By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
When working as a buyer for a lab supply company in 2013, Addie Elabor grew increasingly unhappy with her career. She needed a change.
During this time, she and a friend reflected on how African print clothing was becoming more popular in fashion. Elabor realized there was not a leading clothing brand for this style that offered garments for both men and women. There was also no business that allowed customers to shop online for African print style clothing.
Although she did not have a background in fashion, she did have a degree in international business and marketing, so she researched how to start a fashion company. In 2014, Elabor used her savings to start D’IYANU, a ready-to-wear bold print clothing line that offers quality, trendy African-inspired fashion at affordable prices.
“I was really excited because I just saw that it was a huge opportunity to establish ready-to-wear modern, trendy clothing that people my age and people who are interested in representing their roots could wear on a day-to-day basis,” said Elabor.
“D’IYANU” loosely translates to “of or from something wonderful,” and Elabor chose that name to remind customers that they are made from something wonderful so they should dress to reflect that.
She launched with six products for women, but now the company sells men’s and children’s products as well. The clothing ranges from formal wear to athleisure and can be shipped nationwide and internationally. All of the prints featured on the clothing are original to D’IYANU.
In its first year, D’IYANU was profitable, which is uncommon for most businesses. Elabor attributed this feat to her taking a course about creating Facebook advertisements, which helped her to attract an audience quickly.
Elabor’s brother, Dara, joined her in 2016 to serve as president and partner for D’IYANU, and she said his support has been invaluable to the company’s growth over the years. As of last year, D’IYANU had a revenue of $6.5 million.
“Revenue wise, we have grown tremendously over the past couple of years,” said Elabor. “Last year was our biggest year of sales actually, in spite of the pandemic.”
When COVID-19 shut down the country in March, D’IYANU first saw a drop in it’s sales. However, Elabor quickly pivoted to manufacturing masks, which helped the business exit its slump and attract more customers to its core products.
Giving back to Black and African communities has been paramount to Elabor in running D’IYANU. Since its second year of operation, she has donated a portion of the business’ revenue to organizations that provide access to clean water in remote African villages and provide healthcare to West African countries. Last year, she also donated 20,000 masks to organizations that were helping communities battle COVID-19.
In the ensuing years, Elabor wants to have an even bigger impact in the Black and African community. She hopes to partner with factories in Ghana to manufacture the fabrics and produce the clothing for D’IYANU.
“What we’re doing here is very unique compared to any other brand out there we are creating products that help empower African Americans and the Black population to feel connected to their roots,” said Elabor. “We are celebrating the beauty of Africa through the prints.”
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