She is one of the fastest rising young designers in Africa. Her designs are so peculiar, so breathtaking, they have been featured on several world-renowned platforms as Vogue, Elle, Times U.K, Arise Magazine, Financial Times, House and Garden etc. Her creativity is so genius she has designed fabrics for reputed fashion houses like Duro Olowu, Jewel by Lisa, Virgos Lounge, and Lot78 that have been worn by the likes of Michelle Obama, Kelis, and Catt Sadler.
She is the winner of Women in the Making 2014 and one of the top 10 finalists in the She Leads Africa Entrepreneurial Showcase. She has been interviewed on Bellanaija.com, thisdaylive.com, cdnetng.org among others.
She has enjoyed so much success in young life, and with the very many active years still ahead of her, we, at Young Naija Entrepreneurs, see her attaining or even surpassing the heights of fashion legends as Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren.
Q. Can you tell us about yourself? Who is Banke Kuku?
I’m a textiles designer that is inspired by Africa. I grew up in Nigeria until I was 8 years old and then moved to England. I love art, food, and music. I love to travel and as you can imagine textiles is my passion.
Q. Where do you get inspiration for such lovely designs?
I’m inspired by Nigeria. At the moment I’m inspired by the Niger Delta which has been a running theme in my recent collections.
‘The Delta’ collection was partly inspired by the work of the photographer George Oshodi, in his collection ‘Paradise Lost’ who like me has taken his subject matter from the Niger Delta region.
I chose to explore, tangentially, the theme of the oil production and pollution in the Niger Delta, using bold patterns to bring to life an otherwise bleak theme.
The main print tries to capture the intensity of an oil spill in the Creeks, water reflecting into the sunlight. Tales by Moonlight, the secondary print, is inspired by the sight of the Delta at night: I was struck by the vision of multiple gas flares (gas wastefully is burnt or ‘flared’ by oil companies) erupting like little volcanoes against a backdrop of a pitch black Delta night-sky.
Q. There are several other talented young designers in Nigeria who are struggling to make their voices heard, how do you think you and other established designers can help them achieve their dreams?
Mentorship is really important. Throughout my design career, I have had several mentors. Mentors are there to guide you, you can learn from them and sometimes they open doors for you.
Q. People who read your biography and learn that you traveled abroad at an early age would assume you never had any challenges in business, can you share with us any challenge that you faced starting up?
Startup businesses face many challenges where ever they are based in the world. Some problems vary from country to country. As I trained as a creative designer, I found it quite hard to structure my business when I first started. I took business courses, read lots of books and got a lot of advice from my mentors.
Q. If you were not a textile designer what would you be doing?
Honestly, I don’t know! Being a textiles designer is my definition of success and my only option is to succeed.