Banke Kuku is well known in the fashion space for her phenomenal textile designs. The fairly young Nigerian-born CEO has been knitting since she was five years old which lead her to earn a Foundation Art and Design Diploma at Central Saint Martins in London. Continuing her education, she progressed to Chelsea College of Art and design where she specialized in woven textiles and published a book: “The Unwoven Threads of Nigeria” which assessed the Nigerian textile industry. Here are four inspiring lessons that we can learn from this fashion entrepreneur’s journey so far that can help us to build our own personal empires.
1.Start as Early as Possible-Kuku started knitting at five. Although everybody may not have the pleasure of knowing what their area of interest or talent is at such an early age, as soon as you find out do all you need to in order to get going. Take the right courses, and get as much information as possible concerning your craft. Become obsessed with it and be knowledgeable in every way possible.
2.Gain experience– Many of us don’t make the best use of our free time, however Kuku spent her college vacations working in fashion houses such as Burberry, Tank Magazine and Designers Guild Interiors. She then went on to work with Lot 78, Jewel by Lisa, jasmine Di and DuroOlowu. All of this experience gave her the necessary skills and knowledge she needed to start creating her own designs.
3.Stand out-Kuku is known for her African inspired prints which gives her brand and products a clear identity. Her designs tell an African story using a fusion of African and western culture. She was given the nickname ‘Queen of Colour’ by daughter of Mohammed Alfayed, former owner of Harrods as a result of her ability to dye fabrics to the exact colour specification. Knowing what you stand for and who you are as a brand gives you a competitive edge that enables you to shine.
4.Take your time– Patience is something this present generation lacks, but true success takes time. An amazing fact about Kuku’s designs is that they take months and sometimes years to complete. The high quality of her designs has earned her spots in a number of international fashion shows in Milan, New York and Paris as well as the world famous UK store – Selfridges. She also won the Women in Making 2014 competition organised by Triumph International, a billion dollar global lingerie company. Included in her achievements is her making it to one of the top ten finalists at the She Leads Africa competition.
Banke has been one of the lucky ones to have a vision at an early age, but luck isn’t what made her a success. Hard work, focus, diligence, consistency and being true to her passion have been the ingredients in the textile moguls journey to the top.