Josefina Bonsundy-Nvumba   31 December 2018

Ade Hassan Nubian Skin

This story has been brought to you by us, WorldRemit, in partnership with Rootencial. Rootencial is a social initiative celebrating the roots and potential of African and African diaspora communities, while also aiming to create opportunities for them.

 Our story is of Ade Hassan – the perfect example of someone who’s really fulfilled her potential by creating a business based on her skin colour.

 Ade always knew she wanted to become an entrepreneur. But it wasn’t until 2014 that she decided to make a remarkable career change and quit her finance job to follow her dream.

 For years, she couldn’t find the right match in tights and underwear for her skin tone. Her frustration at the lack of diversity and colour representation for darker skin tones in women’s lingerie and hosiery led her to decide it was time to promote ‘a different kind of nude’.

It was a transformative moment, encouraging Ade Hassan to launch Nubian Skin in 2014, using the strapline - ‘Empowering Women. Embracing our Colour’. She’s been so successful with her business and gained worldwide attention. Her garments have even dressed renowned celebrities such as Beyonce and her dance crew during her 2016 World Tour.

Josefina Bonsundy-Nvumba, Founder of Rootencial, interviewed Ade Hassan about how it all started, her background and the lessons she’s learned along the way.

“A

Please tell us about who you are and what do you do.

I’m Ade Hassan and am the founder of Nubian Skin. I was born in the UK, though my family come from Nigeria. My family and I moved around quite a bit when I was younger, and I grew up in the UK, Nigeria as well as the United States.

My work experience is pretty corporate. Before starting Nubian Skin, I worked mainly in investment banking, focussing on private equity and fundraising.

What inspired you to create Nubian Skin?

Nubian Skin was essentially born out of my own frustration of not being able to find what I wanted in the shops. For years I wanted to be able to walk into a department store and find nude tights, bras or camisoles in my skin tone. When I couldn’t find that, I thought I should try to create it!

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How does your personal background add value to your brand? Why? 

I created this brand based on my experience, so I know what my customers feel.  They also know that my brand was born out of a place of authenticity.

Can you tell us a bit about your strapline, “Empowering women embracing our colour” and what it means to you?

At Nubian Skin, we want women to embrace their colour. No matter what shade their skin, it’s beautiful, and that’s a very empowering concept.

My inspiration came from my frustration of not being able to find what I wanted in the shops. When I created Nubian Skin, I wanted women to feel special and sexy in something that was specifically tailored for them. That’s exactly what “Empowering Women. Embracing our Colour” encapsulates.

Representation is important. We should care about it because women of colour are often under-represented. It’s an incredibly empowering thing to open a magazine and see someone you can relate to.

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Could you tell us about three of the greatest challenges that you’ve had to face in your personal or professional life?

Well, I am not sure these are the greatest, but they’re certainly three big ones. One - starting a business in an industry I had no experience in. Two - transitioning from starting to running a business. And three - the constant failures you experience as an entrepreneur.

How did you overcome those challenges?

I had to do three main things. Initially, I found an industry expert who acted as my consultant, so I had advice on where to start.  Also, I took it one step at the time and learnt as I went along. I’m still working on this, but I’ve adopted the attitude that if nobody has died then it can’t really be that bad.

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What lessons have you learned in launching your own business? And what are you most proud of in your professional life?

The top three lessons are probably: one - that I can handle a lot more stress than I thought. Two - it’s incredibly important to have a great support base. And three - to remember to always be grateful.

As far as my professional life is concerned - I’d say that I’m proud to have built a brand that’s been so impactful. 

What’s your personal mission and vision?

My personal mission is to find pleasure in what I do and to find happiness in everyday things. I think this is very important.

'My mission is to find pleasure in what I do and find happiness in everyday things'

What advice would you give to the 18-year-old version of yourself?

You’re doing great, though perhaps spend a bit more time studying!

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