The power of words, faith, belief, and hard work all culminate into success. In 2015, Nicolette Titilayo Orji, also known as Nikki Billie Jean, founder, and editor-in-chief of All Things Ankara, encountered Cardi B for the first time. Her creative director, Troy Massa believed that their brand would be one of the first Ankara / African print fashion brands Cardi B would work with. Four years later, it indeed happened.
The date was December 4th, 2019, Nikki Billie Jean was contacted by Jennifer Udechukwu, an assistant stylist to Cardi B’s stylist Kollin Carter. Jennifer had sent a direct message on Instagram mentioning that she wanted to pull some clothes from All Things Ankara for Cardi B to wear in Nigeria. She also mentioned that she would need the clothes that same evening before their flight left for Cardi B’s mini West African tour across Nigeria and Ghana.
With only a few hours left, Nikki and her team created magic and defeated time. They made an orange mermaid dress with Ankara print piping detail from the All Things Ankara Marketplace for Cardi B. The dress was a tube-style dress that featured a half peplum and cascading ruffled details along with puffy sleeves. The bold shade of orange on Cardi B’s skin tone was a perfect combination that caught the attention of millions across social media.
Almost a year later, the team would connect again. In early November 2020, Jennifer contacted Nikki and this time, the team needed African print fabrics and accessories for a show Cardi B was doing with Facebook. The show was called ‘Cardi Tries Ballet.’
Kollin Carter and Kollin’s other assistant stylist Reva Bhatt also reached out to Nikki to pick the fabric from the All Things Ankara Shop and gold earrings from the All Things Ankara Marketplace. The fabric selected was the same fabric used to design the Ankaranista Suit from the Nikki Billie Jean Shop in 2017.
Take a look at the suit…
About Nikki Billie Jean
Nikki Billie Jean (Nicolette Titilayo Orji) is a Nigerian-American editor-in-chief, fashion designer, fashion stylist, fashion director, creative director, campaign producer, and event producer. She is of Yoruba-Igbo descent and from Maryland, based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Her name Nikki Billie Jean is inspired by her nickname “Nikki” and Michael Jackson’s song “Billie Jean.” In 2009, she adopted the stage name after changing her name on Facebook, in remembrance of Michael Jackson. She also added Billie Jean to her name because it is the only Michael Jackson song that rhymes with the name Nikki.
Nikki became passionate about Ankara print fashion while being a Vice President, member, dancer, model, event coordinator for Penn States’s African Student Association (ASA) while she was a student at Penn State. In 2013 she launched her fashion line Billie Jean Bow ties (which is now Nikki Billie Jean) at Penn State’s “Touch of Africa: Africa Alive!” and NABA’s fashion show. From designing bow ties, Nikki started designing slim-fit suits, combining vibrant Ankara patterns with formal menswear-inspired silhouettes.
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