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The Business of Fashion: Navigating Entrepreneurship as a Nigeria Designer


Do you want to see your fashion brand thrive and expand? Banke Kuku will reveal the key to achieving sustainable growth and collaboration in the Nigerian fashion industry. Learn how to take your brand to the next level and foster industry-wide cooperation for success.

  • Discover how sustainable practices can revolutionize your fashion brand in Nigeria.
  • Learn the secrets to successful collaboration in the Nigerian fashion industry.
  • Explore the creative process behind fashion design and its impact on industry growth.
  • Uncover the importance of overcoming challenges in the Nigerian fashion industry.
  • Unlock the potential for growth and success in the Nigerian fashion industry through strategic insights.

In this episode of the Third Culture Africans podcast, Banke Kuku, a renowned fashion designer and founder of the brand Bankรฉ Cuku, shares her journey in the fashion industry, discussing challenges, growth strategies, and the future of Nigerian fashion. Banke’s experience working with the Designers Guild and her focus on sustainability and collaboration provide valuable insights for fashion entrepreneurs in Nigeria.

She emphasizes the importance of industry experience, scalability, and adapting to local markets. From her reflections on the challenges of the lockdown period to her commitment to maintaining high standards and sustainability, Banke’s story offers inspiration and practical advice for aspiring designers and entrepreneurs looking to grow their brands in Nigeria’s fashion industry. Her optimism and determination to create a sustainable and thriving industry make this episode a must-listen for fashion enthusiasts and entrepreneurs seeking to navigate the complexities of the Nigerian fashion landscape.

In this episode of the Third Culture Africans podcast, renowned fashion designer Banke Kuku, founder of the brand Bankรฉ Cuku, offers valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities within the Nigerian fashion industry. With a wealth of experience, including her work with the Designers Guild, Banke discusses the importance of industry experience, scalability, and sustainability. She shares her journey, from navigating the challenges of the lockdown period to her commitment to maintaining high standards and sustainability in her brand.

Her optimism and determination to create a thriving industry make this episode essential listening for fashion enthusiasts and entrepreneurs seeking to navigate and contribute to the growth of the Nigerian fashion landscape. Banke’s practical advice and inspirational journey provide valuable takeaways for those looking to make their mark in the industry.

Success is fulfillment and feeling fulfilled within yourself and being able to share that fulfillment with the people around you.Banke Kuku

About Banke Kuku

Banke Kuku, a graduate from Central St. Martin’s Chelsea College of Art and Design with a bachelor’s degree in textiles, is renowned for her iconic fashion house and interiors. Her work has been showcased at prestigious venues such as Buckingham Palace and the Designers Guild, solidifying her reputation as a leading figure in the industry. Kuku’s innovative approach to incorporating African-inspired patterns and designs into luxurious fabrics like silk has set her apart, making her a trailblazer in the Nigerian fashion scene. With a wealth of experience and a keen eye for sustainable practices, Kuku is an invaluable source of insight and inspiration for fashion designers and entrepreneurs looking to grow their brands in Nigeria.

Timestamped summary of this episode:

00:00:00 – Introduction to Banke Kuku’s Career ๐ŸŽ™๏ธ
Banke Kuku is introduced as a renowned graduate from Central St. Martin’s Chelsea College of Art and Design. She has a strong background in textiles and has made a name for herself in the fashion and interior design industry.
00:02:28 – Early Career and Passion for Fashion ๐Ÿ‘—
Banke Kuku discusses her early passion for creativity and her journey towards pursuing a career in the fashion industry. She shares her uncertainty about which path to take within the fashion world and the pivotal moment that led her to pursue textiles as her primary focus.
00:07:10 – Transitioning to Entrepreneurship ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿพโ€๐Ÿ’ผ
Banke Kuku talks about her transition from working for other fashion brands to starting her own business. She highlights the challenges of balancing freelancing with a full-time job and the organic way in which she began creating her own fashion pieces, particularly the iconic pajamas.
00:11:20 – Setting Up a Store and Business Growth ๐Ÿ“ˆ
Banke Kuku explains her decision to open her own store in Lagos, Nigeria, and the evolution of her business from offering cushions and scarves to creating her own fashion collections. She reflects on the challenges and opportunities that come with running a fashion business in both Nigeria and the UK.
00:14:47 – Industry Experience and Coping with Copycats ๐Ÿง‘๐Ÿพโ€๐ŸŽจ
Banke Kuku shares her experiences working with renowned brands, such as Burberry and the Designers Guild. She also discusses the challenges of dealing with copy
00:15:36 – Early Industry Experience ๐Ÿ“Š
Banke discusses the importance of gaining industry experience early on and how it helped her in her current work. She also talks about the challenges of scaling her business and how she navigated them during lockdown.
00:18:22 – Building Relationships ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿพโ€๐Ÿคโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿฝ
Banke shares how she built relationships with manufacturers and retailers, including her experience with a pop-up collaboration at Selfridges. She also talks about the challenges of language barriers when dealing with international partners.
00:23:51 – Leveraging Social Media ๐Ÿ“ฑ
Banke discusses the impact of lockdown on her business and how she leveraged social media to connect with her customers. She also shares her experience with live shopping events and the importance of engaging with her “Cuckoo tribe” online.
00:28:42 – The Journey to Success ๐Ÿš—
Banke reflects on the misconception of overnight success and shares her 15-year journey in the fashion industry. She emphasizes the importance of perseverance and patience in building a successful business.
00:30:31 – Creative Entrepreneurship ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿพโ€๐ŸŽจ
Banke discusses the challenges of being a creative in a business-driven industry like fashion. She highlights the difference between being a great designer and running a successful business, emphasizing the importance of business acumen in entrepreneurship.
00:31:14 – Learning and Growth in Business ๐Ÿ“Š
Banke Kuku discusses her approach to business, including identifying her weaknesses, taking courses, and learning from experience. She emphasizes the importance of keeping the business growing and not doing things that can’t be afforded.
00:32:05 – Ambitious Goals ๐Ÿข
Kuku expresses her desire for continued growth in her business, stating that the sky’s the limit for her ambitions.
00:35:12 – Personal Growth ๐Ÿ“ˆ
Kuku reflects on her personal growth, highlighting that she has become more patient and less prone to panic in the face of challenges.
00:36:45 – Portraying Africa in Fashion ๐ŸŒ
Kuku discusses the importance of maintaining the quality and sophistication of African design in her brand, highlighting the use of high-quality fabrics and creating products that showcase a different side of African fashion.
00:43:40 – Sustainable Fashion Practices ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿพโ€โ™€๏ธ
Kuku explains her brand’s approach to sustainability, including the creation of evergreen collections, setting trends, and using a preorder system to manage customer demand and production challenges.
00:48:37 – Challenges in the Nigerian fashion industry ๐Ÿ“Š
Banke Kuku discusses the individualistic approach to fashion design in Nigeria and the challenges of contract manufacturing due to high costs and infrastructure issues.
00:49:30 – Barriers to local production ๐Œ‰
Banke highlights the high cost of local production in Nigeria due to issues with electricity and water supply, making it more expensive to source materials locally than abroad.
00:50:29 – Growth of the African fashion industry ๐Ÿ“ˆ
Banke shares her hopes for the African fashion industry, emphasizing the need to build a sustainable industry where local manufacturing is seamless and exportation is the norm.
00:51:27 – Creative process and product development ๐Ÿข
Banke discusses the constant creative process in her mind, revealing that only 50% of her ideas make it to production, with the remaining 50% being stored for future development.
00:53:13 – Business expansion and future plans ๐Ÿ”ฎ
Banke announces the expansion of her store and the launch of a new collection for Christmas, signaling the growth and success of her fashion brand, as well as her continued commitment to providing high-quality products.

Connect with Banke Kuku:

  • Follow Banke Kuku on Instagram at @bankekuku for updates on the new collection and store expansion.
  • Visit Banke Kuku’s store in Lagos, Nigeria to shop the new collection and experience the expanded space.
  • Stay tuned for the grand opening of the expanded store to explore the new offerings and shop for Christmas.
  • Check out Banke Kuku’s website for more information on the brand, collections, and upcoming events.
  • Keep an eye out for the latest designs and products from Banke Kuku, available for purchase in-store and online.


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Episode 64