Meet The SHEeo: Chioma & Uchenna Ngwudo Of Cee Cee's Closet NYC

These ladies are serving us Queen tings for days. Here's how they do it.

Meet The SHEeo

With the rise of more and more black women breaking away from traditional 9-5s to become their own bosses, the CEO is getting a revamp as the SHEeo. In the Meet The SHEeo series, we talk to melanated mavens leveling up and glowing up, all while redefining what it means to be a boss.

During a trip to Nigeria, Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo were inspired by the beautiful, handmade garments and accessories in the marketplaces and brought a piece of Africa back home to the states. Seeing that there was a demand for the authentic pieces, the sisters launched Cee Cee's Closet NYC — a go-to destination for fashionable women who love to add meaningful color to their looks with a pop of West African prints. Despite some challenges along the way, the brand continues to grow in popularity and expand its reach through digital marketing and social media, while having a positive economic impact on Nigeria.

Meet Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo.

Courtesy of Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo

Title: CEOs of Cee Cee's Closet

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Year Founded: 2015

# of Employees: 7

30-Second Pitch: Cee Cee's Closet NYC is the go-to destination for fashionable women who love to add meaningful color to their looks with a pop of print. Our brand is both a celebration of black women and an economic engine for opportunity in Nigeria.

What inspired you to start your brand? 

I always wanted to build a business but I didn't know what kind of business I wanted to build for quite some time. The idea for Cee Cee's Closet came to me during a trip to Nigeria four years ago. At that point, I hadn't been to Nigeria for almost 10 years and everything felt new and distant. I realized that even though I knew better, I still harbored a lot of the negative views of Africa often propagated in Western media. That trip reopened my eyes to the beauty of Nigeria and I wanted a vehicle to share that beauty with others. When I found these gorgeous handmade clutches in a market, I was immediately struck by the craftsmanship. They were the perfect gift for myself and my sister and just the accessory I needed to spice up my graduation party look. At the party, they were a hit. My friends kept asking me where they could get a bag like mine and the idea for Cee Cee's Closet NYC was born.

"Even though I knew better, I still harbored a lot of the negative views of Africa often propagated in Western media. That trip reopened my eyes to the beauty of Nigeria and I wanted a vehicle to share that beauty with others."

What was your a-ha moment that brought your idea into reality? 

The a-ha moment that transformed Cee Cee's Closet from an idea to reality was when my friends were willing to pay me money for gorgeous pieces I brought back from Nigeria. I didn't have to push it on them, they actively asked me about them. When I made back my $500 investment in a couple of days, then I knew that Cee Cee's Closet could be a business.

Who is your ideal customer?

Our ideal customer is a fashionable 20-40 something who loves adding statement pieces to their wardrobe.

What makes your business different? 

This is a question we have to ask ourselves time and time again to ensure that we're creating products and imagery that is relevant to our customer base. Our approach to African prints is creating pieces that are attention-grabbing but fit seamlessly into your closet. We decided to expand into clothing because the market seemed to be divided between expensive extravagant dresses and cheap Chinese-made ready-to-wear pieces. We wanted to give the fashionable woman an alternative that was well-priced and perfect for everyday wear and special occasions.

"We wanted to give the fashionable woman an alternative that was well-priced and perfect for everyday wear and special occasions."

What obstacles did you have to overcome while launching and growing your brand? How were you able to overcome them? 

When we first launched our website, I was definitely naive and thought that we would get sales right away. It's hard to get any sales when you have 10 visitors a day (5 of those visits being our mom). So we had to learn how to create content and collaborations that led to traffic and sales while also building consumer trust. One of the key ways we did that was through doing pop-ups around New York City. The pop-ups allowed us to show that we were a real online store (and not a scam), have customers engage with the products and share that engagement with our audience, get our very much-needed first sales, build our mailing list, and generate traffic to our site that led to follow-on sales.

What was the defining moment in your entrepreneurial journey? 

I don't think I've had a defining moment in my entrepreneurial journey yet. I'm still learning and growing on a daily basis and I wouldn't consider myself fully formed as an entrepreneur yet.

Where do you see your company in 5-10 years? (The ultimate goal?)

In 5-10 years, I see Cee Cee's Closet NYC as a full closet. A place where you can get fashionable pieces to work into every aspect of your life, from the clothes you wear to the decorative pieces in your home.

Where have you seen the biggest return on investment? (i.e. marketing, ads, vending, social media)

I would say that all of those marketing tools are more of an ecosystem that works together rather than individual actors. We have customers that first encounter us on social media, but they don't purchase until they see us in person and vice versa. For us, our social media has been a big driver of brand awareness, but vending and ads, have played a crucial role in increasing our revenue and driving additional sales after customers encounter us on social media. Even with return customers, you have to constantly remind them about your brand, your story, and your value add.

"For us, our social media has been a big driver of brand awareness, but vending and ads, have played a crucial role in increasing our revenue and driving additional sales after customers encounter us on social media."

Do you have a mentor? If so, who? 

We haven't had any formal mentors but we're constantly learning from other entrepreneurs around us. We've been incredibly lucky to meet so many other amazing female entrepreneurs who have taken the time to share their experience with us and give much-needed guidance. In the very beginning, before we knew any other entrepreneurs, we learned numerous lessons from podcasts like Dreams In Drive and Side Hustle Pro and by using Google of course.

Biggest lesson you’ve learned in business? 

One of the biggest lessons I've learned is that the only way to fail is to give up. We've faced countless challenges while building our business (some a lot scarier than others), but our reaction to each one has been to pivot, try something new and ask plenty of questions. So far, it's worked out very well for us.

For more of Chioma, Ugenna, and Cee Cee's Closet, follow them on social @ceeceesclosetnyc.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

Because I write so much about sex, there are never a lack of random questions that pop into my mind. One that I was wondering semi-recently is if there's a particular time of the day when men and women are hornier than others. Chile, when you decide to go digging for information, you'll be amazed what you'll find.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Growing up, Eunique Jones Gibson didn't have to look far for positive imagery that reflected who she was and where she came from. At a young age, Eunique's parents wasted no time instilling the importance of self-love and embracing the richness of Black culture. From her father's afrocentric, Cross Colours-based style to seeing herself through the lens of Lena James, Jada Pinkett's confident persona on A Different World, Eunique's surroundings began to paint a colorful portrait of the world's true representation could form. She points out, "That was my entryway into really embracing the culture and understanding the power of who we are and being critical of false narratives." It's no wonder that her work in representation through entertainment and media no less found her.

Keep reading... Show less

This article is in partnership with Staples.

As a Black woman slaying in business, you're more than likely focused on the bottom line: Serving your customers and making sure the bag doesn't stop coming in. Well, there's obviously more to running a business than just making boss moves, but as the CEO or founder, you might not have the time, energy, or resources to fill in the blanks.

Keep reading... Show less

Karrueche Tran, I like her. She minds her business, she makes smart business moves. She has integrity, and most importantly, she loves herself enough to leave situations that no longer serve her. Tran popped on the scene roughly a decade ago as the girlfriend of Chris Brown. They had a whirlwind romance, filled with just as many highs as lows. Eventually, Karrueche ended the relationship after she found out Brown had a daughter on the way, and she moved on to pursue her passions within the entertainment industry.

Keep reading... Show less

It's no secret that the pandemic hit all of us hard, and now that restrictions have been lifted, offices have reopened, and work seems to be getting to a new normal outside of quarantines and isolation, we all want to take our lives back. If you only learned one lesson in the past year, it's to look out for No.1, i.e. yourself, and practice a bit more balance in self-care.

Research has shown that many of us were overworked and pretty much burned out, and we missed out on vacations last year, too. The average work day extended at least an hour, and millions of vacation days wasted away.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

'Insecure' Writer Mike Gauyo Talks His Journey From Med School To The Writers' Room

"Meeting Issa Rae was a story of perseverance, following up, being persistent and all of the characteristics and attributes you need to be a successful writer."

Latest Posts