In terms of fashion, Ottawa has been coming up and it is pretty impressive. This past week, I had the opportunity to have a sit-down interview with an upcoming Ottawa-based stylist, Wande Ogundare, who has quite a lot to offer. Here is how it went:
1) Tell us about you? Who is Wande?
WO: I am Wande Ogundare, a third year chemical engineering student at the University of Ottawa. I transferred to Ottawa in my second year because I was in college back in Vancouver, but I wanted to go to a proper university so I opted for the University of Ottawa. It’s been okay so far, I didn’t know anyone on arrival but I made friends because I always dressed up to class. Literally. I’ve been trying to get used to it but it’s felt like there are better cities for what I’m doing.
2) Tell me about your Fashion style.
WO: Starting styled by Wande was never my decision. One day, a friend of mine added me on Snapchat and noticed that I dressed up consistently for the first couple of weeks of May because summer school had started. She suggested starting a YouTube channel but I wasn’t exactly sold on that because I’m not a big fan of YouTube. Instead, I decided to start professionally and that way, I could make some money on the side. And so the journey began. I’ll be honest it hasn’t exactly been easy. I had a private viewing last week. I also went to stores on Sussex drive to show them what I was about and to see if they would to like to collaborate with me, in terms of styling the pieces purchased by their customers, since my target market is age 25-65, but they all declined which brought me down a lot. After that, I realized that I needed to start small and make my way up. In terms of pricing, I have a student package in which my service fee is 25% of their budget and the remaining 75% goes towards purchasing the pieces, which I pick out and combine based on the person’s likes and sense of style. For my fee, I often have to talk to the customers individually, as there is no fixed price – it is negotiable. However, I would say the minimum for them would be about $300. My styling is upscale because I do not think someone would hire me for everyday styling, unless the person really has the money for that. For the most part, stylists are often hired for events.
3) You mentioned you had an event last week, how did your event go?
WO: It was good. As I mentioned earlier, I wanted some people (fashion bloggers, store managers etc.) to be present but none of them showed up. However, my friends were there to support me and it meant the world to me. I was also presented with some projects, which is exciting. I’ll be the stylist for the projects. It definitely opened a lot of opportunities for me because I got to meet people and was asked different questions.
4) How long have you been styling and what led you to this? What are the core components?
WO: Professionally, I started last week Thursday. However, I have been styling people (mostly friends) on the side for about 3 years now. They would contact me to style them for an occasion and we would go shopping together to get a sense of what they wanted to wear. As I mentioned earlier, starting professionally was never my decision. The motif behind Styled by Wande is to inspire confidence through style. Personally, when I look good, my confidence level skyrockets and I tend to be more productive. Regardless of how bad my day is, going to the mall takes it all away.
5) What makes your styling distinct from the rest?
WO: I don’t mean to be cocky but I think I am very classy. It’s different because I know people dress up right, but literally, I dress up 365 days a year. Even when I have 8:30am classes, I’m usually awake at 5am to get my makeup done, dress up and get ready for my day.
6) What are some of the long-term trends for your business? Where do you see yourself in the next couple of years?
WO: By next year, I would love to be a well-known brand in Nigeria. In the next 2-3 years, I hope to be known in Canada because it is more difficult to break out in this country because there are more people to compete with and you need to network. I could be very reserved; I don’t know a lot of people here so it would definitely take me a while. But in Nigeria, I know quite a number of people and it is easier to make it there. Many would say that there are also a lot people to compete with in Nigeria, which is the honest truth. The styling industry is expanding but it is a source of income for these people causing them to be overpriced. They purchase pieces from decently priced websites and stores, and inflate the prices when selling it to their clients because they pay for customs and shipping and also making some profit. My pricing would definitely not be that extreme, it would be a lot less because I do virtual styling and I would order directly from the store to your doorstep so you would pay for shipping as if you were shopping on your own. I just pick the pieces depending on what you like. In all of this, you just have to be different from the norm and defy the conventional.
7) Who would you say inspires you? And why? Also, who are your favourite stylists?
WO: My style icon is Kim Kardashian because I believe we are very alike in terms of fashion. I question some of her outfits but for the most part, she dresses really well, we have to give that to her. In Nigeria, it has to be Toke Makinwa. Although she is usually styled, she always looks good regardless. If you look at both senses of style, you would have a pretty good idea of mine. I also look at blogs to keep up with trends. As for my favourite stylists, I would definitely say Monica Rose, who happens to be the stylist for the Kardashians. Harvellastyles, Toke Makinwa’s stylist, is also another person. Although she is new on the block, she’s pretty good at what she does. She’s probably been doing it for a while but she only got recognition late last year and she does a really good job. I definitely look up to both of them for inspiration; however, putting pieces together comes to me naturally.
8) How would you describe your personal style?
WO: My sense of style is very girly, very classy. I always wear heels. I got my first pair of flat shoes last summer and my first pair of sneakers this year, that’s to show you the extent [laughs]. I’m a very girly girl. I get told that some of my outfits are good but they aren’t exactly relatable in the sense that there isn’t any place to wear them to – I know it’s very upscale but that’s my fashion sense.
9) What trends are you living right now? What trends do you wish to go away?
WO: I don’t really follow trends but I’m definitely loving the 70’s trend – wide leg pants, palazzo pants, culottes and some colours like rust that we never thought we would wear. Funny, I love all the trends right now. They are pretty good; there isn’t any that is outrageous. If you work well with them, you can pull it off.
10) Everyone loves a good deal, what are some of your favourite places to find budget buys? What items do you feel are worth splurging on?
WO: Online, I would definitely go for ASOS because if you think about it, worldwide, everyone has Zara, H&M and Forever 21. These are stores that you would find everywhere so for me, in-store, Forever 21 and H&M would do. Forever 21 tends to have a nice collection online but if the person doesn’t like Forever 21, there is always H&M and sometimes, Zara. I definitely love to splurge on shoes actually, but umm, clothes and bags too. I can’t pick because they are my obsessions. It really depends on one’s sense of style.
Below is a quick look at Wande’s style and for more information, visit her official website, Styled by Wande.