sold out in just under two weeks. That’s when I knew I had something cool on my hands.
From there, it was about increasing investment in stock, improving my packaging and networking.
AngelMarketplace becomes a profitable business, what was the next step?
I’m a firm believer in always improving everything I do. From a young age, my Dad always said to me ‘Make your good, better and your better, best.’ That quote has stayed in my head for the large majority of my life, especially in business. I was selling regularly on Depop, around 30-40 sales a month. I wanted more.
I decided to create a website for my brand. It’s had a few sales, but I think people don’t necessarily trust websites. I needed another selling website/source.
A major question that we all want to know, how did you get on ASOS Marketplace?
One of my super close friends, that also sells clothing, (Vintage menswear), recommended me to her account manager at ASOS and it just spiralled from there. I got an email about 3 hours later asking me to open a boutique with them and of course I jumped at the opportunity.
Who doesn’t want to sell their brand on a major platform like that?
What 3 Things Have You Learnt So Far?
- Get investment and support wherever you can! People are here to help you. Not everyone. But a large majority. If you can get help, do it. I’m so fortunate that my parents invested in my brand. They believed in me. It gave me the belief that I could really make a success of myself.
- Ask and you shall receive. This is probably the main thing I’ve learnt. You don’t know unless you ask! Never think that something or someone is above you. Make the right connections and you’ll go far. Even if you ask and they say no, you’ll still gain a potential future connection from it.
- Be grateful. Always. I highly recommend that if you want to be successful, you NEED to read ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne. It’s all about positive thinking and manifestation. How to make the Universe work in your favour. The main thing it reminds you to do, is to always be grateful. Be thankful for the blessings in your life, for the experiences, the opportunities. Be thankful for it all. I always say, ‘you can be born into any life’ and it reminds me to give thanks to the fact that I was gifted with such an incredible life and environment. It hasn’t always been easy, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Finally, What Do You Have Planned for The Future?
I’d love to go into AngelMarketplace merch and eventually menswear too! I’d probably create a brother brand for it but be equally as involved in the process. I’m always looking at the next big thing I can be doing. Recently, Imogen Horton (@Imogenation_) talked about my brand on a YouTube video and that was MAJOR for me! I also hit 100 sales on Depop, which was another incredible milestone. Now that that’s happened, I’m excited to see what will happen next!