A few decades ago, when people talked about getting basic undergarments, you knew that you had to have black, white and nude. But the concept of as a number of people with brown skin tones were unable to find a color that matched. Just like beauty brands have begun to conquer what nude means across the color spectrum, this same movement has taken place in footwear as well as lingerie.
nude was relative
We remember a few years ago when we first heard about Nubian Skin - a line that began as lingerie that included shades that matched brown skin tones and was represented by models that also reflect the consumer who buys the line.
After fangirling from afar, we caught up with Nubian Skin's founder, Ade Hassan about the process behind launching this line, how she grew the assortment, being honored by His Royal Highness Prince William with the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and how she takes time for herself while growing her business.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Prior to creating Nubian Skin, can you tell us about your background?
ADE HASSAN: My background isn’t actually in fashion at all. I was working in finance, which had been my career and when I had taken a break from finance, I did consulting for a year. However, while I was consulting in 2011, I had the idea for Nubian Skin and that was the first spark. I didn’t actively start working on the company until May 2013. When I came up with the idea I knew I needed to change jobs and save money, so I went back into finance and it was in the midst of this, that I actively registered the company and really started on getting it from an idea to an actual business.
AM: What led you to create Nubian Skin?
AH: I came up with the idea in 2011, and I had told a friend about the idea. Later that year, she sent me a birthday card that said, 'it's time to start living the life you've always imagined,’ I immediately registered the business.
AM: What were the initial items in Nubian Skin, how has that changed to the current assortment, and what are new items that you can share with us that will be available this spring?
AH:We started out with our hosiery, essential and lace collections, and we have since added more sizes, a curve hosiery collection, our Africa-inspired collection, Moroccan Nights, a collection of nude shoes including heels and flats, we also did a collaboration with another designer, d.bleu.dazzled, and more recently, we launched our Naked Collection, a new range of intimates in nude tones! We have some exciting things in the pipeline, soon we will be launching our fuller-bust bras, and after that, we have a few exciting ideas up our sleeves, so watch this space!
AM: In addition to having an online presence, what boutiques is the brand available in?
AH: Our products are available at a range of boutiques, including Nubian Hueman in DC, BraTenders in Manhattan, Suzette Hosiery in Yonkers and Busted Bra Shop in Detroit. We also
have stockists in the UK, Nigeria, Portugal and the French Caribbean. Check out the stockists page on our website for the full list!
AM: What celebrities have worn the brand and who would you like to see wearing it?
AH: Beyoncé and her dancers wore it for the Formation Tour! We’ve also seen it on Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae and Taraji P Henson in Hidden Figures, Jourdan Dunn, Leomie Anderson & Jackie Aina to name a few. We’d absolutely love to see Rihanna in Nubian Skin!
AM: In addition to having a necessary range of lingerie, we love the models that represent the brand as they are diverse in hues as well as body types - how important was having this representation?
AH: It was really important because I wanted women to be able to look at the campaign and see somebody who looked like them, or their mother, or sister. Representation is important, it can be a really empowering thing.
AM: You received the MBE from Prince William last year. What is this, why is it awarded, what it was like to receive it?
AH: An MBE is ‘Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire’, and the list recognizes achievements and contributions of a wide range of extraordinary people across the UK. My award was for fashion, in recognition of my mission to redefine nude through Nubian Skin, and the impact it has consequently made on the industry. It was such an incredible and
AM: You closed out the year being honored in LA at the Ebony Power 100 as an entrepreneur
in 2017 - who were your favorite people that you met in the room and what did this acknowledgment mean to you?
AH: By far, the highlight had to be meeting Maxine Waters…she is just an incredible person and takes no nonsense. I was really surprised to get the letter that I was to be on the list. It’s an amazing thing to be honoured, because I have so much respect for the publication and the history behind it. Being named with such an amazing group of entrepreneurs was incredibly
inspiring to me.
AM: In addition to your brand's IG page, your personal page really shares what it's like as you continue to build your company from new additions to your line, the life of an entrepreneur - acknowledgments that you have received and more. How important is it for you to share these details and mentor those digitally?
AH: Thank you! I’d never thought of it as digitally mentoring before, as I'm not that great or consistent on my personal page, but it is nice to engage with people and know that there are those who are supporting what I do and care about it. I think it is important for people to see that hard work and grit can go a long way, and though there are definite highs, there's a lot of elbow grease that goes into living your dream.
AM: You're a busy woman who is always traveling - when you're back home in London where is your favorite place to shop, where do you enjoy eating and where do you grab a cocktail? Do you have another city that you frequently visit that you enjoy shopping, eating and grabbing a drink?
AH: I love being home in my flat!! Haha, London is so diverse, I can’t really pick a favourite because there are so many amazing places to choose from, BUT I am very partial to afternoon tea. Two cities I can’t get enough of are Lagos, it’s so vibrant and a lot of fun, and Paris… Paris is always a good idea.
AM: How do you take time for yourself in the midst of your busy career?
AH: It can be difficult to find a balance, but I’m getting better at it. This year, I’m trying to focus on really enjoying all parts of the journey, so if I'm travelling for work, I'm making sure to seek out some time for myself and do something enjoyable. I was speaking to a couple of fellow entrepreneur friends the other week about how taking time for yourself takes discipline. So, I make sure I’m spending quality time with loved ones and taking care of my health by exercising.
AM: What philanthropy or charity(ies) do you support?
AH: I volunteer, and I donate on a monthly basis to my SOAS, where I did my masters, to their education fund. The UK raised tuition fees pretty dramatically several years ago, and I wanted
to do a little bit to make sure that students who couldn’t afford it will still get the opportunity to attend such a great institution.