A Bentley University graduate who joined IBM, post working as an allocation analyst (intern) at TJX Inc. Departing from IBM, she created her company Adirée.
Adirée ™ is an International full service boutique (public relations firm) based in New York, New York with a focus on fashion, art and home decor .
In less than one year, under Adiat’s leadership Adirée secured a proclamation from Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York, declaring the week of July 12-18 as the official date for Africa Fashion Week -a production founded and managed by Adirée - in the state of New York. The success of the show since its conception has increased awareness of African fashion by 8.5 million views, generated financing for designers and artisans marketing initiative, and created 100 jobs. Adirée continues to liaise between African designers and press, buyers, and investors from the United States.
Our full interview is below
Adiat, tell us about yourself?
An African woman, a believer, a passionate individual - one who goes against the grain (as if it was my middle name).
Can you give us some background information about yourself and how fashion influenced you growing up?
I was raised in Lagos Nigeria.
Fashion inspired, motivated, and allowed me to be okay with being different. It also taught me discipline. I realized early on, because of my mother, that there was a “time and a dress” for everything.
This meant, if you wanted to be respected in some form or fashion, in a particular arena, you had to dress the part. Commanding the right attention with your garments could catapult you to the next level. My mother also taught me to identify one part of my body to be the focal point of the day. Through the selection of colors, patterns or cut of the garment I could emphasize only one part of my body alone. My mother and my father were all about demanding the right type and amount of attention.
Who were your fashion inspirations both internationally as well as African designers?
I’m inspired by all of my designers, however the Kosibahs of the world, the Max Azarias, the Kiko Romeos and all of the Funlayo Deris , and of course Yves Saint Laurents, create fashion that is fresh, fun and innovative.
After graduating you pursued a career at IBM as an operations and communications specialist for IT analyst relations. What inspired you to leave a promising career and start Adirée and how certain were you that there was a market for African culture i.e. fashion, art/home décor and beauty?
I’ve always inspired and planned to have my own company, in New York. I knew it would be related to fashion, but from the perspective of a business professional, rather than a creative.
I began my business plan freshmen year of college: constantly speaking and consulting with my professors, utilizing the schools resources and databases for data, and utilizing my peers for feedback as well.
The taste for African culture, fashion, art/home décor came from my undeniable innate feeling of wanting to give back to the continent- to give back to Africa, what it had given to me- Life.
Tell me about Adirée. I understand your company is international recognised in places like Milan, Tokyo, London, Paris, and New York and is not solely based on high end African fashion. In addition to fashion, you cater to a clientele that has a demand for art/home décor and beauty.
We (Adirée) were the first to create and coin the concept of Africa Fashion Week in fashion capitals: New York, London, Paris, Milan, Berlin, Tokyo, Los Angeles. Our goal is to re-brand Africa and position it as a continent that also produces luxury products and services, much like its European counterparts. We believe with this licensing model we can create a consistent platform which will be the African Fashion Guide for each fashion capital.
Adirée™ is an international full service boutique based in New York, NY with a focus on fashion, beauty, art and home decor. The main objective of Adirée is to bring awareness to international luxury and mass brands (our clients) that are socially conscious and culturally driven.
Adirée clients are in two folds: international clients (i.e. those from Africa) who would like to establish a presence in New York. Also, clients based in New York or neighboring states that want a global presence or focus in Africa:
Adirée has multiple departments which offer clients with the following services:
· Social Media: Adirée™ connects clients directly to their target audience by using social media tools in consistent and appropriate ways.
· Public Relations and Special Events: Adirée™ offers a wide range of services from strategic planning, to editorial placement and media relations. We customize comprehensive programs that align with your branding efforts and overall company goals.
· Showroom: Adirée™ carefully selects luxury brands with a global appeal and fashion forward edge. Adirée™ Showroom is a one stop shop that allows clients to promote their products, raise their brand awareness, establish long lasting relationship with customers and increase profits in one of the world’s fashion capital. Editors, stylists, and high profile individuals will have the opportunity to pull your items for photoshoots and events.
· Consulting: Adirée™ provides advice and expertise in helping organizations improve their performance looking at existing business problems and developing plans for improvement.
· Studio: Adirée™ provides clients with a variety of graphic and website design services to enable them to reach and connect with their target audience.
· Talent Management: Adirée™ manages fashion models (male and female) by ensuring proper booking in their interested areas
New York, New York, is one of the epicenters for business, specifically fashion, art, and entertainment, making it attractive to many entrepreneurs.
There are multiple public relation firms within New York. But none that truly address the concerns of international (luxury and mass market) brands from emerging markets- specifically from Africa.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared a proclamation announcing that Adirée undertake the enormous task of securing the production of the first and only Africa Fashion Week. How proud were you as a new, emerging company to be given a prestigious honor from Mayor Bloomberg? And how has this changed your company and what does it mean for African designers, artists, sculptors, and other artistic, creative Africans?
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is heavily involved in the development of New York City (increasing tourism, jobs, and opportunities for the youth). I believe that Africa Fashion Week (New York) has many similarities to his overall ideology. Also, consider that he is a heavy supporter of New York Fashion Week. I believe this fashion week only contributes to the vision.
Your motto is “Where Fashion Began”… What does that mean to you?
“Luxury Brands Focused Globally” is the motto for Adirée.
The tag line, "Where Fashion Began" is the evocation of something new, large, and innately luxurious, however contained- as we all know it- in one of the world’s fashion capitols- New York. But there is a spin: the origins of where things began―art, culture, fashion― is essentially Africa. I think the tag line really embodies a merger between the two. A love child that is undeniably perfect in all of its being.
How has fashion, art/home décor, and the global culture been influenced by Africa?
Africa fashion has rich, vibrant, and effervescent colors. The colors and textures are unique to the tradition and culture of Africa that even some of the most esteemed fashion designers Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Jacobs, and Diane Von Furstenberg are inspired by it.
African Art & Home Décor is just as vibrant, geometrically innovative, and influential in the interior design industry. Model Iman created a home line mainly using prints, and aesthetics that were African Inspired.
Also, in a 15th-century, second-floor walk-up apartment in Florence, Italy― a couple: Adam Gaon, a New York-born architect and Loredana Tarini, born in Zambia, to Italian parents created a home where “New York meets Africa.” Does that concept sound familiar?
What are some of your personal goals and passions?
Personal goal- to stay graceful and humble regardless of circumstances. Passion- First; to deeply interact with everyone I meet and second; to trigger a stampede of women entrepreneurs from the continent.
Great leadership is fundamental in any execution of work. How do you describe your leadership style?
What is on the horizon for Adiat and Adirée? What can we expect to see from you and your African influence in relations to fashion, art/home décor and beauty?
Expect to see Adirée begin to establish a presence in Africa. Also, expect to see new clients in the areas of beauty and home décor from countries like Kenya, Botswana, Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa.
Personally, I have a few more brands that I would love to develop and contribute to the world. And I truly aspire to do so.
Nevertheless a majority of my focus will be speaking engagements and getting to the root of some fundamental issues, concerning barriers that designers from emerging markets face. I want our company to focus on creating tactical solutions for these designers, beginning with assisting them in acquire funding and support from organizations. However you’ll simply have to keep up (www.twitter.com/adiatdisu) to find out more.
Lastly what makes you an empowered woman and how do you ensure that your beacon of light shines bright enough for other women to emulate?
What makes me empowered is my faith. Faith has the audacity to go beyond peoples’ thoughts, opinions, vision, and expectations- an audacity that I’ve come to respect, love and simply allow to “do its thing.”
In addition to this, I’ve realized that taking and applying all of your experiences is great. But more importantly is the act of not allowing your lack of experience to stop you from achieving your purpose.
I don’t believe I have to ensure that my light is bright. I believe a light simply does what it does naturally (illuminates). It isn’t concerned with itself, so much as its surrounds. It’s not concerned with its capabilities; its main concern is to providing a resource, to its surrounding area.
Your platform adds its own light, to other individual’s platforms. I don’t believe you are so much concerned with how bright your light shines. You are simply doing what you are capable and passionate about (executing your capabilities). You are providing a resource to me (telling my story), and the illumination contributes to all of our lights.
Interview with CNN International : Africa Fashion Week (AFWNY) Director speaks to the media : http://bit.ly/rMenRE