Customer Story

Nubian Skin: Scaling more inclusive fashion with help from Google Workspace

Ade Hassan founded Nubian Skin in 2013 to give women of color lingerie and swimwear that matches their skin tones. She runs the business on Google Workspace.

Google Workspace Results

Nubian Skin founder Ade Hassan learned how to run and grow her lingerie business for women of color using Google Workspace tools

• Using video conferencing through Google Workspace saves money that Hassan used to spend on another system
• With shared documents in Google Sheets and Google Docs, Hassan easily manages orders and retail relationships from her showroom or while traveling

Scaling more inclusive fashion with help from Google Workspace

“There are so many pitfalls and so many things that are hard about business. It’s really amazing to have productivity tools like the ones in Google Workspace that are easy and intuitive, and give you confidence rather than robbing you of it.” —Ade Hassan, Founder, Nubian Skin

When you think of “nude,” what color springs to mind? The apparel industry’s perception of nude—typically a pinky beige—wasn’t the color Ade Hassan envisioned while shopping for lingerie and bathing suits. Born in the UK to Nigerian parents, Hassan searched unsuccessfully for underwear and swimwear that matched her dark skin—a problem that continued to frustrate her through college and her career in finance. “My nude isn’t the nude I see in shops,” Hassan says.

Since Hassan didn’t see anyone solving the problem of “one-color-doesn’t-fit-all” underwear, Hassan did it herself. She founded Nubian Skin in 2013 and launched in October 2014 to sell lingerie, hosiery, and swimwear in a palette of shades—from “cafe au lait” to “berry”—that reflect the diverse skin tones of women of color. Today, Nubian Skin products sell in shops in the United Kingdom, Nigeria, and the United States, as well as online. The brand has some very prominent fans like Beyoncé and her dancers, who asked Nubian Skin to outfit them with underwear for the 2017 “Formation” tour.

From just about the first day of Nubian Skin’s launch, Hassan has used Google Workspace to manage meetings with retailers and manufacturers, stay in touch with stylists and the press, and keep track of everything from retail invoices to photoshoot images.

“There are so many pitfalls and so many things that are hard about business,” Hassan says. “It’s really amazing to have something like Google Workspace that is easy and intuitive and gives you confidence rather than robbing you of it.”

An instant press department

“Usually you would need a whole IT department to set up new emails and passwords. Google Workspace’s Admin Console removes a lot of the noise and hassle in that process.” —Ade Hassan, Founder, Nubian Skin

Hassan relied on Gmail for several months before launching Nubian Skin. She researched tools that she’d need for her new business—like email, calendars, and meeting software—and considered Oracle Cloud and GoDaddy Webmail before deciding on Google Workspace.

“Gmail is so intuitive that I thought it would make sense to choose Google Workspace for my company,” Hassan says. The step-by-step tutorials in the Google Workspace Learning Center helped Hassan learn how to use the Google Workspace Admin console for tasks like creating email addresses and setting passwords.

When Hassan sent Nubian Skin’s first professional photos to fashion media contacts, the brand quickly gained traction: Its Instagram followers jumped from 50 people to more than 20,000 in just a few weeks. Influential people like the fashion press and bloggers started to seek out Hassan.

“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 address through the Google Workspace Admin console.

“Having that address gave the business an air of professionalism, which we wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Hassan says. “Usually you would need a whole IT department to set up new emails and passwords. Google Workspace’s Admin Console removes a lot of the noise and hassle in that process.”

Meeting on the fly with retailers and manufacturers

As Hassan and Nubian Skin won positive press and sales picked up, Hassan needed to coordinate design and merchandising meetings, keep track of invoices, and manage her showroom—and do it all while traveling around the world to touch base with team members in London and Luxembourg. Calendar helped her manage her busy schedule.

“One of the most useful aspects of Google Calendar is the ability to share calendars,” says Hassan. “We have a showroom calendar and a stockers calendar that track when a certain order needs to go out, or when we’re going to be receiving a delivery from a manufacturer. That helps the team stay on the same page.”

Hassan can start meetings from anywhere—even using her smartphone—with Google Meet and Google Calendar. The meeting and calendar apps became crucial business tools once Hassan began adding employees in 2015—she now has three people working for her in London and a team member based in Luxembourg. She and her teammates can conduct face-to-face video Meet, or simply dial in if they’re walking or driving.

Photoshoot images at their fingertips

Because Hassan and her employees may often be running to meetings outside of their office, they need important business documents at their fingertips anywhere they happen to be. As Hassan gathered more images of Nubian Skin products and model photoshoots, she realized she could save them in Drive and access them in the Drive mobile app. That way, she can find and send images to fashion journalists or retailers at a moment’s notice.

With Sheets, Hassan and her team stay current with retail orders. She created a spreadsheet with addresses, orders, and invoices for every retailer ordering Nubian Skin products. “Everyone on my team 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.”

In demand, influential, and still growing

Five years after launching Nubian Skin, Hassan is a recognized entrepreneur who’s influenced other retailers to create more inclusive designs. In 2017, she was awarded an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for her services to fashion in the United Kingdom. Even with that experience under her belt, she’s still learning about growing a business, and looks at Google Workspace as a partner.

“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’ve learned so much about business through Google Workspace—I can’t imagine working without it.”

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*Google Workspace was formerly known as G Suite prior to Oct. 6, 2020.