Creating a company from scratch, changing the game in women’s lingerie and receiving Kerry Washington’s blessing – all in a days work right? Ade Hassan is the founder and CEO of Nubian Skin, a women’s lingerie company created with women of colour in mind. We catch up with Ade to talk business, Kerry Washington and underwear at her office in Bloomsbury, London.

Nubian Skin is a UK-born company and first of its kind, created from Ade’s frustration with the lingerie industry as she worked in finance. ‘In the corporate world, you wear lots of blouses and skirts – not being able to find my tights (hosiery) was really annoying.’ She says, sitting opposite me with a warm smile, poised and composed in a small, organized room. ‘I was wearing a white top and didn’t have a nude bra, and sent a text to a friend saying ‘I’ve figured out what I want to do for the rest of my life!’’

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The nude clothing industry is notorious for catering only to those with lighter skins, with many ethnicities having to ‘make do’ with black underwear and hosiery, or a nude shade much lighter than their skin tone, problematic in situations where inconspicuous underwear is desired. Hassan had no problem leading the solution, attributing her success to self-belief in the idea.
‘I’m pretty stubborn, if I decide that I want to do something, I generally go for it’ she tells me, an unspoken determination in her features.
‘All of my friends with lighter skin have nude bras and tights, its easy. Every woman wears these things. Probably over half the world has darker skin, why wouldn’t they want the same thing?’

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Why indeed. Nubian Skin started without a budget for marketing, but by the time they went to market and launched, they had over 20,000 people signed up to their newsletters and many more on Twitter and Instagram, avidly awaiting the release of the product they craved.

Hassan links this to heaven sent, unplanned events. ‘It was the most amazing thing’, she bounces in her chair, grinning with excitement as I encourage her to continue.
‘I had no clue how to market Nubian Skin. We’d put an image of the models on Instagram and then my phone kept buzzing, I had 10 followers on Instagram, then 50. In 4 weeks we went from 50 followers to 20,000’
Unbeknownst to Hassan at the time, Kerry Washington had retweeted an article featuring Nubian Skin, accompanied by one word – ‘Awesome’. With A-lister approval, the lingerie brand went viral on social media. Press came in droves including the very best – Oprah Magazine, Huffington Post, Marie Claire – press for which even long-established companies dream.

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With a community in place, Nubian Skin had the energy to thrive, and did so with exceptional speed. ‘The plan had always been direct to consumer, people want to touch and feel the product.’
Retailers have been happy to oblige, with, Fenwicks, and more recently House of Fraser, an upscale UK department store, stocking Nubian Skin. Then, at a trade show, Hassan met two women who’d really make her day.
‘We’re buyers from Nordstrom, we’ve been following your company’.
Today, Hassan’s line is stocked there, an event for which she could not have more excitement. ‘When I thought about the USA shop that I wanted to be in, it was Nordstrom, that was the shop!’

Its been just under a year since she launched in October 2014, and what a journey, as the head of such a fast-growing company. But for Ade this isn’t just about business, its personal for her too, creating a product for those never before catered to; creating a new nude. ‘Nubian Skin isn’t just surface level’, she notes, ‘If the default is x and you don’t fit x, that can be incredibly alienating, it can make people feel underrepresented or not cared about, and that isn’t right’.
With fans desperate for NS products all over the world, from Brazil to India, South Africa to Australia, the cry is overwhelming: ‘We love this product, its been too long without it, we want it now.’ One of her younger followers wrote Hassan from the UK countryside to say, ‘There isn’t much diversity here, but I’m saving for a Nubian Skin bra’.


As a 30 year old, being a young, female minority in the business world has not been without hurdles, and though she and her community believe in this product, the journey hasn’t been easy. ‘People doubt your knowledge, or try to take advantage.’ She explains. ‘You have to show them you have a very clear plan, an understanding for what you want to achieve, and believe in your idea, whether its from an emotional perspective or financial perspective. Then people doubt their first impressions’.
So what’s her advice for budding leaders? ‘Make sure that you really, really want to do it!!’ Her eyes gleam and she laughs as she continues, ‘Some people are supposed to be CEO of an established company, do that! Others are supposed to give it all up and start something of your own. But make sure you can handle it.’
As she sits in front of me in her office, packed with papers, and to-do post it notes, head of a company growing every day, its quite apparent that she is one of the few who not only wants to start something of her own but can also handle it.