Black entrepreneurs are emerging in every corner of the world and the United Kingdom is no exception. Black businesses have contributed immensely to the growth of the UK economy.
A report says businesses operated by entrepreneurs from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds contribute as much as £25 billion to the UK economy.
In spite of their impact, they continue to face structural and cultural challenges that affect the growth of their businesses. In this article, we highlight the entrepreneurial journey of seven Black UK entrepreneurs in the fashion industry who started their own clothing brands and need all the support.
No Jeans Club
Krystina Mhlandhla launched her clothing brand during the pandemic in 2020, focusing mainly on women. She started the brand over her inability to find comfortable clothing that fitted well without looking baggy.
If she did, she added, it was pink or cropped which gives off the impression that girls are limited to one colour.
“So I found a gap in the market and thought to make something for women,” the 23-year-old told Birmingham Mail. “But after the first day I launched, I got a lot of customers that were male and from that day forward I make my brand unisex.”
April & Alex
April & Alex is a London-based womenswear company started by British journalist Didi Akin. The award-winning was built on the principles of slow fashion and diversity. The brand has kitted out celebrities like Kelly Clarkson, Lucy Hale and Lyric Ross.
Take Risks and Prosper UK
In 2016, Armani started Take Risks and Prosper UK, a streetwear brand that makes t-shirts, hats, tracksuits gloves, and baby coats. He started the brand while chasing his vision to become an entrepreneur.
“Everything that every other streetwear brand does we do it but I believe we offer something different,” he told Birmingham Mail.
Maison Bent was founded by Shanna Bent, an alumna of Central Saint Martins. She specializes in luxury womenswear. According to Country and Town House, she describes her work as “combining vintage Caribbean aesthetics with modern glamour.”
Remy first came to the UK in 2007 from Congo and settled at Aston. Now 25, Remy is the founder of luxury modern streetwear Philippé Remy, a brand he named after his father and late mother.
Remy started his fashion company from his bedroom with only $400. He was told to quit his business and focus on education. He remained unfazed by all the criticism and today, he owns a fashion brand.
According to Remy, he was inspired to start his fashion brand while watching the BET awards. He noted that watching people who looked like him get awarded for their achievements made him realize that he can also aim for greatness in any field of endeavor.
Trai Dewar-Jackson, 23, from Smethwick, started Ninth ‘009’ following the demise of his aunty. According to him, his aunty used to support his mother with the bills. He revealed that the passing away of his aunty put his mom into debt.
He, therefore, used his brand to help his mother pay off the debt and dedicated it to her.
“The pieces of clothing are inspired from real-life experiences and real-life stories, so everything that is designed, cut and worn has come from an experience that myself or someone in the team has experienced,” he said. “As the founder of this brand, everything in my life has been about storytelling and I do that through my clothing.”
The brand was founded by award-winning designer and creative director Bianca Saunders. “Taking inspiration from her British and Jamaican background, the brand approaches design with a multi-disciplinary attitude that brings cross-cultural references into a modern and reinvigorated evolution of menswear,” its website says.
One year after it was launched, the brand was selected by the British Fashion Council as ‘One To Watch’ in 2018. It later won The 32nd Andam Grand Prix Fashion Award in 2021.