Overachiever Interview Series
Get to Know Adiat Disu
Adiat Disu is definitely not your average twenty-something your old. It began in college during her undergraduate studies, while most undergraduate students were occupied by every day demands from school, Adiat Disu decided to add building a fashion startup to her extracurricular activities.
While in the midst of earning her undergraduate degree, she saw an opportunity to combine her talents and passions and jumped immediately into business. In 2009 she began the branding and communications firm Adiree Communications and PR , and retail platform Adiree (which comes from the word Adire (Yoruba: tie and dye) a textile, indigo-dyed cloth made in southwestern Nigeria by Yoruba women, using a variety of resist-dyeing techniques ). In 2010 (at the age of 21) When she saw there wasn’t a platform allowing fashion from Africa, to be accessible and relatable she launched the Africa Fashion Week (in fashion capitals concept). She wanted to influence consumers to buy and patronize brands from Africa, but she knew before doing so, consumer’s perception of Africa must change. She immediately combined her education, retail experience as an allocation analyst at TJX inc, and tech and operations skills from IBM to launch platforms that would do so.
Adiat has accomplished so much. In fact, in the first few years of business her company landed a contract with USAID and triggered media awareness over fashion from Africa—including being featured as Forbes 30 Under 30, highlighted as a young inspiring African business woman during a two hour special on CNN International , and a two page spread in Black Enterprise as an Every day hero, and—but still remains incredibly down to earth (and admits to be social awkward at times….oops).
Name: Adiat Disu
Current title/company: Founder and owner of Adiree, a multi- platform communications firm and a conscious cultural e-commerce platform as well as Africa Fashion Week,
Education: Bachelor’s in Information Technology from Bentley University; Double Minor in Information Design & Corporate Communications and Marketing.
Catwalk Down Memory Lane :
If you follow Africa’s growing influence on global style, you’ll likely encounter this amazing concept of Africa Fashion Week in established and recognizable fashion capitals; New York, London, Paris, Milan, Berlin, Tokyo.
The concept birthed by Ms. Adiat Disu in 2009, who is a relentless entrepreneur, multicultural business and brand builder, as well as the founder of several companies in media and fashion changing the narrative about Africa—her presence synonymous with African fashion, development, and the “new luxury.”
Her firm Adiree Communications (www.communications.adiree.com) , the luxury group promoting and developing globally-appealing brands, has become a regular host of the New York edition of Africa Fashion Week , a staple since 2009.
While most people connect Ms. Disu to African fashion (runway shows and fashion showcases), this young woman reveals her business and purpose-driven mind.
Having Social & Economic Impact :
EPO: What does social impact mean to startup founders like yourself?
Social impact to Adiat meant “creating platforms that allowed Africa-made or inspired brands from home to be patronized globally.” She states “in 2009, the perception of made in Africa products and fashion was quite narrow and limited to dashiki’s and/or aid initiative campaigns.
Adiat took a different approach, creating media magnetic campaigns that elevated global consumers perception of fashion inspired by Africa.”
Adiat further states, “Social impact and fashion is often times looked at narrowly in terms of production and its environmental impact. When designers from Africa have the opportunity to brand and engage in business activities globally (such as e commerce or retail i.e. pop up shops) it impacts their bottom line thus creating jobs back home. ”
Building Startups and Creatives in Fashion :
EPO: What is your biggest accomplishment thus far?
“I love hearing stories of designers from Africa who have utilized their showcase on our international platform to increase their credibility locally, therefore increasing their sales,” Adiat explains. I also love connecting with each designer and assisting in building their businesses in other ways (i.e. developing their website, managing social media, or helping them to communicate their stories effectively).
In addition to successfully assisting designers, her accomplishments include the powerful and strategic move of the African inspired runway events to New York Fashion Week, this past season, as well as the acquisition and development of www.AfricaFashionWeek.com, to further grow the vision she has for the industry—a bold move for a young visionary.
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.”
Having Integrity above all else:
The Africa Fashion Week ‘in fashion capitals” concept 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.
Africa Fashion Week (www.AfricaFashionWeek.com) is not to be confused with South Africa Fashion Week and Arise Africa Fashion Week. Africa Fashion Week is held every year in September, at the Broad Street Ballroom.
In 2009 Africa Fashion Week (in fashion capitals) concept was founded by and originally produced by @Adireé, partners and sponsors to bring Africa’s designers to the forefront of fashion capitals– beginning with New York. After the success of Africa Fashion Week, New York a proliferation of other Africa Fashion Week(s), not produced by Adiree has occurred.
Adiat exclaims, “designers are priority and we are constantly requesting feedback from each to ensure that we’re doing what is best for them and not getting caught up in just having runways shows or being see.” Constantly evaluating our why, to ensure we have impact, is important. And providing a platform where underexposed designers can be seen and sell, is the the simplest form of my why. ”
In 2010, Mayor Bloomberg in 2010, gave Adiree an official proclamation for AfricaFashionWeek deeming a their showcase in New York “Africa Fashion Week.”
The power, impact, and global influence of Adiat’s idea to integrate Africa into the fashion calendar is nothing short of amazing and we will continue to follow and watch this overachiever’s ongoing transformation and global impact on Africa’s local talents.
Want to get to know more about this overachiever? Watch a few videos of her work below:
CNN – Special Edition of CNN International
Arise – Our Take – “Sustainability, Luxury, African Fashion”
Arise News – New York Fashion Week Africa , Empowerment Through Fashion, Jill Biden Wears Fashion Inspired By Africa
CCTV – Adiat Disu Associates x United Nations Foundation Take on Fashion & Creative Startups
Arise Entertainment 360 – Exclusive Preview with Adiat, Post New York Africa Fashion Week
VOA News – Africa Fashion on A Global Stage
Adiree Luxury Africa Fashion Pop Up Shop