Marisa Nuñez, Marisa Hair, Long Island City, NY

Ogo Ekweozor-Holley

Ogo New York

Brooklyn, New York

“The workshops have been some of the greatest spaces of diversity I’ve seen in the community.” –Ogo Ekweozor-Holley

From a Pair of Shoes to a Clothing Brand

“I’ve always loved fashion. It gives you an opportunity to show the world what’s important to you. From a young age, I was altering my own clothing. I think I made my first pair of shoes at the age of 7.In 2010, Ogo moved to the United States from the United Kingdom and immediately saw an opportunity for her vision and expertise in the fashion industry. “I noticed a lack of classic and unique styles that were affordable in the UK and even more so in the U.S., so I decided to start making that style of clothing myself.” In 2012, Ogo founded Ogo New York, a women’s clothing brand.

Creating a New Space

A natural leader and mentor, Ogo wanted to find different ways to engage with and give back to her community through her business. She began a series of monthly workshops for women to network and discuss various business topics, which she hosts in her neighborhood of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. “I wanted to create a space where people from different backgrounds felt safe to share their voices and make connections. The workshops have been some of the greatest spaces of diversity I’ve seen in the community.”

Learning to Pivot

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in early 2020 and forced storefronts to close, Ogo found herself in an unprecedented state of uncertainty. “I found myself asking “do I even stay open? Is it worth the fight?” I knew it would be an uphill journey.” Ogo was able to receive a deferment on her loan from Ascendus as she found her footing. “At the time, I didn’t know how I would pay it because we weren’t getting huge sales.” Ogo was also quickly able to find new ways to adapt by pivoting her offerings to the new needs of her customers. “We started making masks in early March, which was our initial main source of revenue, and which we often donated to healthcare workers. We now make hand sanitizers and PPE equipment. We’ve added home furnishings, loungewear, things that the new world appreciates more. I’m excited because we’ve never done any of this before.

Still Standing

As business began to pick up again, Ogo was able to pay off her Ascendus loan in August 2020, giving her a sense of financial self-sustainability, a feeling far from than the uncertainty she had initially felt. Over the last few months, Ogo has also been moved by the profound appreciation she has felt from her community. “I think people are being more intentional about shopping small and local. I’ve seen so much kindness from people and so much desire to see us thrive.” Ogo has also learned that her sense of resiliency knows no limits. “This year has given me a greater level of clarity in terms of what I feel like I’m supposed to be doing. I’ve realized I’m stronger than I thought I was. I’m still standing and I’m excited.”

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