Meet Uyi Omorogbe: TikTok’s Resident Menace and Founder of Clothing Brand NASO
TikTok sensation Uyi Omorogbe has figured out a way to get a laugh out of your African parents without a life lesson being attached to it. The Nigerian-American’s account has amassed more than 3 million followers for doing something few of us are brave enough to even think about – annoying his very African, very tired parents.
Uyi’s TikTok success came from a very well-thought-out, fearlessly millennial approach using the undeniable power of social media. After learning about the app and how quickly creators found audiences, he figured that creating videos while donning his own garments would garner attention to both his comedic talents, as well as his African-inspired clothing brand NASO. And he was absolutely correct. The 23-year old gained millions of followers within 10 months, and his audiences continue to grow as his brand and talents expand.
Uyi launched NASO in 2019 as a way to pay homage to his Nigerian heritage and have that manifest through his clothing and style while being able to give back to and share his success with his family and community. NASO loosely translates to “That’s right, well done” in Nigerian slang and the name certainly matches the vibe created through Uyi’s company. The Colgate University grad always dreamed of giving back to his communities – both Nigerian and American – and created NASO with the hopes of being able to make tangible changes in education while sharing West African fashion with the world.
NASO built their first school in Urhokuosa village in 2019 (only a few months after starting the company), where his father was born and raised, and has plans for more ways to help develop and improve education within the West African nation, as well as neglected communities within the US.
We spoke with Uyi about his funny bone, building success with your family, and NASO’s upcoming collaboration with Converse.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
You created your TikTok to bring awareness towards your brand NASO. Why did you think that platform would bring you success?
We had recently partnered with Banana Republic and were going to move into more stores and then COVID happened. I knew I had to pivot to a digital strategy, but didn’t have money to pay for media ads, media buying, and all that type of stuff. It was during that time that people kept sending me videos of this new app called TikTok and so I finally download it. I saw people build audiences very quickly, getting 5,000 followers in a month. And I thought, “Huh, what if I could create content that was sort of tangentially related to my business and then sort of build an audience then introduce the audience to my brand?” And so that’s why I thought it would make sense. And it ended up working in the end.
How did the ‘Pissing Off My African Parents” series begin and how have they not
disowned you yet?
The second question, no matter what, I will not know the answer to that one. But yeah, it’s funny I was just thinking about different content to make. I was in the kitchen with my little sister and my dad, and I remember singing this song, this punk-emo song, just in the kitchen in general. And my dad was looking at me like, “What? What are you doing?” And it was at that moment I was like, “Wait, that’s actually hilarious.” So a week later I told my sister, “Hey, I’m going to do the same thing” but get dad’s reaction.” Then I posted it on TikTok and that one started to do well and then one thing led to another and they all started doing pretty well.
Photo courtesy of Uyi Omorogbe
What’s it like building your success with your family right by your side?
It’s definitely very fun. It was a very exciting time when the videos were blowing up and then my little sister’s like, “What is going on?” She just turned 15, so she’s very much in that Gen Z world but yeah, it’s been great to have my family alongside me during the whole ride.
And what about any family back in Nigeria? Do they know what’s going on?
It’s funny I actually went back to Nigeria earlier this year right before a lot of strict COVID traveling restrictions. Then once in Nigeria, there were so many people that recognized me from the videos. Whether it was my family or it was from just random people in Lagos or something like that. It was actually pretty funny to see how far the videos have spread.
Tell us more about your clothing brand NASO.
I founded NASO to be a true representation of the diaspora. Basically, marrying Western and African culture through design, story, and community. I traveled to Nigeria during my fourth and final year at university. When I started the brand, I just wanted to explore the opportunity of manufacturing in Africa. I ended up going to the rural village my father grew up in Nigeria for the first time and then came across the primary school that he attended when he was younger. And obviously, I’ve been to Nigeria many times. I’ve seen poverty, but not in an education space like that in a rural area. I met the teachers and the students, absolutely fell in love with them, and was telling them “You guys dream and do whatever you want to do. You CAN do it.” And then as I was leaving I thought, “Man, I wish I could actually change the situation.” Luckily, we were able to help build them a new school by the time I graduated university in 2019. And so ever since then, it was kind of like, “How do we keep making tangible change in communities across the continent of Africa and underserved communities in the US as well.”
Do you feel like NASO has brought you closer to your Nigerian roots?
Oh, 100%. It definitely has. Prior to that, I was going to Nigeria maybe once every four years or something like that with my family. And now, I go at least once a year. So, it’s definitely brought me a lot closer to my heritage. It’s built a fantastic bond between me and my roots.
So NASO has a collaboration coming out with Converse, what can supporters expect to see?
They’ll be able to go to the Converse seller store in SoHo, New York City, and see a limited collection of NASO’s fall look book and fall styles in general. They should expect to see some really awesome designs. Like I said, our direct reflection of a diaspora marrying Western and African culture through design and story. The shoe that we did with Converse is not for sale, but it will be on display if they want to see how the diaspora is represented in a sneaker as well. They can see me there as well, I’ll be there the whole time, DJ, music, everything.
NASO’s FW ’21 collection and collaboration with Converse will be on display in Converse’s flagship store in New York City’s SoHo from 10/28-10/30, and available online on 10/31. Follow Uyi on Instagram, and TikTok to keep up with the rising comedian and designer.