The internet has been abuzz recently about an emerging brand called, Nubian Skin! This London based company seeks to challenge and redefine the notion of “nude” for women’s lingerie and hosiery, offering a high quality variety of options for women of color. The idea evolved out of the company founder’s personal need, and the fact that the majority of “nude” lingerie options are light beige, and only applied to nude, white skin tones. The brand has been building up hype through the Nubian Skin blog site, which launched this past July. The company’s founder, Ade Hassan, has used the blog to provide fashion and beauty advice for women of color, as well as report on the progress of Nubian Skin, documenting the successes of photo shoots, and excitement after visiting China for product inspection of the lingerie. Though her idea is four years in the making, she received a final push in the spring of 2013, causing her to put her dream into motion. Her hard work has culminated in the recent release of the e-commerce site.
The line boasts exciting new color offerings for every shade of nude, from Berry to Café Au Lait. The first, and darkest shade is Berry, for which the company cites the beginning of the saying, “the darker the berry…” The fourth, and lightest shade is Café Au Lait, which is described as as “more parts cream than coffee”. Though the size range is beginning from 30B-36DD/E, the company is already looking to expand to plus sizes, pending the initial success of the line. Nubian Skin is receiving many positive responses to the idea, and Auloni Magazine was fortunate enough to get in contact with Ms. Hassan about her entrepreneurial endeavors.
AM: Would you please provide a bit of background about yourself?
NS: I was born in the UK and have lived in the UK, Nigeria (my parents are Nigerian) and the US. I attended Duke University in the US for undergrad studying English and Economics before completing my masters degree at SOAS in London. My career prior to Nubian Skin has been very finance focused, although I did take a 15 month break from work several years ago when I took sewing and pattern cutting classes. As you can imagine, being in the lingerie business has been a big change!
AM: How did you come up with the idea for Nubian Skin?
NS: Nubian Skin was essentially born out of frustration. I wanted a product that I couldn’t find in shops, so I decided to create it. I knew I couldn’t be the only one who felt the same way.
AM: How long has this idea been in the works?
NS: I came up with the idea almost four years ago, and we’re just about to launch, so it feels like a long time coming. After a lengthy period of thinking about the idea and figuring out the right time to start, I put the wheels in motion in May of last year. So, from the time I pressed play to now, it’s been a year and four months.
AM: How does your previous work experience inform the work you do for Nubian Skin?
NS: My previous work experience has been incredibly different from what I’m doing now, but there is a training and level of professionalism you gain from working in a corporate environment, which is very advantageous when you decide to start your own business.
AM: What types of feedback have you gotten, now that the commerce site is officially open for business?
NS: We have been truly overwhelmed by the support from different communities of colour and the mainstream media. It’s been wonderful to see how supportive so many women have been, and it’s amazing to get emails from women across the world just saying, “thank you”.
One of the major points of feedback we received is that we need more sizes, so we launched the more sizes campaign to get more information. http://www.moresizes.nubianskin.com
AM: What, if any, hardships did you face, while developing this company?
NS: The biggest hurdle to overcome at the start was finding a good quality manufacturer. As a new and small business, a lot of manufacturers simply didn’t respond to queries, and others were looking for incredibly high volumes, so it was tricky. Once you actually secure a manufacturer, it’s always a battle to manage expectations. When I first decided on a manufacturer in July 2013, I thought I’d be able to start selling in September 2013, one year later than I expected, we’re just launching!
AM: How have you been able to overcome those challenges?
NS: We stuck with it! I wasn’t an expert in the industry, so I knew it was important to work with people who really knew the it well. We found a great consultant, and we went to tradeshows and it was onwards from there really.
AM: Any advice for others interested in your line of work?
NS: Know your unique selling point, and if you don’t know something about the industry, work with someone who does. It’s important to do your research. Finally, make sure you are 100% committed, because entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart.
AM: What are your short term goals for the company? Long term goals?
NS: Well we’re really looking forward to the launch of our hosiery later this month! And, we’re also looking forward to expanding and size and product range. And in the near term we hope to develop strong partnerships with retailers, so that it’s easier for customers to access our product. I can’t wait for the day any woman of colour walks into a department store and can pick up a pair of Nubian Skin tights or bra.
AM: In what ways can our readers connect with you online or on social media?
NS: We’re active on Instagram and Twitter (@nubianskin) and we’re on Facebook as well. We’re re-launching our blog soon, so that will be great too, look out for it on the website!
Au’loni is so excited to have had the opportunity to work with an entrepreneur all the way from the UK! We cannot wait to see what is in store for Nubian Skin.