One dressing lesson I learnt early was to either black or beige undergarments under white or transparent clothing. In my time beige was as good as it got to nude. So in the interest of good grooming and modesty beige it was. For some time now women of colour have been challenging the notion that beige is nude. How can it be nude for us, if we have a darker skin tone. Slowly, the beauty and fashion industry began to take notice. Although we are not at the point of being able to walking into any department store to find the right shade of nude for us, it’s are better. Enter Sadia Sisay, the founder beingU, the lingerie brand for women of colour. The Tiger Tales interviewed Sadia recently and this is her interview.
TTT: Tell us about yourself, the story behind beingU.
SS: I am 47, black and have lived in the UK since I was 16. I am originally from Sierra Leone. The story behind beingU is quite simple in that when my daughter was 14 I realised I did not want her grow up in a time where she did not see herself reflected in the nude experience. I started with lingerie. I wanted her and other women to feel visible and feel they had possibilities open to them. This was important to me as a woman with a daughter. She had to see me act on something I thought was missing to her. It has taken 7 years because also had to see me complete and hold true to my promise no matter haw hard it got.
TTT: What differentiates beingU from its competitors?
SS: We focus on matching and complementing skin tones as well as body shape. We are the only skin tone brand which provides different shapes of bras to include a cut and sewn piece and a fashion piece in addition to the moulded bra with briefs cut to shape the bottom. We also have the largest size range at moment from 28-44 back and B-H cups.
TTT: Has anything changed in terms of how you envisioned the brand to how it’s taken shape seven years later?
SS: In the short term definitely! There are now other nudes brands out there so it is now the time for a bigger nude conversation it seems. I have also reduced the range significantly from how I wanted to launch last time. Long term the vision stays the same and have made some strategic changes to how we enter and continue to grow in the market. We have also added our solutions range which was not part of our initial collection.
TTT: What has been the most fulfilling feedback you’ve had about your collection to date.
SS: One of many is this –‘The set fits my body so well and I want other women to experience the same comfort and confidence I have wearing beingU’.
To hear that we fit well is like music to me ears as that was the goal…to have really well fitting bras as well as the matching skin tone.
TTT: Would ever consider extending your collection to shapewear, nursing bras or training bras? If no, why?
SS: Yes. One thing I have learnt starting a lingerie company from never being in the industry is how hard it is to make bras! It is not the easiest thing to get the right shape, fit and then to provide the sizes that everyone wants at the same time and then to do ALL the other sub groups of underwear that are needed.
It is a very costly process so we aim to be a brand that women will identify with as their ‘go to’ brand for skin tone solutions but all in good time.
TTT: Where do you see beingU five years from now?
SS: My answer is very simple, still here, providing skin tone solutions, with more products, more understanding of our customers but with a more recognisable presence globally.