photo courtesy/grant legan
St. John’s Alumnus, Igee Okafor, is on a mission. As the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BOND OFFICIAL, his new, online men’s lifestyle platform, he aspires to connect various voices, empower and inform.
“BOND OFFICIAL [is] an online publication dedicated to cultivating parts of men’s culture,” Okafor explained. He and his team want to push realistic images of modern men.
Okafor was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. Through educational opportunities, he was able to travel. Eventually his journey brought him to the United States. In 2013, he moved to the city that never sleeps, to attend St. John’s University. He still resides here, after graduating in 2017.
At the age of 24, he has collaborated with many known and respected companies from GQ to Grey Goose and Express. You may have also seen Okafor’s name featured in renowned publications such as Forbes, The New York Times, Huffington Post, Paper Magazine and more.
ST. JOHN’S IMPACT
Okafor’s time at St. John’s, during which he studied business and marketing, impacted his start-up when it first began. “[It] prompted my interest in what I consider to be essential knowledge for everyday life,” he said. “Seeing how the tools I learned in my finance and accounting classes now apply to my business ventures makes me happy I took those classes seriously.”
He not only used the skills he’s acquired to navigate and make responsible decisions, but also to manage a business on his own prior to the launch of BOND OFFICIAL. At the time, Okafor created content for menswear and lifestyle brands.
“I think part of the reason I was able to build and maintain those business relationships was because of what I learned from some of my favorite professors like, Timothy Keiningham, in business school,” he went on.
Beyond the walls of St. John’s, he foresaw himself starting a business of his own, but didn’t think it would happen so soon.
“I think it all starts with knowing who you are, and what your goals are,” he said. “All of my life, I’ve been a really strong storyteller — visually, and as a writer.”
As soon as I enrolled at St. John’s University, I knew I wanted to put that to use so I started working for media publications like The Source, and Jones Magazine immediately while running my own men’s style blog,” he said.
Over the summer, he took on jobs in digital marketing and worked with St. John’s media team during his final semesters. It wasn’t long before Okafor began taking on clients of his own to help solidify their online brand presence, giving him the practice he needed.
“I was really eager to learn, work [and do] what I enjoyed, [especially] being creative,” he said.
BOND OFFICIAL is dedicated to connecting “voices of male culture.” What was Okafor’s inspiration?
“Funny enough, in a way — women,” he began. Okafor expressed his gratitude, having been surrounded by many women in his life.
“What I’ve enjoyed the most about these women seems to revolve around transparency … how freely they’re able to discuss certain subjects, and how firm and supported they are in their experiences and beliefs regardless of the matter at hand,” he said. “Women have really done a great job at building a community within themselves that embrace difference, and enthusiasm on a broad spectrum in a bold and unapologetic way.”
That is exactly what he wants to emulate within the men’s space with BOND OFFICIAL.
While his publication may be unique to most, Okafor makes clear it’s not about being unique.
“Everything we are doing has been done at some point and will continue on as time goes by,” he said. “I will say, we have a very strong focus on educating the modern man by shedding light on a variety of subjects we may not always feel comfortable talking about in person.”
Through categories like art, style and politics, this publication is encouraging men to care and be open minded.
“We really are all the same,” he explained. “The only thing that makes us different is the way we do things.”
BOND OFFICIAL is a platform where everyone can equally converse about men’s interests. In a time where women are reclaiming their narrative through movements and work, Okafor shared why it is important that men have this platform to connect and share their point of view.
“It always helps when you have a community of people you know can relate to you,” he said. This specific community offers support, encouragement, motivation and inspiration. “As a collective, we still have a long way to go, and with the variety of voices we hope to represent, we hope to inspire that breakthrough,” Okafor said.
As Okafor and his team celebrate BOND OFFICIAL launching one month ago, he recounts the challenges he faced prior to launch. “Our biggest challenge was getting the platform off the ground,” he said. “We spent a significant amount of time aligning our voice, our branding, and the thread of content we wanted to produce.”
As the founder, building the right team was essential to him. Though, Okafor admits he got lucky with a team of collaborators.
Now, they are in the process of advertising their website. “We are trying to do interviews like these, and other platforms that allow us to tell that story,” he said. “Then comes in things like financial investments and building a bigger team as the workload increases.”
He shared three tips for people looking to start build something from the ground:
“You’re only as strong as the people you have on your team so, if you’re going to build one, make it good.”
“Make deadlines. Scheduling will prove to be your best friend.”
“Make sure whatever product you’re creating serves a sustainable purpose. You’ll be tested, and that purpose is all that will keep you going.”
In the years ahead, Okafor hopes to create a sustainable brand. “I believe that people like Ralph Lauren, and Tom Forhave really done a wonderful job creating a realized brand that encompasses everything from style to grooming, travel, and entertainment,” he explained. He would like his brand to follow “a similar DNA” of what they’ve done.
In the meantime, Okafor will be writing for his favorite section: Men’s style. “A lot of men do not realize style is a huge part of one’s self-confidence, and if I can help coach through this self care as authentically as I can, I am happy!” he exclaimed. “It also [helps] that it’s a subject I consider myself to be well versed in.”