Chi Uwazurike was walking through Royal Oak with his friends in July this year when he saw a store that was closing. He found the owner of the shop and within hours, he closed a deal with the landlord to be the new occupant of the store.
Although he was initially skeptical about his business’ chances because of the coronavirus pandemic, he was determined to see his dream materialize. Uwazurike, a Nigerian, is now the youngest black business owner in Royal Oak, Michigan.
Customers can find apparel, music, games, lounging and art exhibitions in the store called Le Don which was started in 2017. It is divided into three sections: fashions, art and games. “We’re art, fashion, sneakers,” Uwazurike told ClickonDetriot. The journey to becoming a business owner started four years when he decided to create something that would last. “We realized that being a “Don” meant being your best self. The type of self you would be happy living with for the rest of your life,” he says.
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“Le Don Collection was built upon the foundation that one must achieve greatness in whatever line of work they are enrolled or associated with. We don’t quit or throw the towel in rather we fight. We Apply, reapply and repeat,” he added.
As a student at Wayne State University, he switched from Biology to Economics to have a grasp on business and market issues. Uwazurike then created Le Don to rival French fashions. Just like major global brands, his brands are produced in China after managing to establish extensive networks in that country.
“I figured in order to follow my passion. I had to learn about the market and also how to do business in it. I’ve managed to stay consistent for almost a decade,” he told Voyage ATL.
Nicknamed after his store, Uwazurike says he chose to open a store in Royal Oak because of his late friend DJ Slick B. And so when he finally decided on opening a fashion store, “Royal Oak just felt like the right place,” Le Don said. “We want to make sure that we’re catering to everybody and in the day in age where we’re screaming Black Lives Matter, we want to make sure that we’re leading by example by being inclusive as well.”
Being a double minority has been challenging for the Nigerian. Nonetheless, he has managed to weather the storm to draw in some good customers. “As a Nigerian business owner, you don’t get what you deserve. You’re looked at as double-minority,” Uwazurike told Detriot Free Press.
“African Americans are considered minority, but they’re not. Nigerians are considered a double minority. Nigerian business owners are not really categorized as African American business owners. They’re not shown a lot of love the same way as African Americans are shown,” he added.
Uwazurike is a man of faith and he is loud about it. He believes God is guiding his steps in all things he does. “I just think that everything I’m doing is God’s plans,” he says. “He was leading me because I understood how to be vulnerable. I’ll spend every dime on this if I have to. That’s the thing, you have to want it. So it’s still scary, but I’m up for the task.”
His passion is not only limited to fashion design, photography and entrepreneurship but politics as well. Uwazurike has since 2018 been talking about the importance of the black vote as the surest way of securing change in American society.
“That’s what black votes do,” Uwazurike said at a conference. “They make sure that our people are being heard and at this crucial time, this is when we need that. We need to come together for a common goal. We’re really fast to condemn things, but when it comes to our lives and our future, our future has to be secured. So with that being said, we have to vote. I can’t stress that enough.”