Jeremiah Ogbodo popularly known as Swanky Jerry is a celebrity fashion stylist and designer. He officially stormed the fashion industry about 13 months ago and in a very little time he has successfully garnered a handful of A-list clientele. The 22 year-old undergraduate of UNILAG, who also is the youngest celebrity stylist in Nigeria, had a chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly and he told us about how the journey began, his entry to the fashion world, how he bagged the job as Tonto Dike’s official fashion stylist and the magic he does to make her look good.
Who is Swanky Jerry?
I’m Jeremiah Ogbodo, the third child of a family of seven. I’m 22, a student of the University of Lagos and the CEO of Swanky Signatures and Swanky Signatures Styling which is a fashion and life style brand that caters to the fashion needs of both male and female celebrities.
How has the experience so far been like since you started business 13 months ago?
The experience has been good so far. I’ve been able to meet people from different parts of the world, as well as travel to beautiful cities. I have worked with a large number of celebrities, and I’m very grateful for considering my short time in this industry. I am well aware that I only have 13 months of styling and fashion design to my name, so I believe I still have a long way to go in terms of learning the business and gaining more experience.
When did you realize you have a knack for styling people?
First, people always complimented me on many of my outfits or the way I combined pieces. Then it got to the point where friends would ask me for advice on what to wear to certain events or they would say what do you think I should wear with these pair of trousers or these new pair of shoes. Eventually I always found myself dressing people up all the time, which I started to love. After a while I realised that I was really passionate about it and decided to take it up as a career.
Which of your jobs would you recall as the most challenging?
Every job, to me is challenging because
of the passion I have for styling and making people look good. Whenever I received a call for a booking, I put 100 percent into the job and make sure I deliver to a high standard. If I had to name the biggest challenge I’ve faced in the 13 months I have been working, I would say it was the Video Hit Show (VHS) contract. Swanky Signatures Styling was the official stylist of the TV show. We were shooting back to back for 18 weeks. I think that has been the most challenging for me because I had no time to even rest or take up any other job. It was just VHS the whole 18 weeks.
Which would you say is the most exciting job you’ve handled so far?
My most exciting job would be whilst I was in the United States of America. I was called to style Freeze of Cool FM the host at the Music and Catwalk Fashion Show in New York and I also styled Davido’s All of You music video which was also shot in
New York. I styled the incredible Annie Macaulay-Idibia for the NEA Award as well as Kendra Etufuwa, Jennifer Olize and more. It was really fun for me. Another amazing job I did whilst I was there was styling the Yvonne Couture collection.
How does it feel to be the youngest celebrity stylist in Nigeria?
It’s a weird feeling, to be honest. There are so many stylists in Nigeria who do a great job, so to be recognised for my work, and to be labelled as the youngest feels great. I truly work hard and put my best into all of my projects, so to be applauded as the youngest stylist in Nigeria doing a good job feels so good!! The biggest compliment of all is being recommended by celebrities, socialites and people of great importance to their friends. Having someone tell you “you’re a good stylist” is nice, but when they actually recommend you to an individual or for a project, it shows that they truly love what you do, and have faith in what you can do for someone they know.
They are quite a lot of things that make a good stylist but these are a few that I find most important to me:
Good organization and time management is key. You are given deadline constantly. Some jobs are far away whilst some are close to home, but whichever the case, you must always be able to manage your time well. Nothing says professionalism louder than someone who turns up to a shoot/meeting and they are completely organised and ready to go!
Trend awareness is important. It’s fine and well to be able to dress someone, but a lot of people think that’s it. Being trendy and knowing what is current in each season is essential also, knowing the future trends keeps you on your A game. Know what’s trendy and make it your own. Good networking/communication skills. Talking to big companies or people could be daunting but to be honest you will get the hang of it with practice. I love talking to as many people as possible these days. Getting to know people is important and most of all its even better that people get to know the great person you are. It’s great for business and it guarantees that you’ll never be out of job for long.
Being open minded. For me this is a characteristic that people will benefit from no matter what industry they work in. In certain careers, you can’t always be in control of everything.
Who are your role models when it comes to styling?
I have quite a number of role models and people I look up to. My list includes people such as; Jeanann Williams, Tara Swennen, Samantha McMillen, Petra Flannery, Ilaria Urbinati, Mariel Haenn and Rob Zangardi, Elizabeth Stewart and Jessica Paster. They are different individuals with different styles and personas. I like them for different reasons.
Who are the celebrities you have styled?
I have worked with such a large number of people in the music, fashion, beauty and film industries. Sometimes when I look at my clientele, it still amazes me. Nearly everyone from these industries is either wearing my designs or have been styled by me. My male clientele include 2Face, Eldee, Iyanya, David O, Dammy Krane, N6, Dr Sid, Sarz Beat, Timaya, Don Jazzy, MI, Ice Prince, Yung L, Endia, Praiz, Yomi Black, Vector, Uti Nwachuku, Majid Michel, Freeze Cool FM, Adams soundcity, K9, Oritshefemi. Then for the females, the likes of Tonto Dikeh, Ini Edo, Juliet Ibrahim, Toke Makinwa, Annie Macaulay, Waje, Emma Nyra, Aramide, Yemi Alade, Tiwa Savage, Rukky Sanda, Tiffany (Azonto queen), Susan Peters, Glory, Ify Jones, Kendra Etufuwa, Karen Young, Dabota Lawson, Kaffy the dance queen, Veezeebaybeh, Funke Akindele, Bukky Wright, Eniola Badmus and so many more.
We learnt you are Tonto Dike’s official stylist, when and how did you get the job?
Yes, I am. It just happened really randomly. I was at home when I received a call from my friend, Gbemi Phillips. She said, ‘Swanky, Swanky’ to which I replied ‘GP…?’ and then she dropped the bomb by telling me, ‘Tonto Dikeh needs a stylist and you’ve been recommended!’ So, I had a meeting with the actress and we hit it off right away. The first look I did for her was the pink jumpsuit she wore for the Torn movie premiere where she sported that cute blonde bob. She absolutely loved it, so did her fans, and that was it! I got the job and was made her official stylist.
A lot of people have commended Tonto Dike’s (dressing) style of recent and you are being applauded for that, how do you feel about that?
I must say I feel really good about the way people are talking about the actress’s total transformation by Swanky Signature Styling. I like it when my job speaks for me and I don’t have to say much or sell myself! Tonto’s fans are just like her, in that they speak their mind. I knew it would be a tough job to take on, but I’m glad and relieved that I did a great job so far, because I know her fans would have shown me hell if otherwise.
What magic did you perform on her?
That’s just too funny. When you hire Swanky’s Signatures Styling, you can only expect to be transformed. When you get the Signature touch everything becomes magic. I would like to say though, that one thing I make sure I do when styling my clients is this; I style them according to their body shape and personalities. Many stylists have a specific style and in a way force that style unto their clients whether it looks good on them or not. That’s not a good way to work. I make sure that however I style my client, they look fabulous and they are most of all comfortable. What suits Tonto might not be something Tiwa Savage would wear and vice versa. I may dress Don Jazzy a certain way but would have to pick a totally different wardrobe for Dammy Krane. The magic that you ask of is simply bringing out the best of each individual or client by enhancing their own specific style and not dressing them like someone else.
You also style for music videos, which music videos have you styled for?
Let’s see., I was responsible for David O’s All of You video in New York, Oritshefemi ft Vector, N6 featuring Iyanya, YungL Fever and a few others.
Tell us about your education background?
I’m still a student at the University of Lagos. I attended Command Nursery and Primary School and then Command Secondary School.
Where do you see Swanky Jerry as a brand in five years?
I see myself where God takes me. He’s been doing amazing things in my life so far, so I put all my trust in Him.
– TINUOLA JOSEPH