If there is a major networking event in Detroit, concert, rally for a cause, group community service, or anything that makes Detroit look positive these days, Chigozie “Chi” Uwazurike more than likely knows about it, is going to support it, or is behind the event himself.
Many Detroiters know Chi as the creator of YPVL Clothing, but he is becoming much more than that. Through hard work and dedication, Chi is a young entrepreneur who is looking to leave a positive impact on the city of Detroit no matter what it takes.
SooDetroit Magazine was able to catch up with Chi during his busy schedule to talk about his networking events and what makes him proud as a young entrepreneur.
FINALLY! SooDetroit Magazine and one of the hardest working young men in Detroit get a chance to catch up. We’re very happy that you took the time out of your business schedule to speak with us. How is life currently treating you?
Life is great, can’t complain. I’m very blessed and healthy so thanks to the man upstairs.
Over the past several years, you’ve made quite a name for yourself in the city with your YPVL clothing line. Now I understand that YPVL means “Young & Productive Vintage Life”. What exactly does that mean to you and how did you come up with that concept?
YPVL means when you’re productive in your environment or line of discourse; you’re able to live a life of equality or rather a way of path that makes sense to you, can enhance you and make you better. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.
Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, continuity, and success have no meaning.
Nevertheless YPVL was formed by a group of 3 individuals who had different perspectives but one similar goal. We researched for at least a year without any help and just recently we attained our LLC, sales tax, tax ID and all the legal documents we needed to be able to sale professionally in and out of Michigan.
On any given day, you can spot a Detroiter wearing your clothing. Whether it’s a hat, t-shirt, or a baseball jersey, you’ve pushed your brand to the point that it has become (and still becoming) a household name.
Do you feel that your success is attributed to proper branding, networking, having a hot product, or all of the above?
My success is attributed to all of the above because I feel like I and my team go so hard on the social media sites, on the street and everywhere else you can think of.
When I first started off I used to carry this duffle bag giving out shirts and hoodies for free and people used to call me “duffle bag boy ” because I always had it wherever I went but as time passed I stopped carrying it but my point is … just because I stopped carrying it doesn’t mean that I don’t go hard as I used to because I do, but now I just do it professionally.
Everything we’ve done or gained is because we worked hard for it and went 10 times harder than any clothing line in Detroit, period.
In 2013 we were nominated for best clothing line in Detroit by hot 107.5, unfortunately we didn’t get it, but I was just “geeked” by our name being on the card. And 2014 comes around we get to sponsor summer Jamz 17. Out of every clothing line in Detroit hot 107.5 picked us and to top it off they picked us again to sponsor it this year, so it just shows that the hard work is paying off.
To this date, what are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
I am definitely most proud of being in a position to help people. I’ve always been a type to give than receive. In the past two years I’ve presented my own fashion show twice, which helped put a lot of local designers and models on the scenes, which kicked off their careers.
I also presented an annual toy drive for the kids at the shelter to make sure they had presents under their tree on Christmas. Those are my most proud moments making others smile and making sure they are in a good position like the rest.
During the past two months, you’ve held your “Young Moguls With a Plan” networking seminar where entrepreneurs, radio hosts, music talent, and journalists have been able to share their trials and tribulations on becoming successful.
In both seminars, you’ve had an overwhelming turnout as many in attendance were able to pick the brains of those you chose for the panel. How important was it for you to not only have this seminar, but the reason behind it?
This event was very well needed because I get so many questions each day about so many different things and I figured a way to help people out with several questions they may have was to hold a networking event where different individuals from different genres come together to share their trials and tribulations on how they started, what steps it took for them to start, how they stayed on top of their craft and what tips they may have for someone in the audience looking to do or follow the same path.
This event is all about helping the next person, because I don’t see how any human being can say they are living and haven’t thought about helping another individual.
Now the word on the street is that you will be taking this seminar to other states. Can you tell us about that?
Yes, most definitely. I’ve already held two successful events In Detroit and I figured it’s about time other states knew about the young moguls in their town. So I made some phone calls to some of my friends out of state and got some locations and dates booked.
Being a college graduate who is currently working on his Master’s degree, what is the importance of being a young and educated black man in today’s society to you?
Education is very essential; it provides you with a tool you can’t find in the streets and that’s knowing who you are and your worth. My mind is a weapon. I don’t need to carry a gun or any type of metal to feel safe.
I encourage everybody to get some type of education, because it gives you the fundamentals to function in the real world and this doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a job right after college but you can use the skills you’ve acquired in college to find the job that you will be happy working for the rest of your life.
One thing that is noticed about you is that you support everyone. It does not matter who it is, what event, or where it is. People know that when they contact you to show support, you give it willingly.
In a city where support for our own is sometimes on the slim side, what makes you support nearly everyone and not asking for anything in return?
I feel like I was built that way and I try to lead by example because charity starts at home. A leader is different from a boss because a leader shows you how to do it and a boss tells you what to do. I try to show some form of leadership because I have hope that one day the city can come together and support one another without looking for anything in return.
God blesses me every day for being myself and being true to who I am because I don’t do it for the credit. The best way to see a person is by not looking at them because when you’re looking they tend to be on their best behavior so I tend to be myself at all times. What you see is what you get. On and off the camera and social media.
Lastly, when it is all said and done, what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? When people think of Chi, what is the first thought that you want to come to mind?
I want to leave Love, kindness, self-integrity, self-respect, and positivity. I just want to be remembered when I’m gone. I want the world to know my intentions were always good, just a few might have misunderstood.
Upcoming dates for the “Young Moguls With A plan” Tour
June – Los Angeles, CA
July – Manhattan, NY
August- Atlanta, Georgia
September – Dallas, Texas
October- Chicago, IL
November- Columbus, Ohio
To keep up with Chi, you can follow him on social media via Instagram @ypvl_chi. Stay tuned for more to come from him.