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Fela Fagbure’s giant strides

Canada-based Nigerian model, Fela Fagbure is certainly more than just another promising model from Africa. With an astute sense of entrepreneurship, Fela is set to take the world of fashion and glamour by storm. Fela started modeling at the age of 15-16, at a time when the industry was still growing. However, driven by his […]

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Canada-based Nigerian model, Fela Fagbure is certainly more than just another promising model from Africa. With an astute sense of entrepreneurship, Fela is set to take the world of fashion and glamour by storm.

Fela started modeling at the age of 15-16, at a time when the industry was still growing. However, driven by his love for everything art/photography, he stayed in it and blossomed to a stage where he can compete with any international male model.

He is so far show strength in the areas of Glamour modeling, Fashion editorial modeling, Fashion catalog modeling, Fashion bathing suit modeling, Fashion fitness modeling, Fashion fit modeling, Commercial lifestyle modeling and Commercial corporate modeling; working with amazing photographers for magazines shoots and adverts.

According to Fela, who is currently studying Arts and Design at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, he is inspired a lot by Tyson Beckford, to do what he does. But says his business sense is inspired by his mother. “She’s a successful business guru for over 25 years now. She inspires and motivates me as well”.  Perhaps it is this driving force that has seen him team up with his twin brother, Fola to create the vintage Alex Folzi brand.

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I caught up with Fela to find out more about the business side to him, his journey in the world of fashion, his future plans and aspirations.

Ameyaw Debrah: What else do you do aside modeling?

I consider my self as a young entrepreneur, I own a clothing line with my twin brother called Alex Folzi and in the nearest feature we would be opening more businesses both locally and internationally.

Ameyaw Debrah:What is the inspiration behind Alex Folzi?

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Alex Folzi is an elegant brand inspired by vintage looks, and the iconic design styles of the army, air force, navy, sailors and in general the Northern American/European couture. It was established 2010. Our styles allow for the uniqueness of individuals who seek to express themselves through fashion.  We do all sort of designs, ranging from shoes, luggage, accessories and clothes. Our summer collection of the vintage luggage consisting of brief cases and trunks comes out June 30th. Due to some reasons, the other products have been delayed till further notice.

Ameyaw Debrah: Do you have any other ambitions, say acting?

I would love to go into producing and directing sometime soon, be it music or film, I released a short video few months back and I am currently working on more now.

Ameyaw Debrah: What was the title of the short video and what was it about?
The troubled past of the Nigerian rebel.  It was about how a young Nigerian male that was having difficulties with his past over the years. Sometimes our troubled past seems to hold us down, it hunts and torments us as days goes by. Sleepless nights and restless days are all we have left. But one thing we so not realize is we have the power to make a change all we just need to do is to make that decision. “Let it go” I felt this was a really powerful short video and it really meant a lot to me.

Ameyaw Debrah: What have been some of the challenges for you?

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School! It’s pretty tough doing all this and going to school at the same time. My previous school year wasn’t that smooth for me as I expected. But school is the most important thing so I have to get it done ASAP

Ameyaw Debrah:Does having a popular name like Fela make it easy for you to have jobs?

Oh everyone loves Fela. Well mostly Africans who knew him and listen to his music while he was alive. So I get a way of getting things. But I must say my personality adds to it though.

Ameyaw Debrah: What’s the fiercest or wildest photo shoot or job you ever did?

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Wearing female make up (laughs out loud). I was kind of tense before the shot though. But at the end of the day it came out looking good.

Ameyaw Debrah:How comfortable are you in front of the camera and what has been the transition like since you started modeling?

I have always been an open person, especially in front of the camera. I consider it as a passion, so I just go and give it my best. Nude or not!

Ameyaw Debrah: What a routine day for you like?

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I work all day and sometimes at night. For the past few weeks I sleep at most 6 hours at night, because I have been busy lately. As an entrepreneur I have to make sure everything is in place and try to get my hands on as much research I as I can.

Ameyaw Debrah: What is your training regiment like?

I work out 2- 3 hours 4 times a week or at least 1 and a half hour 3 times a week. Be it cardio or weight lifting.

Ameyaw Debrah: Do you have any special diets or habits to stay in shape?

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Not exactly, I just avoid eating junk foods and eat healthy. For me, that’s the best diet I would suggest for any one

Ameyaw Debrah: What impact do social networks have on your job? Do you get jobs through that?

Social networking is one of the best ways to get your self out there. People don’t just make good use of it. I consider it as another way of advertising. As an entrepreneur I maximize any opportunity I have to the fullest.

Ameyaw Debrah: What’s the weirdest thing a fan ever told you on these platforms?

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I want you because you look good, getting famous and you have a nice body as well. I was like umm ok, thank you.

Ameyaw Debrah: Who are your favourite fashion designers ?

Alexander Amosu because we have so much in common. He’s an entrepreneur and owns a clothing line as well. Ohema Ohene because his collections are amazing.

Alexander McQueen, he always provoked emotional reactions. The collections are just too fresh.  And also, Ralph Lauren.

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Ameyaw Debrah:What are the trendiest fashion accessories of the moment for you?

Club Monaco, Paul Smith, Marc Ecko, Prada and J. Crew

Ameyaw Debrah: What’s your favourite Nigerian food

Suya! That’s all I crave for all day, no matter were I’m in the world.

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Ameyaw Debrah: How often do you visit Nigeria?
I was born in Nigeria but I haven’t been down there for 2 years now. I try my possible best to go visiting every Christmas break though. I’m looking forward to go back anytime soon to visit. I miss my spicy food especially Suya!

Ameyaw Debrah: What do you hope to achieve with your career?

As much as I can but my main aim is that front cover of GQ magazine and I see that coming anytime soon.

Fela’s Style

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Suits or African wear?

Definitely suits as an entrepreneur.

Boxer shorts or briefs?

Briefs because it comes with class and style

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Cufflinks or buttons/tie or no tie?

It all depends on my mood

Favourite colour of cloths

I am good to go with any plain color. I love to mix bright colors as well though.

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Favorite perfume

Polo Blue by Ralph Lauren

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Ameyaw Meets

Oprah Winfrey & Blitz Bazawule answer my questions about ‘The Color Purple’

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Oprah Winfrey & Blitz Bazawule answer my questions about ‘The Color Purple’

In April, I had the opportunity to join a Zoom Q&A session with Oprah Winfrey and Blitz Bazawule, courtesy FilmOne Distribution. The conversation was around the bold remake of ‘The Color Purple’ scheduled for release this Christmas!   (more…)

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Ameyaw Meets

Asari Music highlights new single ‘Like Dat’, balancing college with music and more

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Asari Music

Week-in week-out I get to interview one of the many faces in showbiz and this week on Ameyaw Meets, Asari Music is the one. She’s a young, upcoming and very talented Ghanaian-American singer – who in case you haven’t heard, is out with the hottest song you might hear all week. (more…)

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Ameyaw Meets

I single-handedly popularized Shea Butter in the United States – Margaret Andega

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According to Margaret Andega, a Kenyan entrepreneur in Atlanta, she was the driving force behind the commercialization of Shea Butter in the US during the late 90s. (more…)

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Ameyaw Meets

He went from cooking on Instagram to owning a food truck in Atlanta and more… the story of Quabena’s Kitchen

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story of Quabena’s Kitchen

The COVID-19 pandemic birthed many opportunities for people all over the globe. For one Ghanaian living in the US, the pandemic reconnected him with his passion which has now become a full-time job.

Quabena’s Kitchen shared with me his story about how he went from cooking for family and friends, to sharing content of his cooking on Instagram page at the height of the pandemic, which has now transformed into a thriving catering business in Atlanta, Georgia.

Quabena’s Kitchen services now include a food truck providing Ghanaian and West African delicacies to Africans and non-Africans alike, with ambitions of a restaurant on the cards!

Watch this exciting story on Ameyaw TV below:

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Read Also: The chef behind Fufu Pizza is about to open Afro-Fusion Cafe in Atlanta

 

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The chef behind Fufu Pizza is about to open Afro-Fusion Cafe in Atlanta

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US-based Liberian professional chef, Chauncy Yarngo caught the attention of the world with his amazing creations such as fufu pizza, fufu taco, plantain burgers and more. (more…)

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Ameyaw Meets

Why Ghanaian-American Jeffrey Ampratwum is the menswear expert to watch in fashion!

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At the start of the Victoria era, early 19th century – the English began to tone down the royal style dressing of the French army, namely those adorned in prestigious regalia and heavy embroidery. It was a sign of English nationalism and sparked a new wave of appearance in men. A few decades later, the suit was born and heavily influenced those in Italy and America. The British and the Americans have a rich revolutionary history, of course, and coincidentally the British colonized the African country – Gold Coast – until 1957 when they declared their independence and changed their name to Ghana. 

 

As part of an independent Ghana, a host of individuals began to exercise new freedoms and venture out of the country into new territories. Many Ghanaians set their eyes on American travel and a wave of trail blazers left the country and settled in the infamous New York City. For most, it was an opportunity to plant new seeds in the hopes that their children would be afforded even more opportunities for a prosperous life.

 

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One of these children of the diaspora is Bronx-born Jeffrey Ampratwum. The only child to Kate Bampoe and Eugene Asante-Ampratwum Mpere, who met in the Bronx after immigrating from Ghana. The dynamics of having African parents and being raised in a heavily eclectic environment gave rise to Jeffreys style and prose. More importantly, we can honestly say that there are only a handful of Ghanaian-Americans living in the states that can exhibit a special presentation that reflects both their African heritage married with the esthetic of their nationality. We recently caught up with Jeffrey to discuss how his early influences provided him with a framework to now become such a strong force in the menswear industry in fashion.

 

 

AD: Jeffrey, Ɛte sɛn?

 

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Jeff: Haha, Eye.

 

AD: I had to test your Twi really quick! You know most Ghanaians who are born in the states dont have a clue about the language unless its spoken fiercely in the home.

 

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Jeff: You are 100% correct with that. Ha. But for me, I was lucky in that my mother took me to Ghana before I even knew how to use words. So, in actuality, Twi was the first language and vocabulary I learned, and in essence, English is my second language. So, Im really decent when it comes to using Twi. Im a cheat code! But keep that quiet. Ha.

  

AD: How much of the remnants of the Ghanaian culture factored into your approach to your style and presentation?

 

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Jeff: When I was younger and in school, particularly in the Bronx – it wasnt always your proudest moment to be from Africa or to say your family was African. Part of the silly embarrassment was perhaps from the narratives that were spinning on television. Americans were being indoctrinated with visuals of feed the children” which only highlighted the extreme poverty in a few Africans countries. The images and broadcasts were all the same, for decades. So called philanthropist and humanitarians took camera crews into ravaged areas and televised starving children for us to see here in the states. I believe that had a profound effect on young boys and girls born from African parents.

However, as for me – I always looked at being dark skinned and being deeply rooted into my African culture as a super power. I liked the idea of being different, even though all the kids in all my classes were also children of immigrants. They just couldnt grasp the concept of it at that time. So, from there, it was showtime. My Uncle, Joseph Ken Mintah – was the pioneer as the first in the family to travel to the states – he had extreme style. My mother also is very detailed with her sense of jewelry and fragrances. I adsorbed it all. 

 

AD: Did you start dressing in traditional African attire? What do you mean exactly?

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Jeff: Not exactly! But, being an only child really allowed for me to sit deep in thought for long periods of time. Being left-handed allowed for me to be extremely dexterous and detailed. And being raised solely by my mother further allowed me to pay attention to the importance of clothing and accessories – as she dressed herself each morning. It was the ultimate cocktail and I was already drunk with creativity. I started customizing all the clothes I had. By no means were we wealthy, so I had to manage just a few outfits for school.

 

My styling began when I would turn 5 outfits into 15 – so essentially, a 5-day school week became New York Fashion Week for me. I would airbrush my sneakers, turn Old Navy sweaters inside out for a fleece appeal, and cuff my jeans in 4 different ways depending on my footwear. This soon became a bad habit and made me late for school many mornings.

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AD: You see, if you are late to school in Ghana back then – you might as well have sat by the road to hide from both your mother and headmaster! What was college like for you then?

 

Jeff: Right! Ha. It grew legs during my undergrad. Now all the pretty girls were around, I had more freedom to come and go, and more importantly – I had a stage to showcase my style. I joined a student club in the SEEK Program, and soon became the President and started hosting a string of events based around fashion. 4 years and a bachelors degree later, there were 6 fashion shows and 3 beauty pageants under my belt. Huge successes. I started to doubt my real educational reason for attending college, which was to become a dentist. Fashion was dancing on one shoulder and dentistry on the other. But somehow, I figured out how to still involve the two. My best buddy, Kenny – whom I met at the college on the road to become dentists – made it through. So, I live vicariously through him. And now, coincidentally – together we’ve developed a brand – a service of bespoke mens luxury shoes and women’s handbags, and ready to wear womenswear shoes as well. Named, Kenjeffreys. It is serendipitous because all of the products are sourced and handcrafted in Haiti and infused with Ghanaian culture. As Kenny is from Haiti, we properly employ artisans within the community and focus heavily on our social impact.

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Following undergrad, I then began at FIT as student, really just trying to test my styling hand – and to learn more about the industry. While there, I came across extremely talented and knowledgeable fashion professionals that have really guided me. Namely, Sadia Seymour and Joseph DeAcetis. Both wildly experienced, patient and embedded with a wealth of information. Respectfully in womenswear and menswear. You cannot beat that, and I am grateful for it.

 

AD: That is strangely unique and admirable. Talk to us about how all those experiences and inspirations give rise to the Jeffrey or Che we see today and ultimately, where that places you in your field of fashion and menswear.

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Jeff: Sure. Great point. I have been indoctrinated by the basic principles of creativity as an adolescent – with respect to clothing. That is extremely hard to shake. Innately, styling was my ultimate form of communication, seeing that I was a shy introvert. So now, I still revert back to those same feelings…. the feeling of home, warmth, memories, great food and innocent fun. My approach now is exactly the same in the sense that when I am dressing, styling or designing for someone – I am taking into account their entire repertoire and holding a mirror in front of them which reflects the items that they love most. It is a skill that perhaps only empaths are only able to exhibit.

 

Having the ability to read into thoughts and connecting with the motivating spirits that drives people – is a gift. I ran the New York City marathon three times, and the 2nd time I ran it in a tuxedo! It was my ultimate homage and pledging of allegiance to fashion. Ha.

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I also believe my extensive traveling experience has aided to the arsenal. Recent trips to Ghana always resets a creative instinct with me, as I look around and arrive back to a place of self-awareness. It feels right. My cousin Harry knows where to be to capture the real essence of the land. And, coincidentally enough, I am often back and forth to the UK as well. Savile row in London, England -as you know – is a menswear connoisseurs Disney Land. It is the traditional hub for the world’s best tailored-bespoke suits. Naples and Florence are a close second. However, sartorially, the British have etched their names in the fine-art making of the suit. I do though spend most of my time in Brighton, UK. Its where my love is and also like a second home for me. The culture there is infused with various styles and the community is inviting. The Duchess of Brighton-Hove, Lady Donna and her amazing friends will assure that you have a great time! 

 

AB: Finally, talk to us about your styling approach with respect to specific talent that you work with.

 

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Jeff: Definitely. This is perhaps an area you cannot teach. It is learned with years of experience and even reading the room wrong most times. I tell my fashion students often that they have to continue shooting airballs at the basket. Get out the miss shots, now – and properly learn your subjects. For example, if I am styling a celebrity for the red carpet – several nuances are to be considered before arriving at a dress or a tuxedo. Such as, what stages in life is your talent currently in, how body conscious are they and what are they most nostalgic about. These (and some of my other secrets that I cannot give away) are the pillars to nailing great style, image and presentation.

 

If I am shooting for a magazine in a studio – its party time. If you are not dancing as a model or grooving as a photographer, you are are in the wrong business, per say! Haha. With me, you are very liable to hear everyone from Bob Marley, James Brown, MJ, and Jay-Z to Queen, Lady Gaga, Biggie, Nas and Beyonce all on the same playlist. I say that to say: I enjoy what I do in fashion, and I will always represent the joys of that. I believe that is what makes me an enigma in this industry. Always professional however, but make it subjective and inject areas of your creativity wherever you can. Particularly in menswear – I keep a very intimate and close pulse on traditional, casual and street styles of these sub genres – and study them gravely like the science they are. That all still comes from sitting deep in thought as I did
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