Layers of diversity can be seen in New York during the month of September, when it is filled with two major seasonal events that fuel the city with a distinct energy. The city is awash with an assortment of culture and class, from government officials seeking publicity and politicians jostling for attention at the United Nations General Assembly down to musical moguls and A-list screen celebrities sauntering through the streets in 20-inch heels while basking in the glitz of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Amidst all the hustle and bustle, one company, Adiat Disu & Associates (Adiree Company) LLC., found a way to fuse both distinct and usually separate crowds. Adiat Disu and Associates, a global consulting and communications firm promoting entrepreneurs, presented its Master Class “Off the Runway” with the United Nations Foundation during the fifth annual Africa Fashion Week in September.
From the welcome, to the charge, the host, and speakers the event contained insightful and knowledgeable tips for Africa’s future leaders and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Master Class “Off the Runway” is the business exchange that invests in entrepreneurs, young creatives and women in the multi-billion dollar fashion industry. The event covers five themes that center around Africa’s emerging industries through Adiree’s program, A.S.A.P (Adiree Sustains Africa Program):
1. Promoting Africa’s Growth in Style through Education & Entrepreneurship
2. Awarding & Supporting Africa’s Young Women Creative Entrepreneurs
3. Transforming Lives through Talent Grooming
4. Creating Success Stories That Inspire and Resonate Globally
5. Helping Brand Development, Business Management and Revenue Generation
The Master Class hosted seven speakers who are leaders committed to the advancement of women, entrepreneurship and/or Africa. Each featured speaker shared key tips for every entrepreneur to follow during their presentations.
The Welcome: Natalie Africa
Natalie Africa, Director of Private Sector Engagement, Every Woman Every Child, United Nations Foundation and Nkiruka Chemelu, who manages the UN Global Compact’s Africa region, welcomed guests of the evening with greetings and introductions about their work and reasons for working with Adiat Disu & Associates on the Master Class, Off the Runway.
The Charge: Adiat Disu
Adiat Disu, Director of Adiat Disu & Associates opened the session, detailing the purpose of the event. “New York, the epicenter of the Fashion World is home to some of the most innovative and creative designers -especially up-and comers. From the catwalks to the sidewalks, it is a well-known fact that if you can make it here, you’ll succeed anywhere.
However, let’s step away from the glitz and glamour of the runway, and speak economics. Fashion is vital to New York and in many fashion capitals – more than 800 fashion companies are located in New York, supporting more than 175,000 jobs and generating billions of dollars in revenue.
In 2009 – 2010, the Africa Fashion Week ‘in fashion capitals” concept ((Africa Fashion Week New York | London | Paris | Tokyo | Berlin | Milan) was created by Adiree to raise awareness about a diverse group of emerging, creative professionals and design a bridge for corporate and entrepreneurial professionals to engage with potential financial opportunities.The master class Off the Runway is our step in that direction.”
The Host: Eunice Omole
The night continued, hosted by Eunice Omole who is a success catalyst, runner up on “The Apprentice Africa” and Executive Producer of the television series “Africa’s Top 100 Entrepreneurs.” After sharing motivational and inspirational words derived from her own challenges and triumphs as a woman doing business in Nigeria (for example), Eunice introduced each speaker, allowing each speaker to delve into their area of expertise and impart their knowledge to the next generation of leaders .
A.O Solomon | Apostle of the Shadow Of the Almighty Ministries
Tip: Have faith in your vision and let it guide you to the rewards. Pray for breakthrough, and believe that you will receive it.
A. O. Solomon is a walking ministry, motivational and inspirational leader and founder of Shadow of the Almighty Ministries. Standing in front of the conference table, Solomon spoke about keeping faith in all that you do.
He pointed out how far we have come in advancements and innovation, making the audience take out their cell phones and explaining it didn’t just fall from the sky. Someone had a vision and had enough faith in it to be able to build and execute it. And today, we all need the very thing that the inventor envisioned. Mobile devices.
Bisila Bokoko | Founder Bisila Bokoko Embassy International and Bisila Bokoko Africa Literacy Project
Tip: Combine your business with a charity of interest.
Bisila Bokoko is the CEO, Founder of Bisila Bokoko Embassy International and Bisila Bokoko Africa Literacy Project. She has helped promote Pikolinos worldwide through pop-up shops that showcase the Maasai African tribe’s work. She also spoke about her philanthropy that promotes reading among African people and being able to build modern libraries in Africa. She ended on a note saying any dream can be made into a reality.
Business and Philanthropy can be combined and create new possibilities for both parties to achieve their goals. Find a charity that you’d like to work with and align your business vision, with their mission. Ensure you find ways to work with their ambassadors, whether it be through events, galas, etc.
David Tlale | Award-Winning South African Fashion Designer
Tip: Don’t be afraid to “trade with your name,” Having a self-titled brand will push you harder, and make your brand even more important to you. Hard work and dedication is the cornerstone of a thriving African [or any] luxury brand. Understand the value of your brand. Don’t be afraid to “trade with your name.”
David Tlale, award winning designer and South African fashion designer spoke about the vision he had of owning a luxury brand. He started his company by trading under his own name, honoring his vision by being authentic.
Starting small, business was challenging at times but he persevered through all the struggles. His mother didn’t want him to design clothes at first but he designed her a dress to wear to an event and she quickly supported him when she was treated like the queen at the ball with everyone asking her for the designer. Having faith in your dream and working hard with dedication is key to having a successful business.
Kithe Brewster | Celebrity Designer & Stylist
Tip: Never compromise on the hard work you put in.
Kithe Brewster is a celebrity stylist who has worked for celebrity clients such as Tyra Banks and Beyonce. Brewster spoke about how he gained his clients through the hardships he faced and still faces, like discrimination with some publications who don’t feature African designers, and how his hard work has helped him grow into a world renowned designer.
Nana Poku | CEO of CAMOG and 54 Kingdoms
Tip: Know which part of the project you are responsible for and always keep in mind what your audience wants to see on your website.
Nana Poku is the CEO and founder of 54 Kingdoms, CEO of creative and media operating group CAMOG and an assistant professor at Central Connecticut State University. Poku’s focus was IT/web development and the stages of project execution which were the pre-development, development and execution and post development.
Zandile Blay | Managing Partner BDM
Tip: Finding the story behind the company and strategically telling it to your audience.
Zandile Blay is a managing partner for BDM. Blay spoke about the story behind a company. Every story has a beginning, middle and end. Executing the story has three components to it: 1. Editorially, you have to craft your story, select the medium you want to use whether it is through blogging or social media and engage your messenger. 2. Digitally, you have to make a decision, create consistency and speak in tongues meaning changing your voice for the different platforms you are posting to. 3. Experientially, you have to know the three S’s: Set, Setting and Set it Off through execution.
Zara Okpara | PR and Media Relations Director of Fashion Design Label Lisa Folawiyo
Tip: Brand Building is about defining the purpose of the brand beyond money making.
Zara Okpara is a PR and Media Relations Director of Jewel by Lisa. During her presentation, Okpara hit on five easy PR steps that every company should follow: 1. Understand your brand, audience and market; then adapt. 2. Strategically communicate the brand’s vision and value- ensure an emotional connection 3. Quality of your presence in the market (curate your relevance, be accessible and stay relevant. 4. Brand partnerships and collaborations. 5. “Everyone is important”- people (clients, professionals, general audience)- keep friends and contacts in every business role.
Adiree Company is a media, marketing, and marketplace group reaching multicultural consumers. Every month, readers turn to content by Adiree — for impactful conversation, our marketing and it’s marketplace to engage with meaningful products. Focusing on everything from culture, lifestyle to careers, Adiree Company leverages the power of diversity and heritage to engage and empower. Adiree Company was founded in 2009 and is headquartered in New York City, with offices in Lagos Nigeria.