KOYE ADESANYA – MOJO KOJO
If you haven’t heard of Mojo Kojo yet, you will soon. The African fashion brand has turned typical african inspired fashion on its head, welcoming an even younger and more western market. With its sample collection sold out already, the brand is certainly set for a bright future.
We talked to British Nigerian Koye Adesanya, to figure out how, at just 21 years old, he’s managed to juggle getting a top class Politics degree at University of Manchester whilst marketing, designing and distributing his clothing brand Mojo Kojo.
So Koye, what inspired you to start up your own clothing line?
I wanted to get more young people wearing African print. I feel personally, as a young guy, there aren’t many lines that I would buy from. Most of the big names at the moment, despite their success are all producing prints that look similar. I wanted to create something. I looked at Moschino and Versace prints and cuts from the 90s and created African two pieces that are more relevant to a young, modern market.
African prints have become popularised in mainstream fashion. How do you feel your brand differs?
Mojo Kojo is basically an infusion of western and African culture with garments that aren’t exclusive to people of African heritage. Our prints are symbolic with repeated motifs like huts, elephants and masks. They have images that symbolise ‘what is African’. I feel that if younger people, like my-self get involved with African prints, they have to relate to something they know. For example, our African dancer print has proved to be a sellout. It’s more fun than your typical dashiki print.
What’s your process in regards to producing your garments then?
Firstly, I go through suppliers back home in Nigeria and pick the prints from a local market in Lagos. I just choose my favourite prints and buy them in bulk. I then work with a designer and pattern cutter from Manchester, Melissa Jade Young. I sent her images of the cuts I preferred and then we just went through the process of whittling ideas down so that she could make a final sewing pattern.
We saw Rinse FM host, Yinka Bokinni rocking your Selassie print trousers at this year’s Notting Hill Carnival. What’s the reception been like to your first collection?
Amazing, especially to have a young Nigerian in the media representing us! All of our market stalls, like our one at POW in Brixton have proved to be a success and Mojo Kojo’s recent feature in The Tab (an online national student newspaper) has got almost 400 shares which has also helped with sales.
How have you managed to balance your Politics degree with running your own business. What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs?
Well, I think the most important thing is time management. You definitely need a structured daily timetable because the days and hours just pass by so quickly. You need to find the right balance and prioritise because you just can’t forget how important University is. That’s exactly why I had to cut back on my social life, if I was to get Mojo Kojo up and running before I graduated.
And if your schedule wasn’t already busy enough, you also ran your own African disco night in Manchester.
Yes! – It’s called Ijoya, meaning ‘time to dance’ in Yoruba. It’s a mix of 70s disco and funk afro-beats with more modern artists like WizKid. You can obviously expect to hear some Fela Kuti (my idol) on our nights. So far, Ijoya has been a hit in Manchester – so who knows, we might start up in London too.
So what do you expect for the future – for both Mojo Kojo and yourself?
I’m hoping to get our website up by this month and start selling Mojo Kojo’s second collection. After that, I personally want to go into either recruitment or management consultancy and hopefully work for a big firm, whilst running Mojo Kojo on the side. So, I want to take time this year doing things properly and setting up new business plans, so that when I get another job I don’t have to be so hands on.
It sounds like you’ve got it all sussed out! It’s been great to chat to you Koye, and we look forward to Mojo Kojo’s second collection.
Catch Mojo Kojo’s Instagram @mojokojomcr for the exclusive release!