In Conversation With Zara Odu

NT: What defines a social entrepreneur, and what drives you to embody this role? How do you see your work making a positive impact?

Zara: I never intentionally aimed to pursue a career in social entrepreneurship. Instead, I’ve always been drawn to the essence of my local environment, focusing on craft, materials, processes, and indigenous elements. These aspects naturally intertwine with the realm of social entrepreneurship.

My role as a brand consultant and builder revolves around prioritizing the process over immediate profit. By starting with an understanding of society and conscious building, we ensure that the most crucial elements are prioritized. This approach, although unconventional, leads to sustainable and circular design practices.

I firmly believe that our work impacts the lives of designers and brands. By fostering critical thinking around production methods and the impact on the environment, people, and the industry, we trigger a ripple effect with long-term consequences. It’s about instilling a sense of responsibility and awareness, ultimately leading to a positive, lasting influence.


NT: With your diverse talents, how do you navigate the balance between creative expression and avoiding burnout?

Zara: This question truly resonates with me because my work isn’t just a job; it’s my life, my passion. It’s a seamless blend where work and life intertwine, fueling each other throughout the day. Despite the constant engagement, I rarely experienced burnout until recently. Last Christmas, I realized I needed to disconnect, to recharge. Grateful for the opportunities and successes, I understand the necessity of taking breaks to maintain creativity and mental clarity. During the holiday season, I made a conscious effort to step back, to reset. By organizing my tasks and setting goals for the upcoming year, I allowed myself the freedom to fully relax and recharge. Taking breaks isn’t just about rest; it’s about finding inspiration, connecting with others, and nurturing personal growth.


NT: If you had to sum up your style in just two words, what would they be, and what makes them significant to you?

Zara: My style, in two words, is clean and effortless. I prioritize pieces that fall nicely, feel comfortable, and are easy on the eye and body. While not strictly minimalist, I prefer a look that is effortless to wear, yet includes subtle details or an edge for added interest. Comfort is key for me, often opting for familiar favourites that feel comfortable and stylish. 


NT: Take us back to the moment your passion for sustainability ignited. What inspired this commitment, and how does it influence your work today?

Zara: I never anticipated entering this space; it was always just something that intrigued me. I’ve always been drawn to concepts like local production, African fashion, and indigenous practices, viewing them through a business lens—how can we build sustainably?

While studying for my masters in the UK, my ideas crystallized into a vision of fostering brands and communities rooted in our local identity. I aimed for high-quality, luxury products with an eye on economic impact and sustainability. Initially, my focus was less on sustainability and more on process, materials, and conscious production.

However, as I delved deeper, I realized sustainability naturally aligns with these principles. While I never set out to work specifically in sustainability, I’ve always aimed for brands to have longevity and a positive impact. My commitment to this cause stems from a lifelong exposure to craftsmanship and environmental consciousness.

I’m driven by a desire to see better products, the use of superior materials, and the development of local resources across Africa. I seek solutions to our challenges and aspire to partner with global organizations to affect local change. This passion isn’t learned; it’s inherent and shapes my work every day.


NT: What are the top three essentials you always carry in your bag?

Zara:  In my bag I always have my card holder, lip gloss and recently ear pods. 


NT: What kind of impact do you hope your creative endeavors will have on the world?

Zara: In previous responses, I emphasized the importance of creating genuine solutions, not just engaging in greenwashing. My aim is to bring about real impact, transforming the lives of designers and brands by offering sustainable solutions that reshape their business practices.

I aspire for my work to not only influence our industry but also make a global impact. I envision African brands playing a significant role on the global stage, driven by impactful initiatives.

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