Our series: BOSS-CHIQUE(ISM) celebrates the young African female entrepreneur and humanitarian making a positive change in their communities. Our aim is to share their stories and aspirations with you, our reader. We look to serve as a catalyst for change in each of your ventures. We hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as we enjoyed listening to all her words of wisdom, as she unfolded the story of her success with Adiree PR.
Adiat Disu is the President of Adirée TM an international public relations and brand development firm, based in New York, New York that founded and manages Africa Fashion Week New York in addition to established platforms Africa Fashion Week : London | Paris | Milan | Berlin | Tokyo. Adirée TM is focused on fashion, art/home decor and beauty- with the motto: luxury brands focused globally.Under Ms. Disu's auspices Adirée TM has focused on branding Africa, as a destination for luxury brands, and has taken brands that are exclusive and placed them on nationally esteemed and recognizable stages via placements in Elle, Washington Post, Huffington Post, and more. In less than one year, under Disu's leadership Adirée TM also 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 in the state of New York. The success of the production since its conception has increased awareness of African fashion by 8.5 million views generated 20+k in financing for African designers and artisans, to showcase in the U.S. and created 50+ jobs. Adirée TM continues to liaise between African designers and U.S. based press, buyers, and investors. At only 25 years of age, Adiat Disu’s work with building the African Fashion Industry and empowering African Women Entrepreneurs has already been featured on CNN International, Los Angeles Times , Elle (Bulgaria) and has collaborated with formidable design talents like Diane Von Furstenberg and other business entities such as Anthropologie, Cristina Dos Santos Design, Decoration and Design Building, Global Table, Organic Shea Butter, and Tory Burch LLC.
ON ADIAT DISU THE WOMAN
|Photo Credit Robert Cooper|
Q: Who is Ms. Disu in one word? And why?
It is exciting being an African woman who has traveled and been influenced by many cultures. I can contribute my experiences from growing up in Nigeria and the United States to my work. From that fusion, I am able to see Africa from an international perspective and approach projects in that manner.
Q: Adiree PR ‘s brand is truly growing and you’ve just ended a fashion week! What motivated you to start African Fashion Week in New York?
A: Adiree is the founder of the concept of Africa Fashion Week in fashion capitals. We began this concept and branding strategy in 2010, with the idea that Africa Fashion Week can be birthed in all of our fashion capitals, creating a strong African Fashion Calendar, globally. If you visit our website, www.adiree.com, under the events section: Africa Fashion Week New York | London | Paris | Milan | Berlin | Tokyo. You’ll see it’s something we’ve been working on steadily. Our goal is to build a team of partners (i.e. USAID, Origin Africa, ) and investors, without compromising the vision. Adiree has taken Africa fashion week outside of its continental boundaries and have made it that it has an international calendar so people can see that we can compete internationally and not only on the continent…One vision, one direction, and a clean attitude towards moving Africa’s Fashion Industry forward.
Q: Could you tell us one thing you love about yourself and your work?
A: About myself, the ability to see beyond what is in front of me and not be moved by any challenges. And about my work, I enjoy seeing the fruits of labor. I enjoy seeing people come together and all efforts manifesting into positive results. My joy is for designers to say “I received this opportunity because of my exposure at AFW”, or editors calling upon Adiree to receive our perspective on what Louis Vuitton and Burberry have done in relation to African fashion.
Overall, I’m excited because young Africans, such as myself are taking our destiny into our hands; we are not relying on everybody else to tell the story of who we are. It is our opportunity to show who we are, and not wait for the world to define us.
Q: Are there any regrets that you have?
A: Regrets are for those who do not understand the power of learning
In order for you to learn anything in life there must be mistakes and in making those mistakes there is that moment of resurrection and enlightenment. In overcoming challenges, I find that evaluating the things you have done, and then asking “how can I have done this better”, is the generally the best approach.
It is also as important to take a look at those who have done it before you, and from that perspective take note of how you can improve.
Q: What would you say sets you apart from others as an entrepreneur?
A: My ability to sacrifice and not compromise as well as listening to that voice inside of me irrespective of the surroundings.
I do think everyone has the ability to sacrifice, but it varies with individuals. When we started this, African fashion was still in its infancy. I was 22 at that time when I conceived this overall vision. Unfortunately or fortunately, it was during the time when top fortune 500 companies were laying off slews of employees, companies were shutting down, and financial resources were limited.
Think about it…I’m in a position where the economy is screaming help and others are screaming “No, this is a passing trend.” Nevertheless, my mind was screaming yes. The concept of Africa Fashion Week (s) in global fashion capitals was born.
Q: Can you tell us the top 3 things every woman needs to be successful in the fashion industry or any business?
A: You must constantly be inspired or you will expire…..
1. You must constantly move to be inspired or u will expire. If you are not researching, reading articles, moving about meeting people, indulging in various industries, you can become stagnant and stale.
2. “Approach life with a (PEN)” Plan | Execute | Note. Write your thoughts, missions, and accomplishments with an attitude of permanence. I believe in the power of writing things in ink. Ink is powerful, it’s difficult to manipulate, and very bold. One’s approach to life, should be very similar to that of Ink.
3. You must only compromise your standards for the better.
4. As a bonus I will add never look at what you can achieve with your own hand alone because in that you have limited yourself. I have many people to thank for the growth of AFW, having the right people is important because by you adding the possibility of success by several folds, by not limiting your work to what you can do alone.
Q: What has your experience with AFWNY taught you and what should our readers look forward to for next year?
A:” The Wealth of the wise are in a few words. “ - Folasade(smiles).
ON AFRICAN WOMEN
Q: What Impact do you think you are making on African women and girls and are you involved in any causes?
A: I recently spoke at the United Nations to African women delegates about entrepreneurship. It was an honor as a young African woman, at the young age of 25 to enter into the UN to speak; and work with brands such as Tory Burch, Diane Von Furstenberg and more. These brands have been around for years and there I was, in my company’s infancy (we haven’t been here for longer than 3 years) in their presence.
Young African women need to see the power that is in our hands and excel in the areas of politics, finance, fashion, agriculture, media etc.
We the youth have the love and passion to see Africa move forward. We can destroy any structure that doesn’t represent us, and build structures that represent us.
A: As far as causes are concerned, Adiree is more so focused on developing the brands of designers because many of the brands such as Farai Simoyi British Zimbabwean designer, Korto Momolu a Liberian American designer, Kibonen | New York , Geraldo Fashions , Studio D-Maxsi and many others have their brands tied in relation to empowering women.
Therefore women empowerment, sustainability, etc. are an intentional bi-product of Adiree’s work with emerging African Designers.
Q: Finish the sentence Women Change Africa because?
A: Laughs….I love that one, Women Change Africa because “We’ve known the secrets that the world has only recently begun to discover”. African women are smart; we understand trends before they actually become trends. Women, we are so powerful, I give us a lot of credit, never underestimate the power of a woman to move mountains. It is within our emotion that gives us sensitivity to move and change policies, consider the world and not just our pockets, make us consider social ills and make changes to the world
|Photo Credit Robert Cooper (Right- Ms. Maquiah of MABM Designs, Middle- Ms. Adiat Disu, Left- Ms. Chigozie of Kachi Designs)|
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