I had the opportunity to interview April Okorie, an author and designer, residing in Maryland whom at the sweet age of 18, has accomplished so many amazing things and is enjoying every bit of her journey. April reached out to me after viewing my interview with MEFeater EIC, Gabrielle Amani. This particular interview is special to me because it is my first ever submission from one of my viewers and I could relate to April on so many levels. Just like me, from a young age, she knew what she wanted to accomplish and how she wanted to use her voice to promote and spread positivity. Thank you, April, for your time and for inspiring me to continue to work harder!
At the sweet age of 17, you published your first book, The Unspoken Reflection: Heal, Love, Prosper. What is the book about and why did you decide to write it?
At 17 I decided to publish my book and I wrote it to basically spread awareness of the importance of self love and I gave affirmations to anyone in need of hearing it or reassurance of self worth. That’s very important to me because growing up, I was bullied in high school. I was a shy kid, an introverted kid, so I didn’t really have many friends. I always looked to others to find my self love but when I began to look inside of myself, that’s when I really healed myself. I just wanted anyone out there, who really needed love, to write a book for them so they can heal too.
I’ve read that you are a former victim of bullying. What was that experience like for you and how did it affect you?
I was bullied for being the "outsider." I stayed to myself most of the time so I guess I was just different and quiet. People didn’t really know much about me so I guess they just find a reason to just talk about anyone. Me being quiet, shy, and an outsider just gave people an opportunity to just speak on things they didn’t know. I’m quiet so I just took it and reflected on it but it hurt me. However, I grew past it.
What does self-love mean to you?
Self love, to me, means living in your truth and just being unapologetically you. Finding yourself and just living in your means. Doing what you love and nobody being able to tell you that you can’t do something because you already know you can.
How well has your book been doing since you’ve released it?
It’s actually going pretty well. In August, my parents organized a book launch party. They got a lot of family and friends to come and we sold the books. I spoke about it and signed a few books and it was just a pretty good experience. My college professor asked to buy a copy and sometimes my friends just ask me to speak to them. I love to talk to people and make them feel better.
How do you keep such a positive attitude? What keeps your spirit lifted?
I keep a positive attitude by just reminding myself of who I am. Often times, if it’s with my brand, if it’s not going as fast paced as I want or if I just have a down day, I look back and reflect and think about what I’ve done as a woman, or what I’ve done in my years. That alone inspires me and with that reminder, I look back and that helps me keep a positive mindset.
At the age of 18, you released your clothing line. What are some items you sell on your site and what are you planning to sell in the future?
I’ve had two collections so far, one was apparel and now I sell jewelry, the Rose collection. In the future, I plan on selling swimsuits, which I’m currently working on. Overall, it’s a brand and it’s selling items that are for women and even men. For my clothing designs, I’m a one, woman team so I can’t create all the clothes at once, so I research and look for manufacturers and I send my sketches/designs and they make the clothes and they return them to me in bulk. With my necklaces, I do them myself. I go to the local fabric store and I pick up some antiques and create the necklaces from scratch.
How hard is it working by yourself? Do you plan on having a team in the future?
I definitely want a team but its been so many obstacles being a one, woman team. To this day, it is still kind of hard. I created everything, from my brand and my book, from scratch. Being self made comes with pros and cons. I had a lot of financial issues and I was still in high school when everything was still in the making so I worked different jobs and kept everything within my means. With my brand, I had a talented friend in high school, who is a brilliant photographer, his name is Terris Johnson. He helped me with my brand and we were able to find some amazing models within the area that were willing to be part of it but it wasn’t easy at all. I had to build a website from scratch, I had to choose photos, write all of my scripts and visions while working 60+ hours and going to school. It was just many sleepless nights and delayed timing but I’m a strong person so I just used each hardship as an opportunity to grow. I just keep going. I’m creating something beautiful and I love what I do so I know I’m destined for greatness.
Were you always interested in fashion?
I didn’t even know I was going to be a designer but I knew I wanted to be my own boss. Living in my truth regardless of outside voices has always fueled me. I’m naturally a rebel so I never really liked the idea of depending on anyone. I’ve always had an extreme push to create my own reality.
What is your favorite part about being a woman?
My favorite part about being a woman is knowing that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. When I think of women, I think of divine energy, wholeness, multidimensional soldiers. Growing up, I try to look outside of my own being in order to heal my wounds or find self life. As I began to look within, I came up with a quote that I still use today and I believe it’s what stands for women as a whole. The quote is, “Power to the woman that finds everything in herself.” That has helped me because the strength of a woman who knows her worth is beautiful thing and I know my worth now, I know what I’m capable of doing, and I know I can concur the world as a woman.
What is your advice to another young, business woman?
Do what makes your heart warm. At the end of the day, your voice, your truth, and your impact matters. Find that one, or multiple things, that keep you going and bring love to your soul and then work hard. Emphasis on work because stay persistent and never doubt your ability to shine through your light. I just started my brand three months ago and the importance of patience and persistence reassures me that great opportunities in the future will happen for me.
What’s next for April Okorie?
Currently, I’m woking on my swimsuit line but what’s next for me is whatever my heart wants. Like I said, I just love the idea of being my own boss, I love doing what I love, and I love that no one can ever tell me “no.” In the next few years and in general, I see big things. I’ll be in magazines more, doing more interviews. I hope to be televised and just inspiring many people in general. Everyone I meet, I want to touch them in a positive way or just impact them. My main goal is to leave an imprint on the world even if I’m not physically here. I guess what I see in the future is just sharing my light, sharing my love, my wholeness. I’m a designer, I’m a writer, I’m me.
Visit April Okorie's website and social media accounts:
Shop the collection: https://www.aprilokorie.com
Purchase April's book, The Unspoken Reflection: Heal, Love, Prosper, on Amazon.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr.