Entrepreneur, Ade Hassan Launches Nude Shoe Line for Women of Color
The London-based brand made a shoe line for women of all shades
Ade Hassan Nubian Skin Shoe Line
After launching her Nubian Skin lingerie line in 2014, Ade Hassan has decided to explore the footwear industry with her new label, designed exclusively for women of color. The diverse brand has much to offer; from her curvy girl friendly, plus-sized tights, to the versatility of models on her website, Ade Hassan has mastered the art of representation one heel at a time. Hassan spoke with EBONY.com about her product inspo, creation process and future plans.
A post shared by Ade Hassan (@itsadehassan) on Feb 22, 2017 at 11:45am PST
EBONY.com: Your brand is so refreshing and you cater to women that were forgotten for so long. Tell us about your story. Why did you start your brand?
Hassan: Thank you! Nubian Skin was born out of my own frustration of not being able to find what I wanted in shops. Nude lingerie and hosiery in my skin-tone was something that simply wasn’t available, so I decided to create it! I knew I couldn’t be the only one who felt this way.
A post shared by Ade Hassan (@itsadehassan) on Dec 9, 2016 at 6:21am PST
EBONY.com: So now you have this amazing brand of lingerie and have decided to add a footwear collection. How was the creative process?
Hassan: I love shoes. I knew in my head for years, the exact type of shoes I would want in nude if I could find them! The dream coming to life was a happy moment of serendipity when I realized one of the ladies in my network was a footwear designer. We worked together on creating the shapes in my head into the technical design and then it was a matter of finding leather that matched our shades perfectly. We also added a new color – Champagne!
EBONY.com: What was the hardest part in the process of designing a shoe?
Hassan: We’ve gone with classic shoes, so the style was easy for me. Determining the heel height took a lot of thought.
EBONY.com: Why did you decide to create a Nude collection?
Hassan: Shoes were something I always wanted to do, so when I met a fantastic manufacturer we thought we’d jump on the opportunity. Shoes are another thing that is regularly made in ‘nude’, but not in a spectrum of colors.
EBONY.com: How would you recommend the shoes be styled?
Hassan: Nude goes with everything, so it’s an incredibly easy color to wear with any other color. Both shoes are classic silhouettes, so the heels look great with jeans and a cute top but also with a party or office dress. The flats are classic and subtle and can be put with just about any outfit but this spring we’re particularly loving them for work and running around town.
EBONY.com: I’ve come across Nubian Skin on Asos.com and Nordstrom.com. How has the response been from the American market?
Hassan: Incredible, we never could have predicted how much support we would receive. We were also incredibly fortunate to have ASOS and Nordstrom pick us up really early on – it means a lot to have such big names supporting your brand.
EBONY.com: While we know being your own boss is not easy, and includes some lows. The high of collaborating with Beyoncé on her formation Tour trumped them all, I am sure. How did the Beyoncé collaboration come to life?
Hassan: It definitely did – what more could you want?! We received an e-mail in one of the inboxes about the collaboration and immediately thought it was a scam, so I reached out to a few friends who work in the industry and they replied telling me that it was definitely real and to respond – so we did! It is unbelievable to have an artist like Beyoncé choose to wear Nubian Skin as the base for her costumes on the Formation Tour. Beyoncé is a global phenomenon and the fact that her team knows about our brand and have selected it is a testament to the work we’re trying to do. It is such validation to see a squad of beautiful, brown women and know that Nubian Skin has a product which is allowing them to express that diversity to perfection
What can we expect from Nubian Skin next? Can you give us an inside scoop/things you are working on?
Hassan: A lot of the feedback we’ve received so far has been about the need to include larger cups, so we’re working on a collection that will be going up to a G-cup (US I-cup) and will be out later this year. After that, we have lots of exciting ideas up our sleeves, so you’ll have to wait and see!
EBONY.com: With such beautiful designs, what is the philosophy of your brand? Who is the Nubian Skin Woman?
Hassan: Our philosophy is Empowering Women & Embracing Our Color. We want women of all ethnicities to feel included, appreciated and most of all sexy, in lingerie especially tailored for them! The Nubian Skin Woman is any woman who wants to feel comfortable in her own skin.
To learn more about Nubian Skin, visit Hassan’s website here.
Cathy Hughes, Radio One: From Teen Mom To Media Mogul
But pregnancy “was the beginning,” Hughes said. The birth of her son, Alfred Liggins, as “an impetus to achieve,” Hughes told The Huffington Post. “It was the reason I took my life seriously for the first time as a teenager and made a promise to myself, my son and God that he would not become a black statistic.”
Hughes did end up becoming a statistic: She started the largest African-American owned and operated broadcast company in the U.S. and became the first African-American woman to head a publicly traded company. Her Washington, D.C.-based Radio One has 53 radio stations in 16 urban markets, with projected 2012 revenues of $433 million. As CEO, Liggins has expanded Radio One into TV and online ventures.
Hughes’ rise from teen mom to media mogul didn’t come easily. Working her way up at the Howard University radio station in the 1970s, she had the opportunity in 1979 to buy a radio station with her husband. When they separated within a year, the business tumbled. She lost her home but refused to give up her company. She and her son slept on the floor of the radio station until she finally turned the business around.
HuffPost Small Business talked to Hughes about her passion for radio, growing up poor and what it was like to raise a child without a home.
How did your love of radio start?
When I was 8, my mother gave me a transistor radio for Christmas, and I became obsessed with radio. We were living in the projects in Omaha, Neb., six of us with one bathroom, and I would lock myself in the bathroom and use my toothbrush as a microphone, looking in the mirror, doing the commercials and news. People were always pounding on the door, telling me to get out, but I was preparing for my future life.
Everyone in my world thought I should have an abortion, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t penalize another human being with the mistake I made, even though I realized I didn’t have the education and financial resources I needed. Having that baby forced me to put someone else ahead of my own selfish desires.
I became an entrepreneur because of him. One day, he had a fever and my employer said “if you walk out that door, don’t come back.” That’s when I decided I needed to be in control of my professional environment so I could be there for my child.
What was the most important lesson you learned as a teen mom that translated to running a business?
Focus. An elderly woman who provided child care told me the secret to successful parenting was to keep your attention focused on your children. And one of the key characteristics of an effective manager is to not have your attention distracted from your employees, goals and objectives. You have to keep your eye on the prize, whether that’s running a business or rearing a child.
How did you end up living on the floor of your radio station?
The radio station was a financial disaster for seven years. But I stayed focused on not losing my company, and that’s why I moved into the station and did whatever it took. I was willing to let everything go except my son and my business, in that order.
Did you ever think about giving up while sleeping on the floor?
Never, never, never. I was determined that my son and I would build a successful business. I’d tell lenders, “Do you think I’m going to let this fail when I’m sleeping in a sleeping bag, washing up in a public bathroom? I’m giving it my all.”
What was it like raising a son while living in the radio station?
I never saw him as deprived. He graduated from the best high school in D.C., went to UCLA and participated in all the things regular kids do. It wasn’t until I was about 55, when someone said to me “you were homeless,” that it hit me. I was down to 14 employees running a 24/7 business. I was glad we were in the radio station, because sometimes in middle of the night I’d have to get up and do something.
What was the turnaround?
At year 7, my accountant sent me the monthly financial statement, and I said “you forgot to put the brackets in red ink.” I was so focused, I didn’t know I was coming out of the hole.
What has building the company with your son meant to you?
It was my son’s idea to diversify. When he got his MBA from Wharton, he said, “We’re not going to be a mom and son operation anymore. We’re going public.” This all started from being a family, and even as a public corporation, we operate as a family business. Too much of American industry is focused on the bottom line and not enough is focused on the front lines.
Name: Cathy Hughes
Company: Radio One
Location: Washington, D.C. area
Started: On the air in 1980
Employees: about 1,500
2012 Projected Revenues: $433.5 million