Hello Friends & Family,
For those of you who are new here, Behind the Magic is a series where I highlight various businesses in different industries and the amazing women behind them. I use my platform to share some of their experiences and resources they’ve used as successful leaders and/or entrepreneurs so you can be inspired and learn from them. Today on Behind the Magic is my interview with Ebele Iloanya, the Owner, Designer and Creative Director of MODChic Couture Boutique. She is a Nigerian American woman, wife, mother of 2 and a successful business owner here in Houston for the past 11 years. She also recently launched her “Printastic” Summer Collection shown and linked below.
1.Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Houston? What do you love about this city?
I am from Nigeria and have lived in Houston Texas for 12 years. I love Houston because of its diversity.
2. How have you been dealing personally and professionally since the pandemic?
Personally, I have hunkered down and spent time with my family. This period has given me time to slowdown and rediscover some of the things I enjoy doing e.g. taking long walks, writing and planning. Professional, this has obviously affected our bottom line but I have grown my knowledge in e-commerce and strategized on different ways to pivot.
3. What has been your quarantine survival and selfcare tip?
My quarantine survival tip was really taking it one day a time. A lot of online learning. For selfcare, I realized that sitting at home day and night will take a toll on me mentally, so I ensured I took walks to get some alone time to avoid mental dips. I also spent time meditating praying and I learnt how to give myself at home facials and body treatments.
4. Can you share your educational background?
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications and a Master’s Degree in Corporate Communications and Public affairs.
5. What led you down your career path?
I like to say Fashion found me. I was always interested in Beauty and Fashion from a young age and it was a love that was passed on by my mother. I saw how a piece of new clothing or jewelry would transform her mood. So, when I moved to Houston, I decided to learn some sewing to make pants specifically for me and somehow that snowballed into this career
6. What is your brand all about and who is your ideal audience?
The MODChic brand is built for the every woman to empower and uplift. The clothing that I design and curate for the Boutique are centered around 3 words, Classic, Contemporary and Cutting Edge.
7. Why are you so passionate about empowering women? Where does it come from?
My passion for empowering women started from me. Growing up I saw my mother and her tribe constantly uplift each other, they were each others rock through everything. So, it came naturally to me because I believe in women standing together and standing in the gap for each other. I honestly don’t know any other way to be.
8. What has been your experience as a black woman in your industry and as a business owner in Houston?
My experience as a black woman in the Fashion industry has been interesting for lack of a better word. I have had doors shut in my face and I have had people expect me to fail. Sometimes you walk into a room and people have this look like why are you even here and on the flipside too some doors have been opened to me because I am a black woman. I have pretty much experienced it all from both spectrum. I do believe as black women we need to work together and build each other up in whatever industry you are in.
9. Who are your business mentors and role models?
I have a lot of business mentors and role models. My husband Chimezie Iloanya is one of them, he is so business savvy that I just sit and gobble up his knowledge on financing. Jeff Bezos is someone I study, I like that he is constantly innovating.
10. How do you juggle being a wife, mom and business owner?
I am lucky to have a very strong family support system. Being a business owner allows me the flexibility to be at most of my kids school activities. I think how I’ve been able to juggle everything because I set boundaries for work. I prioritize so well, so I do not have to be at every event or social gathering.
11. What’s one thing people will be surprised to know about you?
That am pretty much an open book, what you see is what you get
12. You recently wrote an eBook, what is it about?
My e-Guide is on creating your personal style. Styling is a way of branding yourself, so being intentional and authentic to who you are is key to creating your personal style. In the e-Guide, I not only tell the story from a retailer’s perspective, I look at styling through the seasons of life, foundation garments etc. In a nutshell, it is a love letter to my tribe.
13. What inspired you to write the eBook and what do you hope it does for people?
I was inspired to write this guide from my passion for women. A lot of women are unhappy because they do not like the way the look or are not getting their due because they are not dressing the way they want to be addressed. My hope is that this e-Guide address those concerns.
14. Describe your style in 5 words.
Comfortable, Classy, Chic, a little bit of pushing the envelope.
15. Who is your style icon?
So many, my mum, Victoria Beckham, Ava Garner.
16. What are you currently working on?
I am working on multiple projects at the moment for MODChic. We are working to grow our ecommerce. I’m also looking into the Skincare industry, I recently became a brand ambassador for Body Butter called Teslique (amazing product) I am also working on getting into the Healthcare industry.
17. What does success mean to you and what’s your formula for it?
Success for me is about constantly growing and not being static. My formula for it is to continue learning and being flexible to change.
18. What resources or experience has helped you succeed the most in your life and career?
There are so many resources out there, I spend a lot of time researching what’s new and upcoming in my industry. I subscribe to a lot of business magazines like Entrepreneur. I also watch webinars and learn from people in my industry, which is a great help.
19. What has been a major challenge in your business and what keeps you going in the difficult times?
Funding for small businesses are limited, so I try to work around it by embarking on bite size marketing projects. I have learnt that good things take time and patience is indeed a virtue.
20. Based on what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
I would say to her, believe in yourself and be patient. Your only competition is yourself.
21. What’s the biggest life lesson you learned in the past decade?
Relax and live in the moment. Tomorrow is not promised.
22. What’s coming up next for you in your life, career and business?
A lot more learning and growth, watch this space.
23. How can people contact and connect with you?
IG @modchiccouture.com FB @MODChic online @ebele_iloanya
24. How can people purchase your book?1