“I think it’s really important to believe in your idea. Be 100% behind it because you’re going to be putting your heart and soul into it.”
Name: Ade Hassan
Location: United Kingdom
Notable Achievements: Partnered with Beyonce for ‘Formation’ Tour, Winner of Great British Entrepreneur Awards.
Prior to Nubian Skin, Ade Hassan worked as a Management consultant after taking a break from Finance. Despite the career move, Ade was not satisfied in her role. After conceiving the idea of Nubian Skin having initially graduated with a BSc degree in Economics and English, Ade ventured back into the world of Finance in order to raise the capital she needed to kick-start her business.
A dream come true
Ade explained the eureka moment she decided to take the plunge. “I had the idea in 2012 – during the Olympics. I was in New York for the summer and was staying with a friend of mine. I chose to tell her about the idea as she has a MBA and I needed help in writing a business plan.
“We talked about the idea a lot and I was determined to go ahead with it when I got back to England at the end of the year. However, I became increasingly busy, so I felt that the timing wasn’t right, as work was a massive priority at the time.
‘Then in 2013 after my birthday passed, my friend sent me a card that said: ‘It’s time to start living the life you’ve always imagined.’
“Inside she wrote: ‘I really believe in your idea, I know you’re going to make this happen. I hope to see you doing big things and I want to say I was there at the beginning.’
“I thought: ‘you know what? It is now or never.’ It was the catalyst. If I think about the whole concept of me living the life I’ve always imagined then Nubian Skin is part of that life. That’s the life I’ve always imagined… So I decided: right. I’m doing it.”
Speaking to Black Ballard, Ade mentions how the idea was borne out of frustration.
“When wearing clothes, especially in a professional environment, a large proportion of women’s tops are sheer. When you are in that context you want to be taken seriously and not worrying if someone can see your black bra strap,” explains Nubian Skin founder Ade Hassan.
“That was something that really annoyed me; that I could not find a nude colour or that I could only find the odd brown bra, but it wasn’t exactly my shade or close to being my shade.
“So, Nubian Skin was really born out of my own frustration of what I thought was a big need.”
The journey of launching Nubian Skin as a startup into its growth phase was not an easy feat. In an interview with Black Wall Street Official, Ade described hurdles she had experienced in getting Nubian Skin set up and ready:
“Once I actually started working on Nubian Skin, it took about 2 and 1/2 years to get it up and running. Finding a manufacturer was difficult. I started sending emails out and nobody was interested. When you say that you’re a new brand with a small collection, those are just terrible words to send to any manufacturer. So, that was really frustrating. The industry is very close-knit so actually gaining access and knowing who to speak to was really difficult. I found a consultant who told me that I needed to go to trade shows and meet manufacturers there. That was great advice because it opened the door for what I wanted to do.”
Attributing her success in dealing with initial challenges faced by Nubian Skin, Ade credits her family for their support, as well as her faith in keeping her grounded.
Journey so far
Having initially started off solely as a lingerie business for women of colour, Nubian Skin has since expanded into the hosiery market. As her business continued to grow, Ade ultimately hoped to persuade large retailers and department stores to stock her merchandise. At a time where social media has become such a powerful tool in creating awareness, talk of Nubian Skin went viral.
“I put up some pictures of the photoshoot and I went on holiday. Throughout my holiday, my phone kept buzzing and I thought, ‘That’s really annoying. What’s going on?’ I looked at Instagram and I was at 100 followers,” Hassan said. “At the time I said, ‘Wow! A 100 people. This is amazing!” A few days later, we had a 1,000 followers and I was just kind of like, ‘Okay this is really strange – what’s going on?’ When I got home, I had 20,000 followers.”
Post 2016 and after attending lots of trade shows, Ade has already achieved her goal in expanding Nubian Skin into the American market. With huge department stores including the likes of Nordstrom (U.S), Asos, House of Fraser and John Lewis (U.K) coming on board, Merchandise from Nubian skin can be purchased worldwide with just one click.
Having being selected by Beyonce to provide Lingerie throughout her formation World tour, Ade isn’t doing too badly!
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“Always be true to whatever your ethos is because there will be a lot of people who will say things like “oh you should do it this way/that way instead”. Take feedback but don’t lose your own goals and what’s important to you.