Ugo Mozie is the embodiment of a young, ambitious, creative executive. From sleeping on friends' couches and not having a dime to his name, to working with Justin Bieber and Oliver Rousteingsuper, stylist, Ugo Mozie bares it all.
You’ve been working on quite a lot recently. There was the launch of your perfume, Mozaic, and then your collaboration with Five Four and supermodel Adonis Bosso. Let’s start with the perfume; what was the idea behind that?
This year has been a year of new chapters and growth. I officially transitioned from fashion full time and introduced lifestyle and management into my brand. I launched Mosaic perfume with Ancient Africa as my inspiration. The perfumes scents derived from West and North Africa and the packaging is handmade by a master craftsman in Morocco. The idea was to encourage "Made in Africa" product by introducing a luxury item coming from Africa that can be positioned amongst other high-end scents. And overall encourage adding value to the African Economy. -This year I also launched a capsule collection with the Five Four brand. In collaboration with my artist, Adonis Bosso. With this collection, I wanted to create classic timeless unisex designs that the majority of people can afford. Everything in the collection is under $100.
A lot of public figures come up with their fragrances these days. What would you say makes this one special?
What makes my perfume special is my personal touch and history behind the product. Each scent purchased is like owning a piece of culture and treasure. Not only is the scent exquisite and adored by both Men and Women, the attention to detail on the packaging and branding definitely sets it apart from the rest.
How involved were you in the process?
I was involved from the beginning to the end. I wanted to create what I felt was the perfect perfume that represented my history and culture and the perfectionist in me wanted to assure it came out exactly how I envisioned. It took 9 months to develop and complete.
Now let’s talk about your collection with Five Four and Adonis. How did this come about?
The Five Four collection was conceptualized last year by Owner, Andres Izquieta and I. We brought Adonis in to co-design the collection with me and the rest was history. Ironically, the collection was completed the same week Adonis released his first single "Jungle". So, we decided to align the video with the release of the collection. The partnership was truly magic.
Let’s go back memory lane. How did it all start for you?
Everything officially started for me when I was 11 years old. I got my first glimpse into showbiz as a model/actor living in La. After booking my first couple jobs my emerging career came to an abrupt stop when my family decided to move to Houston Texas. The transition was hard. Especially socially. At that point, I knew I had to either own being different or consider myself an outcast. I owned it. And became a voice and leader for all things unique and different. By the age of 14, I was sure of whom I was and exactly what I wanted to do. At 17, I graduated from High school and moved to New York to pursue my journey.
Did you start out wanting to work in fashion or it happened by accident?
I always wanted to work in entertainment and I always knew I had a superior level of taste and fashion sense. I was the point of contact when it came to approving outfits of my friends and family. I wasn't being paid but it was my first glimpse into styling.
What would you say has been your highpoint as a stylist?
My highest point as a stylist would be the strategic relationships and projects I was able to build and execute. The most memorable being the 2015 MET Gala. I arranged for my good friend Olivier Rousteing to attend the MET Gala with clients, Justin Bieber. Olivier and I designed the look together and Justin ended up getting Best Dressed Male that night. It was an honour and the start of something special.
My lowest point was I feel was also my highest point. In 2012, I moved to LA from NYC without a secure job or concrete plan. I counted on my New York hustle and street smarts to lead me to success. I learned very fast that I needed a new plan. After 6 months of having no work or clients, I ran out of money to live. At that point I had to decide whether to stay in La and hustle it out or humbly go back to my parents’ house in Houston where I had security. I stuck it out. I spent the next 6 months on friend’s couches, sleeping in cars, and even sleeping outside when other options failed. Although I was at my lowest point, my heart and mind were at its strongest. I never let my current situation determine my mindset and faith. I knew it was all part of my story and journey. After 1 year of living in La without any security, I landed my first celebrity client gig with Legendary Larry King and his wife Shaun King. This was a turning point in my life and career and I was able to secure my first six figure job and condo shortly after.
How difficult was it as a black man to make your mark in such a huge industry?
For a black man to make it in this industry it definitely takes a high level of patience, determination, and people skills. You have to constantly prove your worth and always go above and beyond. I believe any minority group can relate to this struggle.
What keeps you grounded?
The 2 things that keep me grounded are my God and my Family. I’ve always lived and worked with the idea that I am doing this for something more than myself. My family has always driven me and they make everything real.
If you weren’t working in fashion. What would you have been?
If I wasn't working in fashion I would have been an archaeologist or a chef. I may actually still explore those paths in the future. Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be amongst those who discovered ancient African history and helped tell our real story.
What’s the one misconception you’ll say people have of this industry?
The biggest misconception people have of this industry is that it's all glitz, glam, luxury, and fun. On the exterior, it comes off as such but the amount of work, labour, business, and patience required in the back end, is not for everyone.
What are some of your challenges?
Some of my challenges are I’m a very emotional thinker so a lot of my actions are driven by this. It’s a daily battle that gets easier each time.
What are you currently listening to
Currently, my playlist consists of Sade, Michael Jackson, Daniel Ceasar, Brent Faiyaz, Adonis Bosso, Sza, Toni Braxton, Nina Simone, and Fela.
What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was “Osho’s book on courage”
What’s one thing you think people don’t know about you?
One thing people don't know about me is that I’m a great cook.
What’s the next thing one should expect from you?
The next thing people should expect from me is more public speaking and activism work. I have a lot to say and I'm not afraid to express it. I want to be a voice of hope for the poor, the minorities, and the youth.