But she felt she needed to open a store two years later. “It’s one of the most scary, thrilling things I’ve done,” says Ibezue. “It was time to make a personal connection.”
One minute, she might be styling a client for a dinner. The next, she’s helping a teenager try on a rhinestone necklace for prom.
“I love seeing the smiles on these women’s faces,” she says later.
Nkechi Enwerem, an assistant professor and registered nurse, likes that Ibezue is available to clients. “You go to the shop, and she is there. She helps you select your bag, your shoes,” says Enwerem. “Her designs are so unique.”
Ibezue’s eclectic taste is noticeable on every rack in her boutique. There’s the three-tier vintage black lace cocktail dress, the Nigerian handmade mesh dress, an animal print silk overlay and -- another favorite -- a silk taffeta cinched skirt.
Ready-to-wear items start at $29.99 and run up to $200. She has about 50 pieces in sizes from small to extra-large. The exclusive line starts at about $250.
“It’s very good quality, but it’s affordable,” says Ibezue.
Both the ready-to-wear and custom collections are made at a Virginia factory. Luxury Quotient, an Indian company, is O’mak Designs’ exclusive distributor.
Ibezue draws her designs by hand and sends them to the seamstress. She likes to incorporate details from the ’60s and ’70s.
“You don’t see them too much anymore, but they speak to me,” says Ibezue, who is one of six designers nominated in the High Fashion category of Fashion Awards MD’s 2013 contest, which wraps up in mid-June.
Ibezue, who ends e-mails with a quote by Coco Chanel, is also very particular about fabric.
“The fabric is quality,” she says. “I’ve never had a customer return anything.”
She also continues to show her designs at shows. Later this year, her work is scheduled to appear at shows in London and Paris. “I still want to show on the runway, but I limit it because it’s so much work,” she says.
Besides, Ibezue also doesn’t like to be away from her daughters, ages 11 and 10, and husband for long.
At customers’ requests, Ibezue is currently working on a children’s line called “Precious in His Sight by O’mak” and a plus-size line called “Just Curvy by O’mak.”
Ibezue favors vibrant colors, and does not like to be restricted by what’s considered traditional for seasons. “You can wear pink in the winter,” she says.
She unveils new pieces in the spring and fall. But, she says, “there are some pieces I always have.”
One of them is a taffeta blue dress embellished with circles of African print.
“I want you to stand out,” Ibezue says. “You won’t go to an event and see 10 people wearing the dress you have on.”