This is probably the most intimate question we will ever ask you, so bear with us...
What colour bra are you wearing?
Black, white, red? Some of you may have chucked on any bra because, like the multi-tasking modern woman you are, you’re always in a rush. For some, you may have carefully chosen your bra to match what you’re wearing.
Perhaps perfect fitted multiway bra to go under that backless dress? Or maybe a white t-shirt bra for your Topshop white vest? Assuming you’re a black woman, I am willing to bet the one type of bra you’re not wearing is a nude one. A flesh coloured bra for your skin tone and not that off-tan shade you find in most high street lingerie stores.
So when we discovered Nubian Skin - a new lingerie company that creates nude underwear and hosiery for black women, you can imagine the excitement that ran through the Black Ballad office…
“When wearing clothes, especially in a professional environment, a large proportion of women’s tops are sheer. When you are in that context you want to be taken seriously and not worrying if someone can see your black bra strap,” explains Nubian Skin founder Ade Hassan.
“That was something that really annoyed me, that I could not find a nude colour or that I could only find the odd brown bra, but it wasn’t exactly my shade or close to being my shade.
“So Nubian Skin was really born out of my own frustration and what I thought was a big need.”
Launching on October 1st, Ade’s lightbulb moment came during the London 2012 Olympics Games, but she really got the ball rolling after a friend’s message in a birthday card…
“I had the idea in 2012 - during the Olympics. I was in New York for the summer and I was staying with a friend and I told her about the idea, as she has a MBA and I needed to write a business plan.
“We were talking about the idea a lot and I was determined to go ahead with it when I got back to England at the end of the year. However, I became increasingly busy, so I felt that the timing wasn’t right, as work was a massive priority at the time.
‘Then in 2013, my birthday passed and my friend sent me a card that said: ‘Its time to start living the life you’ve always imagined.’
“Inside she wrote: ‘I really believe in your idea, I know you’re going to make this happen. I hope to see you doing big things and I want to say I was there at the beginning.'
“I thought: 'you know what? It is now or never.' It was the catalyst. If I think about the whole concept of me living the life I’ve always imagined then Nubian Skin is part of that life. That's the life I’ve always imagined… So I decided: right. I’m doing it."
However, like all start-ups, Nubian Skin encountered what you may call... teething problems.
“Starting up a company and registering it in England is quite easy. So for me, I did that, got the company trademarked and thought brilliant! I’m on fire!” the 30-year-old beams.
“Then I needed to find a manufacturer - that was the biggest hurdle.
“If you’re looking for a manufacturer who will pay attention to you as a small business, it is really hard.
“They are so used to working with massive companies like Marks and Spencer, Debenhams and John Lewis, when you say I’m trying to create a small collection they’re not interested and that was my biggest struggle. Trying to find a manufacturer that would listen to me and trying to find the contact details of a manufacturer that was trustworthy.”
Finding the right manufacturers, creating a stable business plan that has come to fruition, managing press, Nubian skin’s blog and social accounts, you would imagine that Ade is surrounded by a huge team. Well, she isn’t…
“The actual internal team is quite small. Obviously we work with manufacturers who work with a logistics team and we work with a web development team.”
If we couldn’t admire the emerging businesswoman even more, she is getting Nubian Skin off the ground while holding down a full time job, although she credits her post in the finance sector with helping her to be astute with the money side of the project.
“In regards to financial skills and just general business knowledge, work has been incredibly helpful. I think that as an entrepreneur and as an individual, if you don’t have those skills yourself, then you need find people who can help you.