Lingerie Made For Us | @NubianSkin
By: Courtney Grayton
I remember when “nude” tone for women of color was first redefined. So many women on my social media timelines were so excited to see underwear that matched their skin tones! Black and brown women would now be empowered to embrace their beautiful skin tones without thinking that they were “too dark”. What an empowering move to make!
Meet the woman responsible for this shift: Ade, owner of Nubian Skin, a nude hoisery and lingerie line for women of color. She gives exclusive insight of her journey to the 20somethins!
What does having a black-owned business mean to you?
I think it’s important and empowering to have businesses that target black people to be owned by black people. It’s something that we don’t see enough of in the black community, and it makes a real difference. That being said, I also understand the need for companies to grow and take investment – and you may not always have control of what happens after that. We haven’t done that yet, but I believe it is so, so important when that does happen, that businesses do not lose their ethos.
What were some challenging moments in starting your own business?
What kept you motivated and moving towards success? The biggest initial challenge was finding a good quality manufacturer, a lot of the time they don’t want to work with smaller businesses and they have high minimums. I think for every brand starting off with a product, that can be one of the biggest challenges. The most important challenge at the beginning was coming up with the colours – factories didn’t have stock skin-tone colours, so this was something I had to come up with myself. I spent about a year researching and dying fabrics and ultimately dyeing a lot of hosiery with tea and coffee until I was happy with the hues! I was incredibly excited about Nubian Skin, I would even wake up in the middle of the night coming up with new ideas for colour names etc, I was incredibly excited about the idea, so I guess that’s what motivated me.
Congratulations on your MBE for your services to fashion! Being awarded on the Queen’s birthday by Prince Harry is a huge accomplishment. Now with international recognition, how else are you using your platform to help with the lack of diversity in fashion?
Thank you, it was such an honour to meet Prince William! We’re working on being more inclusive with our sizes, so we’ll be launching our fuller bust range very soon!
Handling 9 countries and an international online market, how do you manage your work life balance?
It can be difficult to find a balance, but I’m getting better at it. This year, I’m trying to focus on really enjoying all parts of the journey, so if I’m travelling for work, making sure to seek out some time for myself and do something enjoyable. I was speaking to a couple of fellow entrepreneur friends the other week about how taking time for yourself takes discipline. So, I make sure I’m spending quality time with loved ones and taking care of my health by exercising.
Who was your inspiration or role model in your 20 somethin's? Are they still your role model today?
My mother, she’s an incredible business woman! And women like Eunice Johnson and Iman, who took the steps to create make up since they couldn't find what they needed. From more of a business perspective, Sarah Blakely who created Spanx...she just killed it and changed the market.
You were a 20 somethin’ (29 to be exact) when you decided to follow your dreams and registered Nubian Skin. What advice do you have for other 20 somethin’s stuck in a demanding job but sitting on an idea or product that could elevate the lives of other minority women?
Firstly, it’s really important to research your idea to make sure that whatever it is, it’s valid. Make sure you really believe in the idea especially if you’re working in another job. If you’re up at 4:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m. working on this, then you want to believe in it. You also need to be willing to work really hard. Everybody who is going to start something anticipates that it’s going to be difficult, and that it’s going to be hard, but it will be so much more difficult and so much harder than you can prepare yourself for. And also – have faith in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, then who will?
Did your vision of Nubian Skin change over time or are you still working towards your ultimate goal?
My vision has always been empowering women and embracing our colour, so I am always working towards representing that in some way.
Who or what inspired you to go with the name “Nubian Skin” for your line?
I wanted something which really spoke to the history and significance of dark skin, so I chose Nubian. I had originally thought of Nubian Nude, but that can be very tricky when it comes to internet searches, ‘Skin’ just worked.
How do you stay competitive with other high-end brands, like Louboutin who launched their own nude shoe collection?
Our offering is very different from Louboutin, so we don’t have to stay competitive with them, however, we have seen a lot of other brands popping up with a similar concept to ours so we just have to keep innovating and staying one step ahead.
We love how diverse your models are and in one word can you tell us why inclusivity is important to Nubian Skin?
Many of our 20 somethin's are into fashion and blogging and would love to join your team. Are you hiring? Are there potential internship opportunities with Nubian Skin? If not, what is some key tips in gaining experience in this industry?
We don’t have anything available at the moment, but definitely stay tuned on our social media page in case something does come up! The top tip would be to get as much experience in as many areas as possible to find out what it is you’d really like to do.
Do you have any quotes or motto’s you live by? If so, how has this helped you in your career?
I love the quote, “It’s time to start living the life you’ve always imagined”. It was instrumental to me when I received a birthday card with that message across the front the day I registered Nubian Skin as a company. Now, I think I’m trying to live by – work hard to create the live you’ve always imagined, because it doesn’t happen overnight.