Uduak: Entrepreneur, Model, Lawyer

Our goal is to become a full fledge online publication that serves as the authority on Africa’s fashion industry for the Western consumer and the Western fashion industry at large.

[Our Interview Of The Day]

Black Star Q & A

Black Star News: Tell us a little about where you were born and where you were raised and the most important things you learned from your parents or other relatives. 
Uduak Oduok: I was born in San Jose, California, USA. I was raised in Nigeria, West Africa till I was about 12 going on 13. From 13 onwards I have been raised in the USA. I’d have to say the most important thing I have learnt so far from my mother is that at the end of the day, your integrity is all you have. 

BSN: Where did you go to school and when did you launch your career?
UO: I went to college at San Jose State University and split my law school education between University of Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and Georgetown Law in Washington D.C. In terms of launching a career, as to my legal practice, I launched in 2001. As to fashion, I have been modeling since I was 15 years but it has always been part time.

Today, it serves more as a tool for me to use to brand my fashion projects including the recent launch of my company Ladybrille, www.ladybrille.com  an online fashion blogazine whose mission is several folds: one, to provide an alternative form of employment to African women in Africa who engage in commercial sex to make ends meet; two, to encourage entrepreneurism among African women globally and particularly in Africa; three, to de-stigmatize Africans as naked people running in the wild bush; four, to elevate and showcase Africa’s young, urban and explosive fashion industry; and five, to  encourage Trade not Aid to Africa.

I am attempting to fulfill these missions by having Ladybrille shine the spotlight on a largely ignored but very relevant industry: Africa’s Fashion Industry. Ladybrille highlights Africa’s luxury and affordable fashion products, fabrics, fashion weeks and trends, fashion and interior designers, photographers, music, arts, style icons, beauty, events, product reviews, fashion news and celebrities/celebrity interviews.

We also provide links to these sites where our very fashion forward readers can shop for or patronize these African businesses knowing that they can make a difference while staying fashionable. We also take it a step further by equipping, encouraging and empowering our readers including African fashion professionals to strive towards entrepreneurialship with very informative and entertaining articles on business, laws, finance, retail, marketing, media, public relations and jobs related to fashion. 

What stage do you consider your career to be at now?  
UO: Focusing on Ladybrille, it is in the infancy state right now. It’s only been about three months.

BSN: Where do you see it going and what’re your aspirations?
UO: Our goal is to become a full fledge online publication that serves as the authority on Africa’s fashion industry for the Western consumer and the Western fashion industry at large. The brand itself, Ladybrille, will ultimately be diversified into other fashion subsidiaries. For right now, our focus is on being the voice for a largely ignored market and women, the African fashion industry in Africa, the many women in Africa who help that industry thrive and the African woman in the USA and Europe that seeks fashion products that captures her 24/7 lifestyle of being African and Western.

BSN: Talk about some challenges and how you conquer them.
UO: I have been through so many challenges. I think that is part of life. I think one of the biggest challenges for me now because I just recently began confronting it, is learning to heal internally from a lot of pain caused by neglect and abandonment by my father. While I have made peace with him, it is still an ongoing process to come to certain realities of the past and let go so I can move forward emotionally. This is a common theme I find in the Black and also African communities. It is something that I think we need to focus on helping today’s Black/African mothers and fathers train the next generation of Black fathers to do much better. I am still again working and learning to conquer the issues raised as a result of that absence in my life so I can create a healthy balance internally and for the future.

BSN: List some of the professional, modeling, acting, business, entrepreneurship,  accomplishments most proud of?
UO: Getting my law degree was huge for me. All my life, I have always wanted to be a lawyer so achieving that made me happy. Impacting and changing people’s lives through my ongoing work as a lawyer is also something I am most proud of. Launching Ladybrille is also another thing I am very proud of. All the years I have spent trying to figure out how to make a difference in Africa where it helped women and children. The extensive journaling and it finally clicked for me with using fashion and specifically the brand Ladybrille to make a difference.

It is still a baby but it means so much to me because of the many e-mails I receive about the difference I am already making in people’s lives and inspiring them, especially in Africa. You know, I was reading the other day about how Africa’s poor look forward to used underwear from the Western countries that are shipped and sold at very cheap prices to the poor. I thought, this is why I started Ladybrille. Getting the word out there that we need to support our fashion industry, whether black, white, brown or whatever, we need to join hands and give dignity back to people, especially our children and women and to me, it starts from what and how we clothe our own. If we can afford fresh new underwear for ourselves, people around the world should be able to do the same. That, and the sex workers in Africa who do so simply for the money. That breaks my heart and as Ladybrille grows, I hope we can really help make a difference whether it is setting up fashion institutions or finding other ways to instill confidence and independence in our African women caught in such dilemma

BSN: Tell us why it’s important to combine brainpower and beauty?
UO: It is critical because a pretty face can only get you so far. Looks fade and then what? If it is all about sex, after all the sex then what? Pretty face can only take you so far and at the end of the journey, you are stripped of your dignity and integrity. I also feel that the immense independence that comes from having a brain means that when obstacles hit you, even if financial, for example, you can always build from ground up with your brain and your creativity.

BSN: List some of the brands, clothing, and products such as lotions, makeup, perfume, clothing, shoes that you use and why you like them?
UO: Clothing brand, I have a very eclectic taste and love to mix and match. But, I would say, I love DKNY. She gets it when it comes to a woman’s body. Perfume has been Jean Paul Gaultier. Makeup, I love the Laura Mercier Line. I also just started on the Toni Payne brand owned by a Nigerian/American entrepreneur and I am enjoying it.

UO’s Words Of wisdom:
Believe in yourself, be bold, be confident, don’t be too harsh on yourself when you make mistakes. To err is human. Forgive yourself when you do. Remain bold. Remain confident and know the sky is the beginning. Most importantly, put God first in all you do. Don’t rely only on self, you will go crazy!
UO’s Secrets Of Success: God stays at the center of it all. He is my secret to success. My family is numero dos and then the quality friends in my life and they know who they are.
UO’s Favorite All Time Three Movies: The Devil’s Advocate, A time to Kill, Erin Brockovich played by Julia Roberts, loved it!
UO’s Favorite All Time Three Books: No favorites. Just love all of John Grisham’s books and just great story telling.
Three Leaders Living Or Not, That Inspire UO The Most: My mother, My sisters and my mentor Donald M. Temple, Esq. I can relate to these people more and they have helped shaped my views of the world and have led by their examples.

First Three Things UO Would Do As President Of US: I would not want to be President of the USA. It is too stressful a job but if I was, I would focus on making healthcare universal and free for all Americans. Second, would work smart and hard and make the campaign of a sustainable Africa my mission using the angle of fashion and strengthening trade laws that benefit Africa and USA alike. Third, repeat 1 & 2.

At End Of Day When UO Looks Back At Life, A Sentence Describing Accomplishments: Solid but the best is yet to come!
Sign: Taurus
Some Of UO’s Favorite Cars: I actually like motorbikes although I do not currently own one. I love Harleys. There is a reckless abandon that comes from being on a motorbike. The speed, the excitement and the danger, I love. For now, I’ll have to wait before I purchase one—have lost three acquaintances in recent accidents so a bit hesitant in getting one for now.
UO’s Five Favorite Entertainers And Their Songs: Sade Adu, “Sweetest Taboo,” Alicia Keys, “If I Ain’t Got You,” Fred Hammond, “Your Steps are Ordered,” Nigeria’s Lagbaja, “Africalypso,” Da Truth—Gospel Hip-Hop Artist—mad lyrics and tight beats-love every song!
UO Five Favorite Websites: www.ladybrille.com , www.ladybrille.blogspot.com , www.myspace.com/ladybrille , www.essence.com ,  www.blackstarnews.com of course!

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