Ade Hassan MBE of Nubian Skin ' Tips for starting a successful business'
Meet Ade Hassan MBE - Business owner of Nubian Skin
An interview and Tips on how to build your own business #OHGInsight
Please tell us a little about your back ground, where you grew up, what your family life was like and where you have lived
“I was born in the UK, but my family is Nigerian. I grew up all over the world, in the UK, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and the US. I’m pretty lucky to have the most incredible family, I feel like I won the lottery with them. My parents sacrificed so much for us to have a wonderful life and great education. I have a brother and sister and we had all the usual childhood sibling dramas, but we’re all close and get along really well.”
What has been your career history have you always been interested in owing your own business? What was the original dream?
“After I finished my masters I ended up in Banking, which was something I had been interested in doing, but ultimately, I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Both my parents are entrepreneurs, so I guess it’s in my blood. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but I’ve always had an affinity for fashion.”
What have been the biggest difficulties for you setting up a new business?
“The lingerie industry was so different from working in finance, and I really had no contacts or knowledge about how it worked. That was the first large hurdle was figuring out how I could create a company in an industry I knew nothing about.”
You saw a gap in the market for tonal underwear, how important was it for you to solve this problem for other women and why do you think it hasn’t been tackled properly before?
“I hate settling, and I felt that that was exactly what I had to do when it came to finding underwear in my skin-tone. I thought it was ridiculous that women of colour couldn’t find the same items as their white counterparts, so I figured why not change that – for myself and the countless other women who felt the same.
I think a big part of the reason it hadn’t been tackled before has to do with who is making decisions in the room. If you own a lingerie company and beige “nude” sells well, and you’ve never looked in the mirror and thought that doesn’t work for me, you’re probably not going to think about it.”
What does a normal day look like for you?
“I always get asked this and there is no normal day. There are about 3-5% of the days when I’m doing something super fun and glamorous, but usually I’m in the office, probably losing my mind over something that’s going wrong.”
Where do you see your My Nubian skin in 5 years?
“Hopefully bigger and better than we are now. I’d love for it to be more accessible to our customers and for the brand and ranges we offer to have grown significantly.”
What steps have you taken to protect your brand identity and what is your brands core values and why?
Our motto “empowering women. Embracing our colour” is very important to me, and I try very hard for the brand to live by that. Our choice of models hopefully brings that across. I want people to be able to look at what we put out and think that works for me, or I can see myself in this brand.
You’ve dressed Beyoncé, who else do you inspire to see representing your brand
“Oprah and Michelle Obama…I’m manifesting it and putting it out there.”
What do you love about ohheygirl – the product and the brand?
“I love that it’s fun and it’s focused on supporting other female entrepreneurs and hustlers.”
You’ve been awarded an MBE, congratulations! Can you tell me more about how and why?
“I was! It was for Services to Fashion, which made me burst into tears when I read that. As to the how, I have no idea. I was so shocked and surprised, and no one has owned up to nominating me, so if they’re reading this, THANK YOU!”
What were your key marketing strategies to build your business?
“For me personally, I think a key marketing strategy to build your business has to start with being true to yourself or to your passion. If that’s there, then it’s a lot easier to get your story across because it’s believable.
Social media is key – social media has really levelled the playing field when it comes to getting your ideas and name out there without having to have huge amounts of money for marketing.
Collaborating with people who believe in your brand and / or ethos – we were really fortunate to have some pretty amazing influencers buy our product on their own and then shout about us because they were excited about it, but we’ve also been open to collaborating with people who we think embody our values or who have exciting ideas about how we can work together
Be consistent – you’ve got to be in it for the long-haul, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Try not to get too discouraged if the middle isn’t moving as quickly as you want. Focus on building great content and engaging with your customers / supporters”
7 tips for young entrepreneurs- by Ade Hassan
1.Believe in yourself – there will be times when this is super hard, but remember it’s your baby, keep at it
2. Ask for help – this can be hard when you’re so passionate about something, but believe me you can’t do it all on your own
3. Build a good support system – I rely on my family a lot, and I have some friends who I know I can pick up the call and cry to. This is so very important. Entrepreneurship can be lonely
4. Build a good network of fellow entrepreneurs who are at the same level as you – this is just as important if not more than having a mentor. Sometimes you need to check in with people who understand what you’re going through to keep you sane
5. Work HARD. Sometimes people see being an entrepreneur as something fun where you get to work for yourself. The reality is so much harder. You need to have nerves of steel and understand that you will need to be in the grind for the long-haul.
6. Go easy on yourself. Mistakes happen. I’ve come to the point that sometimes when things are going catastrophically (in my mind) wrong, I have to take stock. I ask myself if anyone has died and if my family is alright…okay, well then, it’s not the end of the world.
7. Keep going. Doing your own thing can be so tough, but if it was easy, everyone would do it. Keep at it. We hear about the people who kept going, not the ones who didn’t.
What helped you build your business? Advisors, courses, books etc?
“Determination. Seeking expert advice when I didn’t know what I was doing.
Look up books about starting a business in your area of interest. For those interested in fashion, read How to Set up and Run a Fashion Label by Toby Meadows
Tell us how you maintain a work/life balance?
The truth is at the beginning, it wasn’t possible for me, but I was lucky to have supporting family and friends who understood that I was going to be MIA for a while. I have a bit more of a balance now, but I still work on holiday and i’m on my emails when I leave the office.
Just make sure you’re keeping yourself mentally and physically healthy. I think that’s a good base line. After that, it’s figuring out how to maximise your time in the most efficient manner so you’re spending your available time on your priorities. You can’t have absolutely everything at once.
What were the key aspects should you consider when creating a brand and the ethos behind a brand?
What do you believe in or what are you passionate about? If your product isn’t something that you personally can relate to, why are you passionate about your target audience having the specific product you’re making for them?