(NEW YORK) — When Temidayo Adedokun became pregnant with her first child, like many new moms, she said she was excited to start shopping for baby clothes.
Adedokun, 31, who was born in Nigeria and then moved to Canada at 4, said she wanted to find baby clothes with traditional African prints that she grew up wearing. But when she searched, she said she found nothing.
“I was super surprised that I couldn’t find affordably priced African aesthetic products that were designed from an authentic place,” Adedokun said. “And I really thought that was an important thing that a lot of people would want for their children as well.”
Adedokun said she then decided to make her own version of the clothes she was searching for her future son.
“At first, it was okay, let’s see what I can do to kind of create it for myself,” Adedokun said. “For my son, I created these onesies that had animal prints on them and put them on a website to see what happened. And there was enough feedback there that I thought, ‘Okay, I think people do care about this.”’
Adedokun said she figured she would make the baby clothes a side hustle to her full-time position as an attorney at an Oakland law firm.
Then at the onset of the pandemic. she received a call telling her she had been placed on furlough at the law firm, she said.
That’s when she said she decided to start her own company.
“I had to evaluate: What, am I going to try and go search for another job that I don’t have a lot of passion for? Or am I going to take this as a chance to risk everything and kind of bet on myself,” Adedokun said. “I choose the latter.”
And so she launched her company Ade + Ayo. The first part of the name, Ade, comes from her last name and means “crown” in the Yoruba language. The second part, Ayo, comes from her first name and means “joy” in Yoruba — a theme in her family with all of her siblings also having “ayo” in their names as well.
“I really wanted to touch on the theme of pride,” Adedokun said. “One of my goals with the brand is to help children grow up with pride with their heritage … and that children are the pride and joy of their parents’ lives.”
Since the company was founded in 2020, Adedokun said she has gotten feedback from parents saying its allowed them to show their children their heritage, but also — for parents who aren’t of African descent — they say the clothes have helped them teach their children about a new culture, she said.
“It’s really allowing the parents to start having conversations about being open to different things, and about learning,” Adedokun said. “On my product listings on the website, I go into quite a bit of detail about prints’ names, and the inspiration for the design, what region it comes from, and so people can kind of take that and start having conversations with their kids about what they’re wearing.”
Adedokun said that she sees the original inspiration for the company when her son wears the Nigerian-themed clothing.
“We also are very proud people like it’s important to us to be proud of what we do, and the work that we do, and the ways that we affect lives around us,” Adedokun said. “Knowing that I was going to be raising a Black boy in America, I thought it was important for him to have something you could come back to and know that he was worthy … that he could be proud of.”
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