If you don't already know, Okera Banks is a well established celebrity and editorial stylist, designer, and all around fashion expert who has taken her love for all things fashion and style and turned it into a career filled with inspiration, a strong network, and an even stronger skillsket. Her work has been featured in major publications like Cosmopolitan Magazine, E! Online, and countless others. Her style and designs can be seen on the likes of Mary J. Blige, Niecy Nash, Tiffany Haddish, Anthony Anderson, Zendaya, and Mel B. just to name a few.
Upon binge listening to her Style Lounge Podcast where she has insightful conversations with fashion icons and celebs who share her love of style, I had to bring her wit and wisdom to The Walking Art Blog. See our interview below to learn more about Okera as a brand, what she believes sets fashion newcomers apart, and more.
First thing’s first, what made you want to get started as a stylist / designer in the first place?
What made me want to become a designer/stylist is the love for art and everything fashion. I wanted to be a model but because I was height challenged, I decided to learn everything there was to know about fashion and style. Design, Costume Designing and Styling is what spoke to me while gaining the knowledge.
Some of your first stops on your fashion journey included an internship at Mirabella Magazine as well as working as an assistant fashion editor, what’s a major key that these experiences taught you early on in your career that you still use today?
The one major key that my experiences taught me early on in my career and I still use today is my mantra... Stay Ready Be Ready! That means simply stay ready and be ready to present, perform, deliver with ONLY the best energy, options, ideas, suggestions and solutions.
With so many people in today’s age aspiring to be an “it” stylist to celebs and major publications, true respect for the craft can sometimes be hard to come by. What do you feel like sets an aspiring stylist apart from the rest and what do you feel is needed to truly gain respect and desired success in the field?
What I feel that sets an aspiring stylist apart is one's personal calling card, which is their personal niche' and style. That comes with knowing your signature touch of style. What I think is necessary to gain respect and success in any field especially in this field is being consisent, taking creative risks, hard work, going the extra mile to gain information, constantly evolving and reinventing yourself and others.
Let’s talk about OTG Essentials, the cohesive collection of interchangeable pieces that you created “for men and women that can be worn multiple ways throughout the day into the evening’s most festive occasions.” What inspired you to start the collection?
What inspired me to start my OTG Essentials collection was out of my own necessity. I have always had a very fast paced, on the go lifestyle. But there was a very unique season in my life where along with balancing costume designing multiple televisions shows, with one of the multiple shows having me travel once a week, styling my clients and taking on the duties of becoming a caregiver to my mother, my comfort became equally priority to me being fly as I worked and traveled while remaining always ready while on the go. So, I created and designed a collection of easy travel, bold, sexy, interchangeable garments that convert from one look to another look throughout my day for different occasions so I could stay ready, be ready.
So, the Style Lounge is one of my new fave podcasts. You truly have a gift for curating insightful content through your conversations with fashion insiders. My favorite interview was with designing icon Karl Kani. You two discussed staying true to your brand and your dream even during the low points and off seasons. What actions and mindsets do you practice in order to continue putting in work and staying focused during the hardest of times?
The Karl Kani interview was a special interview because I grew up influenced and being apart of hip hop culture and street fashion. One of my biggest practice in staying focused during the most challenging time(s) is working out and laughter. These are by far my top 2 medicines during those times.
Lastly, I want to ask you a style question that you always ask your guests! What does Okera wear to the grocery store, date night, and when you’re handling business?
Ha Ha Ha .... Good One! What does Okera wear to the grocery store, date night and when I am handling business. Well, I am not a person who plans a grocery store day, maybe a farmers market day but not a grocery store day. So, often times Grocery Store Okera is apart of my everyday look. I incorporate my grocery shopping at the end of my work day or coming from a workout session, which means I am often in jeans and a blazer, a dress, a jumper, a layered ensemble look with a cute shoe or in workout gear, baseball cap and sneakers. Date Night Okera: depending on the date, I am either in a fitted sassy dress, jumper or skinny jeans and a fashion top and pumps. Handling Business Okera will often will do a casual business dress with or without a light weight blazer with pumps or an ankle boot and a good bag.
Okera, thank you so much for taking some time out of your busy day to inspire here on the blog! It was a pleasure. If you liked this interview, feel free to comment and keep up with Okera via her website, Instagram, and Style Lounge Podcast. Don't forget to shop OTG Essentials!