Ade: I think in the industry there’s a long way to go. Traditionally if you go into a shop and you ask for something nude it will still be a certain type of nude. Even though we’re a small company, the campaign and the company has had an outsized impact on the industry because after we launched, about 6-12 months after, people starting doing different shades of nudes. They were adding mocha or maybe caramel to their collections or other companies were sprouting up, getting on that nude bandwagon. So, I definitely think we’ve had a huge impact on what ‘nude’ is seen as but I think there’s still a long way to go.
Shakaila: In numerous cultures, colourism can differentially effect a woman’s experience in education, jobs and in marriage markets, what do you think are some of the societal and psychological advantages of inclusive brands like Nubian Skin?
Ade: Well, I think it shows that no matter what colour you are its good to accept your colour as opposed to trying to fit into one mould. We know that colourism is alive and has a huge negative impact on people and that’s not just among black women, that’s Asian women – there are so many different cultures where that effects women and I think saying ‘actually, you’re perfect the way you are, you should embrace that and people should cater to your colour no matter what it is’ is a really powerful thing.
…if somebody looks up and they see somebody who looks like them, or their mother on a billboard that’s a huge thing psychologically.”
Shakaila: Have you had any personal experience with colourism?
Ade: Probably the one that comes to mind is when I was in high school in America and I remember there was a girl in my class and she, for whatever reason, always wanted to be like ‘oh you’re dark’. I was like well, I am what I am – it didn’t really bother me. I remember once there was a family picture and my friends were looking at it and she was like ‘oh you and your mum are the lightest in your family. But she said it in a way that was negative because she was always saying ‘you’re dark’. It was really bizarre and insidious. She was trying to be like ‘you’re this, you’re still dark overall’ and I was just like – you’re very strange. I had been raised not to think that way.
For me, it was really interesting to see someone try to make me feel bad because of the tone of my skin. She didn’t succeed but at the time I must have been around 15, 16 and understanding that for some people that is something that they use as a psychological weapon was a bit of an eye-opener.”I remember in a trade show last year they were talking about trends and one of the trends wereDifferent Skin Tones.
I remember thinking that’s not a trend we don’t turn brown for the season and then turn back.
I remember in a trade show last year they were talking about trends and one of the trends were Different Skin Tones. I remember thinking that’s not a trend we don’t turn brown for the season and then turn back. Sometimes in fashion people are like ‘oh what’s hot right now and they think brilliant, let’s bring a bunch of black models in’ or maybe they’re like ‘oh its really cool to do an East Asian theme’. Fashion generally is very trend driven and people don’t quite grasp the difference between trend and something that’s just who people are.
Shakaila: What are some of the most challenging things about being a Black female entrepreneur?
Shakaila: Describe the journey from hosiery and lingerie to Nubian Skins first footwear line.
Shakaila: What tips would give to people entering the fashion industry without a stereotypical fashion background?
I didn’t have a fashion background so a lot of it was doing research on how the industry works.
There will be so much you don’t know and you don’t want to be flying blind and reinventing the wheel if there’s someone who has the expertise who can help you
I think if you have faith that it’s a good idea and you know that it’s something that’s unique and will sell then take the leap.
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