When Autumn Adeigbo was a little girl, she enjoyed wearing the beautiful dresses her mom made her and was even voted best dressed in the fourth grade. However, while she always enjoyed and had an eye for fashion, she didn’t view it as an accessible career path. She graduated from undergrad with a degree in economics, but decided to pivot and pursue her passion. She enrolled in Parsons School of Design where she obtained a degree in fashion design, then she worked her way up from intern to associate working under top A-List fashion stylists in Hollywood.
“Traditionally, in Nigerian households, you become a lawyer or doctor but luckily my parents aren’t the traditional mold in terms of strongly holding me into what they thought I should do, and were supportive of me pursuing what I wanted to pursue,” says the fashion designer.
Autumn successfully built a sustainable powerhouse brand that empowers women around the world by making connections that allowed her to secure funding. She is the 36th Black woman to raise $1M in venture capital for a company and the first Black woman to raise $1M in venture capital for a fashion brand, which she pulled off at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’ve created an aesthetic that isn’t widely understood or distributed globally. I think we have an ethos that is based on diversity and women empowerment and leadership, positive work culture with a positive work-life balance that’s definitely not seen in employers at large but really lacking in the fashion industry, so I want to build one of the next great American fashion brands,” says Autumn.
Autumn’s award-winning womenswear started with a seven-piece collection that donated 5% of sales to West African Women’s micro-entrepreneurship programs. It is now sold in Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom, Intermix, Shopbop, Rent The Runway, Anthropologie, and Tory Burch, and has been featured on Kerry Washington, Mila Kunis, Gabrielle Union, and more.
The short of it is, you really need to replay Autumn’s webinar interview titled How to Build a Successful Fashion Brand in 2022, where she talked about how she built her empire:
Here are a few gems from that discussion:
I was 19 the first time I sewed. I was on a break from Spelman and this was before social media, thank God, because I had the wherewithal to put my phone down and I took up sewing. I sewed a skirt, and my mom sat with me, took me to Joann Fabrics, and helped me pick out the fabric I was going to use, then I learned how to properly sew at Parsons. I’m not good at it but that was the first time I learned all the specifics of sewing.
I discovered my brand identity at parsons by going to the fabric stores in the garment district, and I was always just attracted to the printed fabrics and that’s because the dresses my mom used to make for me as a little girl were always beautiful printed little dresses so I still remember the first beautiful dress that I sewed at parsons and it’s very much what my brand is today, printed cotton textures, leather piping and binding, all of those elements coming together to tell an artistic story and I’ve stayed with that aesthetic since my early days at Parsons.
In terms of adversities I faced I knew that I was in an uphill battle in terms of having the capital to start my fashion brand. I knew it was expensive to start a fashion brand but I didn't realize how much so it took quite a long time for me to understand how to write a proper business plan, understand how to write a proper pitch deck, and to build a network of people who believed in what I was creating enough to fund it. So access to capital for women is staggeringly low compared to men and when you layer in being a minority and a black woman on top of that it's like 0.2% who are women of color so the toughest thing I had to face was getting access to capital.
Watch the webinar replay? Click here.
Learn more about Autumn? Click here.
We’ll see you soon with more great content!