Becoming successful in the corporate world is very difficult, but more so for international students. They have to adjust to an unfamiliar environment, adapt to the differences in culture, and sometimes have to learn a whole new language. They also have to face the obstacles that every other aspiring entrepreneur faces. Among many are the competitive industry, rejections, judgments, and failures.
Being able to overcome all these challenges is beyond just an ordinary feat. Yet, some were able to do so, and one of them is Ismael Ngoie. He’s currently one of the leading figures behind the online retail startup clothing brand called Wotzel and the non-profit organization Young Congolese Professional Network (YCPN).
There are numerous reasons for Ismael’s success in the industry and a positive reputation as a professional on Facebook and Instagram. All of which was achieved by struggles and also contributed to where he currently is now. He emphasizes that the best way to learn in life is by experiencing it for yourself.
From the Democratic Republic of Congo, he moved to Utah to pursue computer science in college. Living and studying as an international student came with several struggles. For instance, it was hard for him to communicate properly with other people because of his heavy French accent. But his friends and community were patient with him, and offer their support.
Life as a Computer Science undergraduate was good but Ismael had this feeling of unfulfillment. That void would later push him into exploring and acquiring other skills not related to his field of study.
The first significant event that led Ismael to become a CEO came after his graduation. Ismael like many of his other colleagues had imagined a smooth transition from college to work but this was not the case. It was April 2020, and the U.S. was on lockdown to combat the spread of the Corona Virus. This caused serious job shortages all over the country, and so young graduates like Ismael could not easily find jobs.
The relentless search continues for 3 months until he was finally able to secure a job but at a cost. First, the job was not related to his field of study, and secondly, it meant he has to switch states which means he had to adapt to a different environment all over again.
All these pose a challenge to Ismael but he was not willing to let it deter his faith.
While fully employed in Florida, Tampa, Ismael began to thinker with his mind and explore the clothing industry.
Using the other skill he learned in school, he opened a clothing brand and instantly experiences remarkable sales.
Having witnessed the potential of the industry, Ismael decided to build his brand, and begin producing his own products. Figuring out how to do that was a challenge on his own, so while Ismael sort for answers, he kept the business running by diving into dropshipping.
After much research, Ismael finally launched his own clothing brand. In less than a few weeks, he was out of stock, and the demand for more products was high. With this, he knew it was time to trademark his brand's name. While applying for a trademark, he got a letter from a popular clothing brand, who had claimed brand piracy, because Ismael's brand had the same first two letters as the companies name.
Ismael was forced to cut his success short and closed down in what he would later describe as “the lowest point of his life”.
But for a man who was known to defile odds throughout his life, Ismael wasn't ready to back down.
After many weeks of deliberation, and planning, Ismael would later rebrand, and relaunch his clothing brand under the now famous name — Wotzel. It didn't take quite long before the brand began to experience remarkable success due to its unique and high-quality budget-friendly production.
Ismael is also working as the co-founder of YCPN to help young Congolese take their part in helping the Democratic Republic of the Congo develop. There’s still a lot in store for him in the future, so he’s exerting maximum effort to reach greater heights in life and contribute more to his community.