This month we talk to the incredible Ade Hassan, the heart and soul of Nubian Skin, a company that sells wonderfully inclusive nude coloured underwear and lingerie for darker skin tones – just in time for Valentines, no less!
Tell us about yourself?
I’m Ade Hassan and I’m the founder of Nubian Skin. I was born in the UK, though my family is from Nigeria. We moved about quite a bit when I was younger, so I grew up in the UK, Nigeria and the US. My work background is pretty corporate, before starting Nubian Skin I worked mainly in investment banking focusing on private equity and fundraising.
What inspired you to start it?
For years, I have wanted to be able to walk into a department store and find tights in my colour or a nude bra to wear under a shirt, so the idea was really born out of my own frustration. I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur, particularly to start a fashion business, but I didn’t want to do clothes. One day, the idea popped into my head. I figured after years of frustration, if no one else was producing what I wanted, perhaps it was time for me to do it!
Is the underwear (or fashion in general) industry inclusive enough for women of colour?
The industry is definitely changing, but there is still a long way to go! It’s not yet possible to walk into any department store and find lingerie/hosiery/undergarments in your own nude, so the underwear industry really isn’t inclusive enough at the moment. We’ve noticed some brands starting to add a ‘mocha’ to their collection to follow the trend, and it’s great for the consumer to have more choice, we just hope they continue to offer it, and that it’s not just a trend for a season!
In what way is your business unique?
Nubian Skin is unique as it markets specifically to women of colour. We offered women of colour something completely new, and one of the reasons our image went viral when we launched was because people had never really seen a lingerie advert image with only women of colour!
Your personal style icons?
My mother! I remember being little and thinking everything about my mother was glamorous, especially how she dressed! In Nigeria, fashion is such big thing, and it’s not even necessarily linked to how much money you have because so many women get their traditional outfits custom made, so a lot of it is down to creativity. Whenever I’d be home in Nigeria, I’d draw sketches of outfits I wanted the tailor to make, it’s so easy to do that there, so in a way I suppose there was always that idea that if I wanted something that I couldn’t find, it could be made.
How can graduates or young people in general, navigate from school and into the world of business ownership?
I would recommend working as hard as you can, seeking new opportunities, nurture relationships as people can help you to grow, and have a side-hustle – something you’re really passionate about! And if you have an idea… it’s really important to research it 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?
Click here if you want to find out more about Ade Hassan or shop at Nubian Skin.