Quantcast

How Ade Hassan of Nubian Skin Turned Her Love of Lingerie Into A Booming Business

For Ade Hasson, it was the frustration of not finding lingerie and hosiery that matched her complexion that helped her discover that there...

BOSS UP

Everybody reaches a point in life when they discover their purpose.

There are a lucky few who know exactly what they want to be when they grow up from the moment they start grade school. Others find out in college after taking classes and joining clubs that help narrow down their interests. Then there are people who discovered their calling years later in the midst of seeking a solution to a problem. For Ade Hassan, it was the frustration of not finding lingerie and hosiery that matched her complexion that helped her discover that there was more to life than a poor selection of stockings.

Through her frustrations Nubian Skin was created, and Hassan began her mission of empowering women of color to embrace their skin tones through their hosiery. Having undergarments that are flattering to your skin tone is very important, and as women we love to feel sexy and confident through our clothing.

As Ade told xoNecole:

"Lingerie is the foundation of every woman's wardrobe. Being able to have something that matches your skin tone helps you express yourself, and it makes you feel more comfortable in your skin - which is something that every woman should be able to feel."

With over 100,000 followers on Instagram and support from celebrities like Kerry Washington, Nubian Skin is on the rise to becoming the go-to brand for everything lingerie and hosiery for women of color.

Talking to Ade, I was most inspired by her miraculous, yet successful, launch of her company. "I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur and I've always wanted to be in fashion - although that's not something that I've studied," says Ade. "I was working in a very corporate environment before Nubian Skin and there was always frustrations of either not finding panty hose that's my color or wearing shirts that were quite sheer, but not wanting to always wear a black camisole underneath. Or when you are in a business meeting and your strap is showing or you can tell that you have red bra under a white top; I didn't want that, I wanted nude. When I went into a shop and asked for that, they didn't have my color. I remember sitting at a desk and the idea just popped into my head, and I said 'why don't you just make it?' So I sent a text to my friend and told her I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and that was the beginning of my journey."

After discovering her calling in 2011, Ade didn't actively start working on her business until 2013. She finally launched Nubian Skin in October of last year, and since then she has done pretty well for herself. Nubian Skin has products in five stores in the UK, two in Portugal, 21 stores in the U.S., and can be sold through nine websites online. In the U.S., Nubian Skin can be found in various Nordstrom stores in New York, Detroit, and DC just to name a few.

Although Ade and Nubian Skin have done well, the road to success hasn't always been sexy. Launching a business in the fashion industry can be quite difficult between selling your brand, to finding manufacturers, designers, and materials for your clothing. For Ade, she faced many challenges, but the biggest was at the beginning of her business journey.

"I think the biggest hurdle for me at the beginning was finding manufactures. I was super excited once I started - I sent out emails to different manufacturer companies, and I wanted to make samples, but nobody got back to me," says Ade. "When you are so excited about something but no one seems to be responding, that's really hard, but luckily I figured out quickly that I needed some expert advice. I found a consultant and she said 'you need to go trade shows, that's where you will meet manufactures,' so that's what I did. From then, it went onwards and upwards."

Getting expert advice from consultants and mentors is something that she recommends to young entrepreneurs. In addition, Ade recommends that aspiring bosses should hustle hard and avoid getting money from outside sources if possible when starting a business. Nubian Skin is self-funded, and between Ade's savings and help from her family and friends, she was able to start a company that she was passionate about. By not depending on outside sources to get her business started, she was able to dominate so much of her business.

"I do think it's good to keep as much control as you can in the beginning, especially if you have a specific vision for what you want to do, and then at the right time bring in outside money."

So what happens after you are able to launch the business. How do you manage one of the most important objects like your people?

As we all know, being a manager is not always easy, especially at times when you are a young manager. It doesn't matter if you have a large staff or small staff, having good managerial skills is crucial. Ade has a small staff, but still has significant advice for young managers that she lives by herself.

"It's definitely important to surround yourself with people who are passionate--I think you can just tell the difference. Working with people that actually care is invaluable, and making sure you surround yourself with people that are intelligent, and who are go-getters is important," Ade tells us. "It's really important to let people do what they are good at. I think when this is your business you're sort of quite keen to micromanage everything, but a lot of times when people are good and competent you can just should sort of let them go. You will be amazed at the wonderful things that they can come up with."

Learning how to be a manager isn't something that we believe can be taught in school - it's either something that you were born with or that you learn over time through experiences. When Ade was in college at Duke University, she focused on doing things that interested her and that she was passionate about. When she was in school, she always felt it was important to do things that would enable her to progress in the future from a career perspective.

By never losing sight of her passion and partaking in activities that would eventually help her evolve into the savvy, business woman that she is today, Ade is living out her dream. She told us that eventually she would like to have her own Nubian Skin flagship store, but she also understands the value of be patient and knowing how to please the consumer.

"One of the things that we are very conscious of is growing at a healthy pace and not running before we can walk. Ideally, yes, in several years I would love, love, love to have a Nubian Skin flagship shop, but for the time being I want to really make sure we get the product right, and that we are getting what people want."

When Nubian Skin first launched, some of the biggest feedback Ade received was that they needed more sizes. Within six months, they launched bigger sizes, and in the very near future they are planning to launch a larger range of hosiery. For women with varying skin tones and sizes this is very important, and will answer the prayers for many women of color that just cannot find what they need from the typical lingerie and hosiery companies.

When Ade is not working hard, she is doing what every young woman likes to do - she loves to go out with friends, dance, and shop. Ade believes in the value of having balance and having "me" time.

At the young age of 31, the booming entrepreneur has proven to the world that if you have a vision, do not let it slip away. Ade fully believes in working hard and not giving up on your dreams. Through her story and through her business, Ade is impacting our world, one bra and panty hose at a time.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

As a Black woman slaying in business, you're more than likely focused on the bottom line: Serving your customers and making sure the bag doesn't stop coming in. Well, there's obviously more to running a business than just making boss moves, but as the CEO or founder, you might not have the time, energy, or resources to fill in the blanks.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Megan Thee Stallion is such a breath of fresh air. To me, she represents women that are unapologetic about doing what's best for themselves. In a world where women, *cough* Black women *cough* are so policed--from hair, to behavior, to reactions--she shows up as a superhero, inspiring and representing a young generation of women who are authentically themselves. And not only that, they're women who don't stray from getting what they deserve.

Keep reading... Show less

Most experts would agree that it's best to maintain a safe distance from an ex following a breakup. But with social media being the clickbait that it is, keeping many of us tethered to our devices at any given minute, it's that much harder to resist the temptation to engage in risky business after a breakup (i.e. lurking onto our ex's social profiles). Aside from the infringement of privacy into our ex's day-to-day activities, staying digitally connected can stunt our own process of healing.

Keep reading... Show less

Meagan Good is no stranger to scrutiny over the span of her career. She's faced very public image criticism for a multitude of reasons, from eyebrows, all the way to "that" skin-lightening incident. And when she married her husband, producer, best-selling author and motivational speaker, DeVon Franklin, many people felt she didn't fit the persona of a woman who is married to a devout Christian, being that her image was based on something like a sex symbol.

Keep reading... Show less

I know some people who absolutely hate to grocery shop. Maybe it's because I'm single with no kids (which means that I have less to get) yet I'm on the opposite side of the coin. Because I like to cook often and grocery shopping is how I get a lot of random thinking accomplished (because I'm away from my computer), I really like it. And over the past couple of years, I've become more intentional about getting what my body, as a woman, needs.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

'Insecure' Writer Mike Gauyo Talks His Journey From Med School To The Writers' Room

"Meeting Issa Rae was a story of perseverance, following up, being persistent and all of the characteristics and attributes you need to be a successful writer."

Latest Posts