Seriously talented, Chiamaka and Ebele Ojechi were born creatives. Experts in branding, design and art direction, both girls have developed and launched their own brands off the back of their unique perspective on entrepreneurship and creativity.
paq is a multi-disciplinal creative agency co-founded by Chiamaka, which includes fashion worn by Kendrick Lamar and modelled by IAMDDB. Pairing in success Ebele is the founder and designer for BËLË, a performance and streetwear-focused brand that offers comfy, super functional silhouettes for the young consumer, and has been featured in Vogue. We caught up with the beautiful duo to talk more about their work and to see how they styled the latest collaboration between Puma and Korea-based brand, Ader Error. Keep up with the lovely ladies and see more of the shoot via their Instagram @chiandebs and be sure to check out both BËLË and paq on the gram. All images featured were taken by Joshua Allen and his work can be found via his instagram @jshaln!
The Ader Error x Puma collaboration collection can be found on our website!
How did you both enjoy your summer this year?
It was great, Ebs lives in Germany so we don’t get to see each other as much anymore sadly. But she was back in London for a month over august; the longest time she’s been back this year! So we got to spend a lot of time together which was cute.
Tell us about what you both do.
Ebs is a menswear designer for Y-3 as well as the founder of her sportswear brand BËLË which she launched in 2016. Chi is co-founder and creative director of paq, a London based creative agency. It’s difficult to specify one thing she does because she’s fairly multidisciplinary; however her focus at the moment is in art direction, graphic design and photography.
What do you find exciting about streetwear?
Comfort is king. Our style has always been cozy; so the cozier a garment is the more exciting it is for us lol.
Do you have any favourite clothing or sneaker brands that you admire?
For clothing it has to be Phoebe Philo’s Celine, and Stone Island for outerwear. When it comes to footwear, Nike has had our hearts since childhood.
Ebele, you’ve focused a lot on sportswear and performance clothing. What drew you to focus on this area of fashion design?
I’ve loved designing sporty pieces from a young age. I remember being 10 and spending summers designing cosy army print tracksuits and dungarees. So when it came to applying for uni, I actually wanted to do menswear but the sportswear course leader at LCF – Claudine Rousseau – felt my portfolio was more suitable for sportswear and asked me to consider joining the course. Since all of my designs were sportswear anyway, I thought I might as well give it a try and I haven’t looked back since.
We really enjoy the way your silhouettes are often oversized and involve lots of layering. What inspires your personal styling and professional styling?
We’re heavily inspired by the 90s and oversized silhouettes from that time. Every girl back then had a wavy tom boy but simultaneously keeping it cute phase and that's what we’re here for. Comfort, again influences a lot of dressing decisions. Our everyday thought when we’re getting dressed is how can we maximise coziness today. Layering is life and probably the only thing we like about winter because we can layer up and create fab colour combos for daysss.
Your art direction is often influenced by Nigerian culture. How else has being from Nigeria influenced your values and your creative journey?
Growing up in a Nigerian household has taught us the value in everything. Everything being: every experience, environment, the people you cross paths with and every job you may find yourself in. There was also a lot of emphasis on the value of money and resourcefulness and this really shaped how we envisaged our future careers from a young age. Nigerians are known for our hustle mentality; making something out of nothing. We saw it around us growing up so it was basically ingrained in us by force. Our Grandma had her own fashion house in Nigeria and we come from quite an entrepreneurial family; this shaped our creative journey massively as we both knew early on that we wanted to create something of our own.
You have shown admiration for the author, Chinua Achebe in the past. What is the most important philosophy from the author that you could share with our readers, which you care for and believe in?
One of the main things we’ve learnt from his writing is the importance of passing on a story and letting the truth be known as it is. In our work we’re both quite conceptual and enjoy the art of storytelling, so he’s a real influence on us.
What is in your 5-year plans that you’re most excited for?
We don’t really believe in 5 year plans, life can throw anything at you at anytime. But we’re quite excited about Christmas this year!
The oldest pair of sneakers you have or first pair
The first pair we remember actually liking were these Nike Cortez we got in year 4. They were white with a chrome silver swoosh that had a navy outline. In year 8 though, the first pair of trainers we saved up and bought for ourselves were Nike Air Trainer Huarache, and we literally wore them everywhere. We both still have them and wear them occasionally.
A sneaker that holds a lot of memories for you
Probably those huaraches to be honest, they were there throughout all of our street rat days lol. Then to rediscover them at an older age, and still want to wear them, was great.
Your favourite hand-me-down sneaker or clothing article
Our dad has this cream fleece shirt that we like to steal on occasion. Sadly, it’s not a hand me down because he’s still quite fond of it too.
A sneaker that you'll probably keep forever
For Ebs it’s her Bright Cactus Air Max 97’s and for Chi it would be her Neon Air Max 95 OG’s.
A pair of sneakers that you remember wanting so badly at the time
There was these huaraches we wanted sooo bad and after looking everywhere for them we felt we had no choice but to order them online from a US store. So they arrive now and the UPS driver is there at our door asking us to pay a £60 customs fee per package for him to release them. Yeah, we were so gassed that the thought of paying customs didn’t even cross our minds. It was student loan days so that slyly softened the blow.