Made in the shade: How Nubian Skin makes more inclusive fashion with G Suite
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“Nude” comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. But for Ade Hassan, finding undergarments to match her skin tone took more effort than necessary. Born in the U.K. to Nigerian parents, Hassan searched unsuccessfully for underwear and swimwear that matched her skin—a problem that continued to frustrate her through college and into her professional life.
“My nude isn’t the nude I see in shops,” Hassan says.
Like many other black entrepreneurs, she created her own solution. Hassan founded Nubian Skin, a company that sells lingerie, hosiery, and swimwear for women of color. With shades like “cafe au lait” and “berry,” Nubian Skin products reflect diverse skin tones and are sold in shops located in the U.K., Nigeria and the U.S., as well as online. Beyoncé and her dancers even asked Nubian Skin to outfit them for their 2017 “Formation” tour.
Since nearly the beginning, Hassan has used G Suite to keep her business humming. From managing meetings with retailers and manufacturers, to coordinating publicity efforts with fashion press, to keeping track of retail invoices, G Suite has helped Hassan scale her business as quickly as people have demanded her products. “There are so many pitfalls and so many things that are hard about business,” Hassan says. “It’s really amazing to have something like G Suite that is easy and intuitive.”
Nubian Skin’s fashion fame arrived seemingly overnight. When Hassan posted the company’s first campaign images, its Instagram followers jumped from 50 people to more than 20,000 in just a few weeks. “People called asking, ‘Can we have the contact for the press department?,” says Hassan. “But at the time, it was just me.” To easily handle media requests, she set up a email@example.com email address through the G Suite Admin console. And because she had used Gmail for several months before launching the company, using the business version of Gmail came naturally.
“Having that nubianskin.com address gave the business an air of professionalism, which we wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Hassan says. “Usually you need a whole IT department to set up new emails and passwords, but the Admin console removes the hassle of that process.”
Because Nubian Skin employees aren’t always in the showroom together, they need to be able to access business documents—like model photos and customer invoices—from anywhere. To help, Hassan securely stores business documents in Google Drive (which can be accessed on mobile, too) and works collaboratively with her finance team to process orders using Google Sheets. “Everyone has access to the spreadsheet so we can fill in what we need at any given point,” says Hassan. “This way, nothing slips through the cracks.” And when she needs to connect with colleagues quickly or face-to-face, she uses Hangouts Chat or Hangouts Meet. Chat makes it so employees are only a message away, and Meet helps her connect with people as if they’re in person at the office.
Five years after launching Nubian Skin, Hassan is a recognized entrepreneur who’s influenced other retailers to create more inclusive designs. “Even if you’re small, you want people to see you as a professional business,” Hassan says. “If you’re still growing, you need the building blocks to get you where you want to be. I can’t imagine working without G Suite.”