IN CONVERSATION WITH ADE HASSAN MBE
Ade Hassan wanted to change the way we all see nude and she did. Back in 2014, she posted the first product photo on Instagram, the photo went viral and things have blossomed form there. To further commemorate her contribution, Ade received an MBE from Prince William in 2017 and has continued to shake the fashion industry.
I am a massive fan and supporter of what you’ve created with Nubian Skin. You gave women all around the world, the opportunity to be seen and catered to. Where did the inspiration come from?
That’s so lovely, thank you! Nubian Skin was essentially born out of my own frustration. I couldn’t find what I was looking for in shops, so I decided to create it. I knew I couldn’t be the only one who felt this way!
You had a lucrative career in finance before launching Nubian Skin. When did you decide it was the right time to quit and focus on the business?
I was working in private equity fund raising when Nubian Skin launched. It was a tough balancing act! The work I was doing is client-focused, so the hours are demanding, but when you’re incredibly excited about something, waking up early and going to bed late doesn’t seem like such a chore. I was exhausted, but also incredibly motivated. I had a super supportive team at work, so I was fortunate enough to be able to put in place a transition as I moved full time into Nubian Skin three months after we launched.
Who is Ade Hassan?
Ade Hassan is a woman who is living her dream.
Keeping an eye on the numbers in any business is important. How do you ensure that you’re always up to date?
A large list of tasks can be daunting, so I always break my day up into 30-minute increments. Some tasks just require forward planning, so using my diary is always helpful. After some teething problems with a couple of different accountants, I’ve found some amazing ones, and that makes all the difference. We use Xero to do all our book keeping.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far as an entrepreneur?
The top three are probably - I can handle a lot more stress than I thought, it is incredibly important to have a great support base & you have to be grateful.
With all the success stories around entrepreneurship and how innovative people have to be to take the leap. How do you think you’ve innovated your sector and why?
In the lingerie industry, the scope for innovation is a bit limited, and Nubian Skin managed to do something that had an impact beyond itself. I think redefining ‘nude’ and making the term more inclusive was a really big thing because nobody had done it before. For women of colour and the lingerie industry, this conversation was long overdue – so it led to our campaign going viral and other parts of the industry realising the need to be more inclusive.
What are your thoughts on failure?
I feel like the word ‘failure’ carries a lot of weight. There are new challenges every day, and you won’t always get everything right – but a few mistakes here and there help you learn and grow. I’ve made countless.
Do you have a morning routine or ritual to get your day started on the right foot?
I typically get up around 6.30am or 7:00am, pray, work out or stretch, followed by breakfast – I don’t do well without breakfast – and then I get ready for the day ahead and look at my diary to see what I’ve got on for the day.
Are there any plans to introduce new products to your range?
Yes, we have lots of new exciting ideas in the pipeline, which I’m really excited about. Watch this space!
If you could be in a room with 4 entrepreneurs, who would they be and why?
There are so many amazing ones to choose from! But it would probably have to be Oprah, the late Eunice Johnson who created Fashion Fair Cosmetics, Sarah Blakely who created Spanx, and then my mother – she’s an incredible business woman and has always been an inspiration to me. Plus she’d know all the best questions to ask the other three!
What are your top tips for entrepreneurs wanting to get their products stocked in retailers?
You should attend trade shows – that’s where we’ve met a most of our buyers and stockists. If you’re not going to trade shows then it’s just knowing who you need to get your products in front of and approaching them. It can be a long process so you have to be patient!
You’ve crossed over into international waters. How is that experience going so far?
It’s been great! The US is a great market for us, and they’ve been incredibly supportive since we launched. Our Nigerian market is also brilliant, we’re stocked in some lovely boutiques there.
Do you think Brexit will have an adverse effect on your business or do you see it as an opportunity?
We currently source all our fabric and do all our production in the EU, so we are very much interested what happens around the customs union as it will have a significant impact on our supply chain. At the end of the day all change has the potential to have an opportunity, it’s just about seeking it out.
What plans do you have for Nubian Skin over the next two years?
We have a few new lines we’re working on and looking forward to launching. Other than that, we’ll be focussing on our marketing and growing as much as possible!