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Meet: Samuel Ade

Man in yellow blazor, wearing a hat and looking into the camera
  • Written byEleanor Harvey
  • Published date 24 March 2021
Man in yellow blazor, wearing a hat and looking into the camera
Samuel Ade

Samuel Ade has been incredibly busy since graduating from Central Saint Martins, UAL in 2012. He’s set up a youth-led enterprise, joined the Board of the parent charity and started a design and branding company. His most recent venture is the recently launched Ilana, which is both a store for Black-owned fashion brands and a platform for fashion designers to gain expertise, connect and collaborate. “Ilana means pathway in Yoruba, and that‘s exactly what we exist to do”, says Samuel, “creating a pathway for emerging talent". We recently spoke to Samuel about his time at Central Saint Martins (CSM), and to find out more about Ilana.

Why did you decide to study BA graphic Design at Central Saint Martins? What was your time at CSM like?

Since I was a child I desired to go in the arts, I originally wanted to become an illustrator for Walt Disney and when I mentioned that to my Dad, he said the best university to go for that to become a reality was CSM because it was the best art school in the world and that was the motivation I needed. However as I got older I gravitated more to Graphic Design because of the transferrable skills you pick up. My time there was amazing, the calibre of students you're surrounded around really push you to be the best you can be.

You also studied at London College of Communication. What were the similarities and differences between the two colleges?

My time studying at London College of Communication was intense, it felt like all I did was work on assignments during that year. However I did enjoy my time there, our class was small, which made it easier for us to bond and get more hands-on support from the tutors. I remember the emphasis that my tutor put on how hard it was to get into CSM, he was tough and really pushed us to create great work. The atmosphere of LCC and the old CSM building was similar, however, CSM did feel more collaborative especially in the Holborn site.

Has your time at CSM and LCC had any influence on your career since graduating? If so, how?

Most definitely, CSM really emphasises the importance of great ideas, it's part of their DNA. It's that thinking I take into business, providing the foundation that allows me to approach business differently and creatively. Also having a degree in Graphic Design and skills in Adobe software really helps with branding my different businesses rather than outsourcing that work.

Two women and a man stood in front of a doorway
Courtesy of Ilana

What have you been up to since you graduated?

Upon graduating I continued working for a youth-led Social Enterprise I co-founded called HustleBucks and eventually joined the board of the parent charity, 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning. I also started offering Design and Branding services to SME's through a design company I started called We Are Grounded. I then went on to set up DESC (Developing Entrepreneurial Services and Communities), a marketplace for entrepreneurs to find co-working space locally, quickly and affordably and most recently I started Ilana, a store for luxury fashion brands and a platform for fashion designers to gain expertise.

Can you tell us more about Ilana?

Ilana sells luxury clothing from premium black brands and offers a community for fashion designers to join and receive free fashion consulting on their garment life cycle through a simple four-stage process. Once a designer joins the community they are partnered with a fashion expert who will offer feedback on images of their sketches, CAD design, toile, samples and final collections. Helping designers regardless of their background gain the vital knowledge to start and scale their own clothing brands. Creating a pathway for emerging talent.

A woman and a man wearing t-shirts that say Ilana on the front
Bobby and Sam

How can people get involved in the Ilana community?

Yes! If you're a fashion designer in need of consulting or just like constant feedback on your designs then you can join our community, connect with other designers and get ongoing support. If you're a fashion designer with industry or academic experience, you're welcome to join our community as a Consultant to help support and nurture emerging talent.

What are your plans for the future of Ilana?

Our focus is growing both our store and community. On the store side, we aim to diversify our product offering to include premium black brands based in Europe and America, raise capital, improve our store and get more exposure. In the community, we hope to have at least 200 designers by the end of summer benefiting from our platform and getting feedback on their collections.  We believe what we've built can and will change the landscape of fashion.

Find out more about Ilana and how you can get involved in their online community:

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