Banana Republic in New York’s Rockefeller Center Features Colgate Alumnus’ Clothing Line


Uyi Omorogbe at his pop-up

Rockefeller Center’s Banana Republic store recently featured a pop-up of designs by NaSo, a clothing line created by Colgate alumnus Uyi Omorogbe during his junior year at Colgate. Omorogbe, who graduated in 2019, had the opportunity to start his company when he joined Colgate’s Thought Into Action (TIA), a program that supports Colgate entrepreneurs during their time on campus and beyond. By the end of his junior year, Omorogbe had already begun hiring other students to support his company. Banana Republic featured NaSo from Feb. 20 through Feb. 23.

Omorogbe reflected on the extensive effort he has put into his company during the last three years and the thrill of getting to see his company’s success.

“You get out what you put in,” Omorogbe said. “TIA has given me a true opportunity to change the world.”

Because of his Nigerian roots, Omorogbe chose to name his company NaSo, the Nigerian word for “empowerment,” and decided to use authentic prints and fabric from Africa to make the clothing.

According to NaSo’s website on Kickstarter, the company is solving a current problem in the fashion industry: most African-inspired clothing that exists on the market today is limited in versatility and tends to overuse vibrant West African prints.

“At NaSo, we have taken a minimalistic approach by focusing on the details, designing clothing that can be worn to any event and every party,” Omorogbe said on the website. “We create products that bring the talent of African communities to the global stage, showing that African-inspired clothing has a place in the world of fashion.”

Other than permeating the fashion industry, part of NaSo’s mission is to improve the educational experience in Africa through renovation efforts. Omorogbe’s inspiration comes from Okuosa Primary School (OPS) located in Urhokuosa Village, Nigeria, the school Omorogbe’s father attended at age eight.

“OPS provides education to over 400 students between the ages of five and 13,” Omorogbe said. “I had the opportunity to visit OPS and learn first-hand the struggles that the teachers and students face. I quickly realized that NaSo could make a difference.”

The company donates seven percent of its sales to building schools in underprivileged areas of Africa. NaSo provides desks, chairs, roofing and bathrooms provided by local construction workers and carpenters. Additionally, according to NaSo’s website, someone who pledges over 100 dollars will receive a shirt and a school desk will be made for OPS with his or her name engraved on it. People can pledge from five dollars to more than 5,000.

“A local carpenter in Nigeria will make a dedicated school desk with your name engraved on it for an OPS student,” Omorogbe stated.

Reliance on local labor is not solely dedicated to renovation of schools, however. NaSo’s products are also made in Nigeria.

“Given my Nigerian bacground, I wanted NaSo to represent more than just clothing. Our mission is to empower communities across Africa,” Omorogbe said. “100 percent of our clothing is made by tailors in Nigeria who are struggling to keep their businesses afloat.”

In addition to founding NaSo, Omorogbe currently functions as the CEO for his company. His success inspired sophomore Hunter Firment to become involved in the TIA program. Firment was a first-year on Colgate’s men’s soccer team when Omorgobe was a senior, and felt compelled to follow his lead and join TIA.

“At first, TIA seemed like a pretty daunting task,” Firment said. “I’ve had some successes and struggles so far, but it’s a really cool and rare opportunity that I’m grateful to be a part of.”

While initially feeling nervous about his involvement, Firment felt reassured by the encouraging TIA mentors and their level of professionalism.

“TIA has changed my Colgate experience because now, on some Saturday mornings, I’m sitting in The Incubator brainstorming rather than sleeping until noon,” Firment said.

Firment has always felt passionate about music and believes that TIA has allowed him to gain greater experience in the music industry. He is currently working on creating a platform where new artists can connect.

“Like the TIA mentors always say, we have to ‘pivot’ on some of our ideas and change them to fit our bigger picture goals,” Firment said.

Colgate’s TIA program offers students the opportunity to pursue their own entrepreneurial agendas, providing students with an extensive alumni network to do so. The headquarters are located on 20 Utica Street in downtown Hamilton, and is formally known as “The Incubator,” where participants meet seven times a year to learn more about entrepreneurship and to receive feedback on their ventures. Omorogbe spoke highly of the opportunities that TIA opened up for him.

“[TIA] greatly changed my experience at Colgate,” Omorogbe said. “I found the one thing I truly loved that allowed me to express my creative side.”