There's no better time than Black History Month to make some boss moves in an African print power outfit. Addie Olutola, the founder of a ready-to-wear, African-inspired fashion brand, champions relentless boldness and seeks to inspire women to draw strength from their distinct stories. Her business, D’IYANU, embodies this mantra as it encourages self-expression through its bold prints and unique pieces. 

From the music festival to the office, Olutola believes that culturally-conscious fashion should be found in all areas of life. She hopes that wearing prints in tune to the rich cultures of Africa will one day be as common as the classic pencil skirt.

In this article, she discusses how the love of her culture empowered her to launch a business and shares her wisdom on how you can make your next bold move. 

Samantha Simunyu: Tell us about the early stages of D'IYANU. What was exciting and what made you fearful?

Addie Olutola: I launched D'IYANU with the thought that it would be successful. I was actually more fearful to stay at my 9-5 and be miserable than to step out and work on my business full-time. I was excited not fearful. The fashion business is tough and very competitive, but I knew something was brewing in my heart. Since launching, I’ve never looked back, and I’m thankful for the joys and challenges that have led to my growth. 

SS: Define D’IYANU. How is this meaning incorporated into every collection? 

AD: The “D’” means “of” or “from“ in French, while “IYANU” means “miracle” or “wonderful” in the Nigerian language, Yoruba. The literal translation is “of or from [something] wonderful” reminding everyone that they’re uniquely and wonderfully made and to dress like it. The blending of the two languages also signifies the blending of the two cultures which define our brand and every collection: African and western. Our ability to merge these seemingly opposing worlds is truly miraculous.

SS: What are some practical ways to incorporate African culture into your everyday life? How did this concept influence D’IYANU’s new Black History Month (BHM) collection? 

AO: African culture can easily be incorporated today in everyday life from clothing, bags and accessories, art, furniture, and you name it. It’s really up to you to select how you would like to incorporate it into your life. 

At D’IYANU, our goal is to design products that allow people to connect to their African roots in every aspect of their lives. We design clothing for the office, dinner, formal events, church, festivals, and more. As we designed our Black History Month collection, we kept that goal of designing for each aspect of one’s life in mind. Our Black History Month collection will allow our customers to dress for any occasion.

SS: How do D'IYANU designs inspire women of color to be bold at their workplace and every aspect of their lives? 

AO: One of our bestsellers is our Meria pencil dress. It’s an office-appropriate dress that can be paired with a blazer to create a stunning office outfit. It’s made with our unique Onna fabric which beautifully accommodates curves. We also offer blazers and tops that allow women of color to stand out and feel proud at the office. 

SS: Beyond Dashikis and Headwraps, what about D'IYANU helps people to feel connected to their roots?

AO: We create pieces that make people feel proud to connect to their roots. Our designs are trendy and can easily be incorporated into every aspect of one's life.

SS: What can we expect from D'IYANU's new BHM collection?

AO: You can expect a fun and stylish collection for the whole family. We have t-shirts, tops, pants, and jackets perfect for this time of the year.

SS: What advice do you have for women who are preparing to make a bold move?

AO: When preparing to make a bold step, I would recommend three things. Firstly, write down the reasons for why you need to take this bold step. If you have a strong enough reason, it’ll propel you to take action and keep going when the going gets tough. Secondly, ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen. If you know that you can survive the worst, then that takes the fear out of taking action. Thirdly, you have to have faith. You have to have faith that God will lead and guide you as you take each bold step. Also, you have to have faith in yourself that you have what it takes to succeed. 

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