The New Class of Business Leaders: From FCTRY LAb's Omar Bailey to Shop Latinx's Brittany Chavez

By The Editors | March 21, 2023

This feature is in our March "Next Wave" Issue. Click here to subscribe.

Below, meet five rising industry leaders who are redefining entrepreneurship.


Omar Bailey in the Yeezy Lab in Cody, Wyo. PHOTO BY MEGAN JOLLEY
Omar Bailey in the Yeezy Lab in Cody, Wyo. PHOTO BY MEGAN JOLLEY

If there’s one word Omar Bailey can use to describe his journey up until this point in his career, it’s resiliency. The act of withstanding and pushing through the difficult moments is something the 39-year-old has done his whole life, and it also gave birth to his brainchild FCTRY LAb.

The South Florida native recently teamed up with former Wall Street and private equity executive Abhishek Som to launch FCTRY LAb—a brand-new footwear design space and studio based in Los Angeles. Th e project aims to evolve footwear production and give all designers, old and new, an opportunity to bring their ideas to life.

For Bailey, the lab allows him to empower creators, influencers, designers and more to create footwear brands. As he tells EDITION, the footwear design industry is a foreign territory with little information on breaking into the space.

Omar and team at FCTRY LAb’s construction site PHOTO BY CARLOS ACOSTA
Omar and team at FCTRY LAb’s construction site PHOTO BY CARLOS ACOSTA

“There’s been a lot of people who tried and a few others who’ve done it, but I think where a lot of people failed is that they didn’t have the right connections to pull it off and that’s because there’s barely information on it,” Bailey says. “When people start brands, it’s usually a liquor or cosmetic. The footwear space has been the Da Vinci code that hasn’t been cracked, and I think a lot of it has to do with understanding the nuances of the business from a supply chain perspective.”

Bailey’s understanding of the business came through 20 years of hard work going to the College for Creative Studies and traveling to places such as China, Brazil and India at the beginning of his career. He also put in time working with places and key figures such as Supreme, Timberland, New Balance, JAY-Z and Lady Gaga.

Two of his biggest achievements were becoming the head of the Adidas Yeezy Innovation Lab, which he says confirmed everything he’s done to get there was worth it. The other was having one of the largest investments of 2022 as a Black founder, with $6 million raised for FCTRY LAb. None of that could’ve happened without him staying true to his beliefs and essentially following the breadcrumbs.

“I didn’t know how to break in because there was no internet or Google telling you what to do, and when my parents wouldn’t buy me sneakers as a kid, I drew them on paper to feel like I had them, and I stayed on that path where I kept sketching,” he says.

“I followed the breadcrumbs, found a way in and started grinding it out, man. I’ve slept on couches, I’ve lived in my office, taken bird baths, and this is what it took to get to this point with FCTRY LAb. When people see my face and the lab, I want them to see what never giving up looks like. Your dreams can come true.”

The lab has already made waves with more to come, and all that is possible thanks to the innovative ideas that continuously flow through the space.


“It really is unbelievable how many people have ideas for footwear,” says Bailey. “It doesn’t matter who you are; everyone has some concept for a shoe. They just need a space to bring that idea out.”

As for the future of FCTRY LAb, early talks are happening to open more spaces across the globe and branch out to other industries outside of footwear. Right now, though, the business is all about what’s on your feet. – MARK ELIBERT



In 2021, Ify Onyenokwe-Orhiunu decided it was time to find a skincare solution for herself and the world around her.

Onyenokwe-Orhiunu understands that the varying sensitivity of our skin can leave many people feeling hopeless in finding a manageable skincare routine. Her own journey involved years of mixing and matching moisturizers and oils to make her own home blends. With that, frustration was always around the corner as formulas and fragrances constantly changed. With the desire for natural, unscented and effective skincare, Oyoma Beauty was born.

Oyoma Beauty products include whipped shea butter, sisal soap bag, shea  butter soap, bamboo toothbrush, bamboo cotton buds and body polish. PHOTO COURTESY OF OYOMA BEAUTY
Oyoma Beauty products include whipped shea butter, sisal soap bag, shea butter soap, bamboo toothbrush, bamboo cotton buds and body polish. PHOTO COURTESY OF OYOMA BEAUTY

“I want our audience to know that we choose effective ingredients that mean that they don’t have to go through so many steps to achieve the results that come through in the ingredients we use,” she says.

Oyoma Beauty is a holistic bodycare brand that prioritizes the relationship between self, ethnocentric and “world-centric” wellness. Her own Nigerian roots inspired her study and use of shea butter, and her desire to create a formula that would allow the ingredient to thrive in the cold northern hemisphere.

“A lot of the beauty industry is built on complexity and opaqueness for the sake of profit. Oyoma itself means ‘I am well,’ and it’s a declaration of sorts whenever anyone says it—most names of Nigerian descent tend to be a statement of something,” says Onyenokwe-Orhiunu.

Initially launched in the U.K., Oyoma Beauty expanded to the U.S. at the end of 2022. Onyenokwe-Orhiunu’s growth is extremely inspired following the release of her new product (launching in a few weeks), which closes the signature range for the brand. Her intentions to build a greater in-store presence, and connect with her audience, aids her strategy to maintain ethical neutrality.

As a minimalist, all-natural, zero-waste brand, Onyenokwe- Orhiunu prioritizes her influence to educate her audience on the ingredients and infrastructures used to support her products. She continues to explore “clean beauty” through authentic means.

“We’re investigating ways to reduce our footprint from a production and operational perspective (for example, we use nontoxic dissolvable packaging filler and are seeking other easily degradable packaging) because it’s not enough just to have a product that uses nontoxic ingredients. All our ways of working need to align, and that’s a continual process.”

Nonprofit and global outreach have been a pillar of Oyoma Beauty since its inception, with sale donations to Charity: Water. This year, Onyenokwe-Orhiunu intends to work with other nonprofits focused on youth mental health, as well as an organization based in Ghana dedicated to the manufacturing of products that support farmers more directly. She is constantly reminded that holistic nourishment is a luxury, and it doesn’t have to be as complex as it’s packaged.

“There are so many products in the luxury skincare space. They come with their own benefits, and as a reformed skincare obsessive, there are so many amazing brands available. Oyoma is different because we value simplicity and giving back to oneself—that to me is true decadence and luxury.” –LEAH AULISIO-SHARPE



Courtney Couch is the founder of, a strategic and cultural branding agency, and the recently launched Special Purpose Vehicle Crown Luxe Ventures. She hopes to instill the importance of generational wealth while also continuing to shake up the entertainment industry as a brand strategist and business consultant.


Which projects have been the most fulfilling for you?

One of my favorites is an oldie but goodie that always comes to my mind—40z & Waffles, the brunch series I created with my two friends. When we first got to L.A. in 2013, there weren’t brunch parties to attend; this was something we weren’t used to coming from the East Coast. So we got together, utilized our networks and resources and launched our brunch series that evolved into a platform for brands to partner with us to launch products to our multicultural demographic of attendees.

Notable individuals like Justin Bieber and Kevin Durant attended our series. Even though the party was L.A.-based, it was like an anti- L.A. party because everyone came to dance, eat and have a good time as opposed to standing and looking around; it was a vibe and also it the initial testament to the power of your network, creating with your friends and doing whatever you wanted because you felt like it, and there was a need for it. In addition, I love working with artists and being relatable. When they want to touch the culture, I know exactly how to do that because I am the culture.

More Black women are dominating the entrepreneur space. How do you think that’s going to continue evolving this year?

Black women are going to continue to dominate the entrepreneur space because we are multifaceted, authentic and compassionate. Most importantly, we cheer for each other in real life. We share resources, we network together, and we aren’t afraid to brainstorm together—and there’s so much power in that. We are empathetic to each other’s journeys and struggles while being cheerleaders for one another at the same time. With that, we are going to continue to create more and be absolutely limitless.

I hope to see us find more reward in being relaxed and not pushing ourselves to the point of complete burnout. Though this is totally easier said than done, and this is something I wish for myself and my entrepreneur friends; there is no reward in being burned out. We need more selfcare, more downtime to nourish our minds, our bodies and our spirits so we can then turn around and create on a high level.

What are you looking forward to this year?

I’m super excited to work with my sister on launching our family foundation in loving memory of our brother who passed away. The Carnell Couch Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit providing relevant education and enrichment opportunities using a multidisciplinary approach to reach motivated, underrepresented and nontraditional learners. Some of our initiatives include outsourced ERG programming, pipeline enrichment, recruitment events and upskilling talent. This is another avenue where I can utilize my network for a great cause as this is a legacy initiative for my family. –BIANCA GRACIE


Brittany Chavez, founder of Shop Latinx BRITTANY CHAVEZ PHOTO BY ZOEY CHING
Brittany Chavez, founder of Shop Latinx BRITTANY CHAVEZ PHOTO BY ZOEY CHING

Since its inception in 2016, Brittany Chavez’s Shop Latinx has spotlighted brands founded by and for the Latinx community. Having secured over $1 million in VC funding, the platform has set its sights on expanding beyond just another marketplace.

The entrepreneur is a proud Brooklyn native. BRITTANY CHAVEZ PHOTOS BY ZOEY CHING
The entrepreneur is a proud Brooklyn native. BRITTANY CHAVEZ PHOTOS BY ZOEY CHING

How would you describe the purpose of Shop Latinx?

Success is the first word that comes to me. It’s very rare for Latinas to get venture capital funding, and I’m very lucky and blessed to be one of them. We’re targeting such a special community that’s been underrepresented with a B 2B (business-to-business) and B2C (businessto- consumer) business model that speaks to, for and about the Latinx community.

Most business owners don’t speak on community because they’re self-serving self-promoters. Where does that selflessness stem from?

That’s a tricky question because a lot of Latin women are taught to be selfless at our own expense, and that’s something I’m still navigating because, for so long, I was an afterthought to myself.

You touched on the Latinx community being underserved. Why is representation important to you?

We were presented as a monolith in the media, especially when I was growing up. I grew up in Los Angeles, so a lot of what I saw was Mexican-centric, which deserves to be represented, but the Latinx diaspora at large deserves to be as well.

There’s been an uptick in the use of the term ‘Latinx’ and, to be fair, some pushback. Can you explain what the word means?

The word isn’t meant to be divisive whatsoever; it’s actually the opposite. The ‘x’ within Latinx is a placeholder that can be used however you choose to identify. We’re speaking for everyone and want Latinos of all colors, genders, creeds, sexualities, etc., to be represented.

How do you plan on differentiating yourself from other online marketplaces in 2023?

We’re not just a marketplace because that gives the implication that we’re an open platform like Etsy or Amazon. We’re moving away from the word marketplace because we’re an e-retailer platform. We’re going to be diligently curated, and one of our most recent hires is Wanda Colon, who was the VP of merchandising at Barneys New York. I’m super excited about this because this ubertalented and experienced Puerto Rican woman is proud of the company’s growth and will help us expand.

What are some of the brands you have your eye on this year?

absolutely love what Selena Gomez is doing with Rare Beauty, and I love her advocacy for mental health and wellness. My friend Julissa Prado has been doing amazing things with Rizos Curls, and I would love to work with her because her products and story will resonate with the Latinx community. Ceremonia by Babba Rivera is a clean haircare brand rooted in Latinx heritage that I adore; the branding, story and ingredients are all incredible. I can name brands that I love for days, and it’s just a matter of alignment for us to work together. –ALAIN PATRON


Artist and entrepreneur Blakk Tatted BLAKK TATTED PHOTO BY BONNIE NICHOALDS
Artist and entrepreneur Blakk Tatted BLAKK TATTED PHOTO BY BONNIE NICHOALDS

Black Tatted is the definition of a success story. Last summer, as his Blakk Smoke hookah company gained immense popularity, he made over $1 million in nine hours. After officially launching in 2020, the New Orleans native now has his mind set on expanding Blakk Smoke with various lounges worldwide.

What was the inspiration behind launching your brand?

Blakk Smoke came about as a result of my lifestyle. I loved everything about hookah, especially the vibe. The only thing I didn’t like was the side effects I would get. I didn’t like feeling light-headed and catching headaches after smoking hookah, which was a result of the nicotine and tobacco, so I was looking for a tastier and healthier alternative but it just didn’t exist, so that led me to create my own no-nicotine and no-tobacco brand.


Can you discuss the importance of having smoking alternatives like this, especially with the rising health risks of vaping and smoking hookah?

Our products are no nicotine and no tobacco, so you won’t feel any of those side effects associated with nicotine and tobacco—I wanted a healthier yet tasty alternative. Also, our products do not contain any of the chemicals and unhealthy toxins typical vape pens are made with.

Your story is described as an ‘overnight success.’ How does your determination help drive your business?

I’ve always been determined to be successful and take care of my family and loved ones. This is what drives me daily to go hard! To be able to not only provide a lifestyle for myself and my children but for my siblings and mother as well.


How did your previous venture as an artist and social media influencer benefit your journey of becoming an entrepreneur?

As a social media influencer, I had the ability and skill set to capture audiences and assist business owners with driving sales for their businesses. I’ve always been funny and good with my marketing techniques, so I decided to use those skills to help push my own business since I’ve been so successful at helping others. –BIANCA GRACIE

Photography by: Ify Onyenokwe-Orhiunu photo by Laetita Dumez; Omar photo by Megan Jolley