Aisha Ayoade is a 20 year old English Literature student but also is a fashion entrepreneur on the side selling tops with african printed designs.
Aisha was inspired to start her store from a spirit of restlessness and take advantage of today’s age where technology and the power of the internet is rife “Being in the position that I’m in (a creative in a good university living in the age of the internet) there are so many opportunities available to me. Especially in the past few years, there has been an influx of Black British creatives just going about starting their own business and brands left right and centre. I wanted that to be me.”
The process of starting up has been an enjoyable process for Aisha who says I’ve never been the one to put myself out there, I enjoy projects but not so much sharing them. The fact that I have a blog made it a lot easier because I’d already got used to advertising my blog posts and stuff. But I think the difference between my blog and online shop is that with my blog I’m not too fussed about clicks and views because I really just enjoy blogging.
With the shop on the other hand I’m advertising to make money, which takes the fun out of it a little bit because I have to find the balance between showing off cute tops and bombarding my timeline pleading for sales *laughs*. Nevertheless, I’ve loved watching it grow and the photoshoots I force my friends to do with me are undoubtedly the best part.”
Aisha’s ankara off the shoulder tops come in an array of designs of traditional Nigerian patterns made by her mum’s tailor back in Nigeria. Which is one of the important driving points for the brand, to support Nigeria’s economy. “Her work is so good yet her store is so small. She gets customers but not nearly as many as she deserves. I mean I may not be adding to her customer count, seen as she’s making all those tops for me, but I’m giving her more revenue, so one small step for Nigerian economy, one considerably big step for my mum’s tailor.”
Like any new budding entrepreneur, Aisha faced her own challenges when starting up her business. “A tough part was getting it from Nigeria to here, I had to invest my own money! It was one thing paying for them all to be made, then when I realised how expensive it was to get shipped over I got scared, I didn’t want to spend all that money on the tops and shipping and no one buys them! but that’s why parents are the best, the (quite literally) forced me to overcome my fear, and promised me they would sell, and their doing okay so far. so I can’t complain.”
On balancing her time between her business and studies, she reveals the hack to achieving that “The internet is the answer to all my problems. If I tag the right people in my tweet, pages that promote black businesses and brands and stuff, it really helps in keeping the advertising circulating without me having to do much. And also being a full time student also helps. 1. it makes me more organised. 2. I’m in a bubble of girls my age, if they don’t want a top, they probably have a friend who does so uni really helps with word of mouth advertising. As for the time management, because I don’t make the tops I don’t have that pressure, the most time consuming part is making the packaging, but it takes like 15 minutes per package so I wouldn’t really call it a struggle.”
On the best part of the journey so far, Aisha shares that it’s all about the recognition “A few people in uni have come up to me and referred to me as “the girl that sells those tops”, which, as simple as it is, makes me feel like I’m doing something quite cool.”
You can have a look at Aisha’s store here