The rise of Social Media has been nothing short of phenomenal. From its desktop infancy to its mobile ‘adult-essence’, there has been a marked maturity in the way individuals connect. With a compatible device and a few touches on a screen, one can reconnect with an old high school acquaintance, ‘match’ someone based on a profile, or in a Creative’s case, use it to showcase the flair that lies within. Careers have been built, prospered and maintained via effective use of the various mediums. But, let’s play devil’s advocate. If SM ceased to exist, would your social skills survive the cull? This week, I introduce a man whose social skills would not only ensure his survival, they would also ensure that he thrives as an apex in a world that recognises real relationships have always been the true source of power.
In Remi Akande, the 27-year-old Creative from Manchester, one finds a self-aware man that understands the importance of cultivating legitimate exchanges in the real world. “If social media was to go tomorrow, what are you gonna be left with?”, he explains. “If you’re just a character behind a screen, you’re gonna struggle in real life. I always build real relationships – I wanna be the real me”. And I agree. In the age of SM, facades and gimmicks are commonplace. But, if you stay true to self and respectful when engaging with people, that cannot be forgotten. “I think it’s just being honest and open. If people know you as a good, genuine and decent person, they will respect that”.
To him, this moral compass is a mark of success. Though he operates in the realms of SM, it is what guides him when navigating the terrains of real life interactions. If one were to speak from a quantitative standpoint, he himself admits his ‘following’ isn’t what some may deem extensive. But one would be fooled if they believe this is to his detriment. “I don’t have a massive amount of followers, but I’ve built up my brand. Brands work with me I think because of the person I am – the messages, positivity and quality of the stuff I put out”. The Creatives who feel a sense of achievement from a plethora of followers are entitled to do so. Like it or not, it is a real milestone. But to use the other term that has come to the fore in recent times, how exactly are they influencing? What is their message? “Success is many different things”, he shares. “It’s all subjective. When you have these little goals, they always change and evolve. Success could be gettin’ an email – those small wins make success. Those are the things that appeal to me”. And I agree. We are what we continually believe.
It’s important to be humble.
There is an understated humility to him. Though the terms ‘Creative’ and ‘Influencer’ are used interchangeably within the SM realm when referencing individuals such as Remi, it is not one he himself adopts. “I don’t like to be pigeon-holed into a box in any kind of sense”, he admits. When one considers he not only excels as a Content Creator; Influencer, Blogger and Model, but also graduated from the University of Manchester with an LLB, followed by an LPC and an MSc in Law, you begin to understand the multi-faceted nature of his abilities. “I guess at the moment everyone likes to put someone in a category or a box – that’s the term everyone’s usin’ at the moment”, he asserts. “I would class myself as someone who is creatin’ content I guess. If you wanna call me an Influencer, that’s entirely up to you – whatever you see that as. My angle on it is a little bit different – I’m just sharin’ my passion for for style and clothes. It’s me sharin’ myself and who I am. The way I do it is to try and put positivity and good energy out there and try and motivate people”. Those who have followed his journey have bared witnessed. Through real relationships, he has excelled. “I’m always strivin’ for more. I’m always tryin’ to be that 1% better than yesterday”.
Reflecting on his formative years, he confides his ardor for fashion stems from the family home wherein he was taught “first impressions count”. And I agree. As a black male, you’re taught from early you must work twice as hard with a steely resolve to make your way in the aforementioned terrains of real life interactions. Alongside his friend, Domaine Esdale, in 2014, the pair set up MCR Fashion Industry, a rising fashion events and marketing agency. Over the years, the company has achieved huge notoriety for their large scale seasonal fashion shows, amassing a cult following across the UK. Acknowledging a gap in the market, the apex duo capitalised. “We realised there was nothin’ goin’ on in Manchester“, he remembers. “There was a huge gap for fashion – everythin’ was in London. When we set up the company, our aim was to put Manchester out there. We threw a few networkin’ events for Creatives to start off with, then we said we need to push this thing forward. We realised if we did a fashion show or catwalk, we can kill it – no one was really doin’ this. We ended up puttin’ the feelers out – luckily we had a good network”. The result of this was culminated in their inaugural event: Monochrome circa 2014.
Since then, the success of their events grew. “The fashion events grew the company massively to the point we were sellin’ out every event. It became a sought after calendar event”. Since then, the power of building real relationships meant they were able to work alongside brands such as Armani; Flannels, Gucci, Tom Ford and Topman. No mere feat. But, it wasn’t just the company name which gained notoriety. Through the power of building real relationships, Remi’s work-rate was recognised.
I’m just hungry to be the best version of me.
In what he dubs “the maddest year of my life”, 2018 proved that by staying true to self, the universe responded to the positivity he radiated. By A Magazine, he was selected for an accolade he could not have fathomed. “They were watchin’ me and my growth and saw how I built the business and myself. They admired that. They got in touch and said we’re doin’ a feature on the thirty most influential people in Manchester under thirty. I thought it was a joke. To be in that company is crazy. That was a massive, massive achievement”. And I commend him. Though one may not actively seek recognition or accolades, it is hard to deny the feeling of joy they bring. By building the business over the years, he gained the courage to build his personal brand thus resulting in the position he holds today. “Last year was the most perfect thing. I was gettin’ all these accolades and mentions and campaigns. 2018 was a blessed year”.
Captivated by the positive influence he wielded, Slaters approached him to be included in their ‘Stand Up, Suit Up’ campaign in which he was granted full artistic direction. “The thing that resonated with me, they sat down with me and said this is your campaign. They interviewed me and asked me about my story. I came from a not so good area and built myself up”. Again, by adopting that ‘twice as hard’ mindset, he has displayed the capabilities to excel. “My strengths are my work ethic; dedication, determination, drive and my ambition. I’m just hungry to be the best version of me. I wanna inspire others to be the best they can be as well”.
For him, happiness “is being proud in whatever I do”. And I agree. When one takes real satisfaction in their work, it is reflected. Though he has worked alongside some major players in the fashion industry, when asked his biggest achievement to date, his answer again evokes that understated humility. “Settin’ up my own blog was a bit thing. That was somethin’ I sat on for like two years. I never put it out there because I was worried about so many things. I was doubtin’ myself. I went to my friend’s mother’s funeral and thought, life’s too short. I went home that night and pressed the button. I got it goin'”.
You gotta find a way to make things happen.
Balancing multiple jobs whilst finding the time, energy and inspiration to create is not for the faint of heart. But he manages. “It’s hard man, it’s hard”, he laments. “It’s a constant battle tryna do your own thing and have your own time and be creative as well. I never stop workin’ – I’m always on the go. I’ve worked multiple jobs and still doin’ what I’m doin’. It’s findin’ time to do things and how bad you want things. If I have to go out on my lunch break or be up at 5am, I’ll do it. There’s been times when I’ve finished the day, travelled straight down to London for a job, finished there in the early hours of the morning, driven straight back to Manchester through the night, thrown on a suit and straight back into the office for 9am with no sleep, ready to do it all over again. You gotta find a way to make things happen”. And I agree. I witnessed this first hand. Success is subjective. Yes. But how bad do you want your success? “I think I just constantly push myself”, he continues. “I’m that determined guy. I never stop and take no for an answer. I’m relentless and driven – I think it kind of shows with everythin’ I’ve been doin’ and how I’ve evolved. Life gets in the way but you gotta push through. It hasn’t been an easy journey”.
From a child inspired by his familial roots to the man he has become, his growth has been exceptional. But he is far from finished. Here is a man armed with an academic and social intelligence who has forged his own path. Here is a man who has shown true determination and prowess and has invested in himself. Here is a man who though he uses the power of SM to his advantage, has never forgotten that real relationships have always been the true source of power.