Michael Uyi is a young entrepreneur who has carved a place for himself by customising cars for celebrities. He recently dabbled into fashion with Still Broke, a collection of designer underwear, which he unveiled on Sunday May 13, 2018.
Still Broke has in its collection an array of tracksuit bottoms, sports bras, and briefs among others. Already, top celebrities like Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Annie Idibia, and Lilian Esoro have been spotted rocking the first of its kind undergarment.
According to Uyi, Still Broke promotes positivity, instilling a sense of hard work and responsibility in its wearer. In this interview, he tells us how the brand evolved.
What is your association with Still Broke?
I am the owner of the brand. I’m the CEO of Still Broke.
What’s Still Broke brand all about?
The brand is about bringing luxury to Nigeria. Instead of just buying foreign brands, now we have our own underwear brand. It’s all about bringing good quality product that is affordable to everybody.
Is it a franchise or a Nigerian brand?
It is a Nigerian brand. It’s created by me.
What actually inspired Still Broke?
I love fashion and I deal with fitness, so my brand supports fitness. I just had to do it.
Why did you use the name Still Broke for your underwear brand?
When I first started and I told people I wanted to use the name Still Broke, they were like ‘Ha, God forbid bad thing’. But that is not what the brand is all about; it is to spread a positive message. Still Broke means ‘even though you have a lot, you just keep aiming higher’.
How did you choose the celebrities that endorsed the brand?
I chose them because they were once ‘still broke’. For instance, when Wizkid heard the name, he was like ‘Ha! Still Broke, I love that name because it reminds me of when I was still (hustling) in Ojuelegba.
How affordable are your products?
They are very affordable. When I say affordable, I mean an average Nigerian can afford it.
Is this the first collection you are launching?
Yes, this is the first collection; the first season but it is going to have more seasons.
What makes your products different from other competitors?
I don’t know what you mean by competitors. I don’t have any competitor in Nigeria. My competitor is Calvin Klein. I don’t have competitors in Nigeria because my product is top class. You can check for yourself, the way I showcase my brand is different from the way others showcase theirs.
Are you a tailor?
I’m not but I love designs, I am creative.
Do you get your fabric here in Nigeria?
No, I don’t get them in Nigeria but I get Nigerians involved. The artist and the designs are from here, but quality wise, I have to get my fabric from Vietnam.
How durable is it?
It’s very durable.
Are you going to restrict the Still Broke brand to just the underwear, or are you going to expand the brand?
Yeah, I’m thinking of going into T-shirts, shorts, hats, and bags. If you check my website, you will see that I do a lot of things. Still Broke is not just about boxers and sports wears; it is an urban brand. In our second season, we will introduce T-shirts and hats.
In the first season, you are launching both male and female versions. Don’t you think you are launching both too early, why not focus on one?
It’s a gamble. I have both male and female fans so I have to please them. I even have for kids, so it is literally for everybody. Everybody is going to enjoy Still Broke.
You could have been working somewhere, earning money; why did you choose to be an entrepreneur?
Nine to five job has never been my interest. My mum was a teacher so I know the pain she went through. Growing up, I was like I could study Political Science but I won’t do anything with it. I grew up thinking I am not going to work nine to five, I need to be my own boss, I want to be my own CEO; I want to own my own company and be the one calling the shots. So, immediately I got the opportunity, I took it.
Before you came into this, what were you doing?
Basically, what I do is customising cars. I own one of the biggest garages in Lagos called 3D Cars. We upgrade cars and we do interior and exterior modifications. That’s the primary business that I do; that’s where the money came from to get into Still Broke. It’s my passion for fashion that brought about Still Broke but the main thing I do is customising cars.
How lucrative is the car business in Nigeria? How do you get people to customise their cars?
Nigerians are car lovers; Nigeria is a car loving country. People have like five or six cars in their compounds. I use celebrities to showcase the cars to the world then their followers or fans would see it and want to do the same thing. It’s about creating awareness; enlightening people on why they need to customise their cars, because they want their cars to look different from everyone else’s.
Among your celebrity customers and friends, who are your biggest patrons?
Tecno loves cars. I’ve done more than three or four cars for Tecno. So also for Wizkid.