Ngozi Okaro is the Founder and Executive Director of Custom Collaborative, a New York City-based entrepreneurship and workforce development program that trains and supports women from low-income and immigrant communities to launch fashion careers and businesses.
Artist & Technologist Drue Kataoka is a Young Global Leader & Cultural Leader of the World Economic Forum and member of their Steering Committee on VR/AR/AI for the Creative Economy. She is the Creative Director of Drue Kataoka Studios.
Drue is Artist-in-Residence for Google Virtual Reality (Tilt Brush). She established a yearly arts education scholarship for youth in 2001, and is a juror for the Global Teacher Prize.
Her work has been featured in CNN, Reuters, TIME, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, Deutsche Welle, CNBC, CBS, Harvard Business Review and others.
What does style mean to you?
Style is following your own compass. Being open, but not being swayed. Having confidence in your own vision and not looking to external voices.
How important are style and substance in your life?
Substance is everything. But it is so profound, it is often opaque. Style is the light that glints off substance—allowing us to catch a glimpse of it —sometimes, but not always.
What gives you daily strength and inspiration?
Of course I gain great strength from family & friends. But also by thinking about the inspiring ones who have come before us. Those are our collective ancestors —the warriors, the goddesses, the trailblazers, the people who didn’t settle for mediocrity, mediocre justice, mediocre education, mediocre culture. They dreamed about the future. So now we are living in their future. We follow in their footsteps and owe them a great debt.
Please describe a challenging time you have experienced or seen and how you found your strength?
I admire my mom and there are so many others in history. In no particular order Harriet Tubman, Ada Lovelace, Tomoe Gozen, Frida Kahlo to name just a very few.
What are words of wisdom that you use to share with others?
Push yourself 50% farther than you think you can go. You’ll be surprised. Like true creativity, life is non-linear. You can’t map it out perfectly. Find the beauty in its imperfections and asymmetries.