Women Who Inspire: Autumn Adeigbo
Autumn Adeigbo designs colorful, fashion-forward clothing for women who like to stand out in a crowd. As a proud, Black female business owner, Autumn is devoted to positively impacting the lives of women across cultures by utilizing female-owned production facilities in the U.S., and providing global artisans with meaningful employment and fair wages. From sourcing to delivery, Autumn embraces sustainable practices by purchasing in limited quantity and producing only what is ordered, minimizing fabric waste, excessive manufacturing, and surplus stock. Which means, her collections are eco-friendly and exclusive.
Voted “Best Dressed” in the 4th grade, Autumn was inspired by her Nigerian mother, who made all of Autumn’s clothes as a young girl. After graduating with a degree in Economics from Spelman College, and one in Fashion Design from the famed Parsons School of Design, Autumn worked her way up from intern to associate assisting top fashion stylists like Andrea Lieberman, Leslie Fremar, and Rebecca Weinberg. She launched her first collection of seven African-inspired dresses while working days as a fashion assistant at W Magazine and nights as a hostess at NYC hot spots where she made connections and pitched her designs to magazine editors as she sat them at their tables.
After being named "Fashion's Next” by Essence magazine, "One To Watch"; by MarieClaire, and "All Eyes On", by Uptown magazine, Autumn's collection went on to be featured in publications like Vogue, EBONY, ESSENCE, Glamour, and Nylon, and on MTV, BET, VH1, and OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). In 2015, Autumn began sharing her entrepreneurial journey via a bi-weekly column for Forbes, followed by contributions to INC magazine and Fast Company, and in 2019, she was selected a Tory Burch fellow. She is also a winner of the New York Public Library and Citibank annual business plan competition, a Global Good Fund fellow, and WEALF recipient. She’s launched four fair-trade fashion production pilots in Africa and has been a featured speaker at The World Bank, Capital One, The New York Public Library, and The Fashion Institute of Technology. She sits on the Parsons School of Design Reunion Committee.
When she’s not working, Autumn listens to hip hop, practices yoga, exercises, does her best to learn about food and eating healthy, studies astrology, and loves to spend quality time with her dog Tuesday. Autumn and Tuesday just moved to Los Angeles after almost 20 years in Manhattan.
Q&A with Autumn
Where did your love of getting dressed come from?
I was inspired by my Nigerian mother, who made a lot of my clothes as a young girl. Because of her, I was voted “Best Dressed” in the 4th grade.
How did you begin your fashion career and what advice would you have for others who are looking to go into the fashion industry?
I built a strong foundation with an economics degree from Spelman College and then a fashion design degree from Parsons. I worked my way up in the industry, learning from jobs in retail, sales, celebrity styling, wholesale and publicity, as well as a production internship with Betsy Johnson. When I started my brand, the only thing I didn’t have any experience with was designing, but my foundation was so strong from all of my experience that I felt confident enough to move forward and teach myself design. My advice is to get as much experience as you can so you can feel confident in what you bring to the marketplace. It’s also important that whatever you do bring to the marketplace is original.
Who has inspired you and helped shape you into the (amazing) businesswoman you are now?
As a girl, I loved designers like Karl Kani, Cross Colours, and of course my mother! In my teens I was obsessed with designers like Donna Karan of DKNY, and Tommy Hilfiger. In my professional life I learned so much from women like Betsy Johnson, Anna Sui, Andrea Lieberman, Leslie Fremar, Rebecca Weinberg and Tory Burch. These women are titans of their industry, and they helped show me the path that led to where I am now. Also women like Sonja Perkins, Brit Morin, Leah Solivan, all of whom have mentored me about the business of things. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.
You have seen some amazing successes. You were the first Black woman to raise $1M in capital for a fashion brand, you've been featuring in Vogue and styled many A-list celebrities. If you had to pick one thing...what would you say has been the key to your success?
Faith followed by persistence, in my experience you can’t have one without the other.
How does fashion empower you and what are some of the ways you are using it to empower others?
Fashion is such an amazing point of expression for who you are or even how you are feeling that day. It can spark conversations and build community. It can make it easy for someone to look at you and see what is important to you, what your values are. My goal is always to give women the confidence to feel like they can wear beautiful artistic pieces that make them feel powerful and beautiful.
How is your brand working to support women and fair wages?
We are very proud to work exclusively with women-owned factories in the USA and India, providing global artisans with meaningful employment and fair wages. From sourcing to delivery, we embrace sustainable practices by purchasing in limited quantities and producing only what is ordered, minimizing fabric waste, excessive manufacturing, and surplus stock. Which means, collections that are eco-friendly and exclusive.
How would you describe your personal style? Where do you find your inspiration from, and where does your love of color originate from?
I would describe my personal style as mercurial. I change outfits at like 2-3 times a day, but I’m consistent in my love of colorful and conversational clothes that stand out. I also love classic silhouettes, so I choose fabrics that make the clothes stand out. As for my love of color, I think you’re either a color person or you aren’t. I like things that catch the eye--color can offer so much joy.
Do fashion trends play a role in your designs?
Yes, our tagline is culture, color conscience. This is the culture. It’s the trends (global, local, urban, rural). I love to travel and soak up the areas I’m in to see how people are living. Spending so much time in NY gave me that cultural sensibility and now I’m learning what the LA lifestyle is like. I’m excited to start incorporating that style into my collections.
How do you define success?
I’m a Christian so for me first and foremost is having a really strong relationship with God through Jesus. After that it would have to be creating a positive family environment. I think it’s important to find a job or a monetary lifepath that you find fulfilling, rewarding, challenging and that makes you happy. And finally, giving back. I always want to feel like I’m contributing to the world and making a difference.