Emay Enemokwu Discusses Jehucal, Starting Your Own Brand and How to Overcome Small Talk At Events

October 26, 2022 by Joey Birch

Emay Enemokwu Discusses Jehucal, Starting Your Own Brand and How to Overcome Small Talk At Events

Emay Enemokwu has been working on his vision since the age of 15. What began as a project in his university bedroom has since flourished into a multi-faced brand that encapsulates the line between streetwear and high-end fashion.

We sat down with Emay to discuss everything from Jehucal to founding your own brand. 

KG: Emay, it’s great to speak to you and find out more about your work. How’re you doing?

I currently have a sore throat, 2 major projects to work on in the next month and a half + our normal release schedule and it's cold as hell. But I have a trim, so everything is okay.

KG: As we are a sneaker platform we have to ask: what’s your favourite sneaker? 

My all-time favourite will always be the Jordan 4 Cements as they were my first pair of Jordans but this is joint with the Shadow 1’s that I copped back in 2017. They were my first big purchase I made after starting Jehucal and I had wanted them for years. They’re beat up as fuck now but I still keep them in my office as a reminder.

KG: Let’s jump straight into it with a two-part question. You present the story of your brand and its name on your website. Why do you think it’s so important for people to know about the brands they wear? What inspired this thought process? 

Because you look stupid if you’re wearing a brand made by someone who if they saw you in the street they’d spit on you if they could. I’m pretty sure Von Dutch was a Nazi but everyone wearing his shit because ooo Y2k lmaoooo. 

I tell my story because Jehucal is more than just clothes and bags to me, it's a journey and a mission that I am still on. I want everyone that wears it to know the mission, believe in the mission and be a part of it. In addition to this, social media has taken away storytelling somewhat. Social media is a highlight reel, people don’t see the 10 years of grafting before the one year of crazy success. 

The 10 years of grafting are what will inspire the younger generation.

KG: Tell us about how your brand came out.


KG: You started JEHUCAL in your uni bedroom in 2016, what has allowed you to maintain the drive you clearly obtain to make it flourish as it has today? 

Clothes were my first love. Since I was in high school I’d spend all day staring at clothes I couldn’t afford to buy and just appreciate them through my laptop screen and phone. So, even when times are tough I never want to give up on my love and when times are going great, I love it even more. 

On top of that, I’ve also seen how Jehucal has allowed me to bring up the people around me. My sister wanted to try modelling and be in magazines. We went to the Balearic Islands for a holiday, shot a lookbook, she modelled it and I took the photos, ended up getting her into i-D, Highsnobiety, Complex and on display at a Nike Exhibition. Seeing the joy it brings my parents when their mates are gassing them up about how cool Jehucal is is also great. I’m driven by a lot of things, family and friends first and then also wanting to make sure I make an imprint so strong it inspires younger black kids. That is why I go back to my old university so much to give lectures and talks. I’m actually doing one on Wednesday.

KG: How would you describe the style of JEHUCAL? 

The lovechild of luxury and streetwear and an extension of my interests.

KG: What goes into your thought process when creating new designs? 

It’s a variety of things and the process is never the same. For example, when I designed the Jehucal Liquid Deflectors (umbrellas) the process of thought behind this was functionality and fulfilling a need because I did not own an umbrella. On the other hand, the process can be me simply wanting a new style of clothing in my wardrobe, or a new colourway to match some trainers I just bought. I get inspired by anything and everything, the other day I was chasing down a truck in Hackney because I liked the graphic on the side of it and wanted to get a pic of it for inspiration. You might see it on a tee soon.

KG: The first garment you produced was a t-shirt. Nowadays, we see several new brands launching almost daily that follow a similar train of thought. What advice would you give to new designers who are looking to break into the industry?

Make sure you have a genuine unique selling point. During the lockdown, people were championing black-owned businesses, which was great. However, it led to a lot of people rushing to start businesses with no thoughts other than seeing it as a quick way to make money, almost like crypto.

You had all these black brands starting up with no USP other than being black-owned and expecting people to support them straight away. So many businesses that started during covid are dead now. 

If 10 black-owned businesses open up today with the same graphic tee and no USP other than being black-owned, how am I meant to decide who to invest in?

KG: Would you say that starting your own brand has aligned your focus and allowed you to strive?

I knew what I wanted since I was 15, I don’t think many people can say that. However, knowing what you want and actually making the moves to do it are two completely different things. 

Starting a brand is easy, the barriers to entry are almost non-existent. You don’t even need to have a physical product. You can design a tee, put it on Insta and do pre-orders. The hard part is scaling up. That is what made me align my focus, I had to stop doing a lot of time-wasting shit. There are so many temptations at uni from FIFA till 4 am in a hazy room to linking girls. I had to cut all that shit out and spend nights solo in my uni room designing and plotting.

KG: The strapline of our campaign is ‘Celebrating Black Design’. We wanted to highlight you because we love the originality and execution of your work. Are there any designers you’d like to shine a spotlight on?


KG: What can brands, organisations, and individuals in the industry do to support emerging designers?

Pay them.

KG: In July, you hosted a screenprinting workshop by way of giving back to the community who’ve supported you since day 1. How important is community, in relation to your brand and on a wider scale, for you?

A child is raised by a community and I believe it is the same for a clothing brand and any business venture. Community is everything for me and Jehucal. Jehucal in itself is a community and we represent this through wearing the clothes and believing in the ethos of Jehucal.

Community makes Jehucal a living thing, people have made friends through Jehucal and I’ve even seen guys/girls secure boyfriends/girlfriends using Jehucal as an ice breaker on dating apps. I get sent a few every year.

On a wider scale it's great because the community breeds opportunities to work together with people, I work with friends and friends of friends all the time.

KG: What challenges have you faced in the industry? How have you overcome these?

Challenge: Small talk at events.

Solution: Wearing sunglasses.

KG: You mention that when drawing initial inspiration for your brand, you looked at both streetwear brands such as Supreme as well as designer brands like Rick Owens. Where do you see JEHUCAL sitting currently, and in the future? 

The lovechild of streetwear and luxury. Jehucal is an extension of my taste. When I started I was very heavy into streetwear, my taste developed and I got into luxury more and Jehucal has followed suit. If I’m copping £600 Pradas I need a fire leather / faux leather bag and corduroy pants to match.

KG: What has been your greatest achievement to date? 

Being able to use Jehucal to support and platform my family and friends. I got my sister on the payroll, I’m able to utilise my brand to help my friends get put into publications and push their careers forward. For me, as long as my money straight and my people are good, that’s all that matters.

KG: What advice would you give to new designers who are looking to break into the industry? 

During Covid there was a huge emphasis on supporting black entrepreneurs, rightfully so however I felt that this encouraged / almost pressured a lot of people into rushing into starting a business in order to catch the wave. This is fine, but the issue is that in a lot of these businesses, the only USP was being black-owned. Not their designs, marketing, or anything. This meant that there were a bunch of people making things and just expecting it to sell because they were black-owned. I saw so many tweets like “ Black-owned ____ retweet and support” and it would be the most whack T-shirt ever with no thought process behind it.

If you want to be a designer, have a vision, know what your USP is and what you’re bringing to the table and don’t base your whole brand on just being black-owned. There are a ton of black designers out there who are crazy talented. 

KG: A detail in your work is a signature smiley face, can you tell us more about that?

Back in the hazy FIFA room days sketching in my notepad between FIFA matches. I remember when Jehucal first started it was a lil bit grunge/edgy in some aspects. I had a hoodie called “TEENAGE TEMPTATIONS” and I was just on a wave of being edgy so that smiley face was a product of that era. I was also struggling to figure out a logo for Jehucal and I decided to make that the logo, I’ve even trademarked it.

KG: I saw you curated one of your lookbooks in Lagos, Nigeria. Tell us more about that.

That was on some freestyling shit. I went to Nigeria for my grandma's birthday and was like damn whilst I’m here we gotta do some Jehucal stuff because we also just hit 17k on Instagram.

So we got some tees printed, shot them out in Nigeria and then dropped them all online for £17 to celebrate hitting 17k on Instagram. Was super fun and then after that, I gave out some free tees in Lagos.

KG: How do you feel that you have been able to translate yourself into your work?

Completely. Jehucal is just an extension of me. All the crazy and fun ideas I have I’m now able to use to design, produce and sell. That is why sometimes it feels kind of crazy because I sit back like wow, I’ve built a whole company off just the ideas I have when I’m sat on the toilet doing my daily thoughts.

KG: What does the future hold for JEHUCAL? 


KG: We’re incredibly excited to have you in for a pop-up in our Covent Garden store. Can you tell us a little about what we can expect?