This week’s Friday Column is on Zainab Ashadu, the Creative Director of  Zashadu; a sustainable accessories  luxury brand that specialises in hand-crated  leather pieces.  Zashadu has quite thoroughly polarised the “really cool Nigerian girl” market, with a long cue of die-hard Zashadu fans. Such is the power of Zashadu’s craftsmanship, deliberate branding and successful business; consistently churning out lovely addictive handmade leather accessories to her wholly recipient consumers.

In today’s insightful read, Zainab Ashadu gives us an insight on her creative process and design ethos.

A definite must read!

                                                                                          Zainab Ashadu


Ezinne Chinkata:What is the underlying Ethos behind the Zashadu brand?

Zainab Ashadu:Achieving a balance of beauty, functionality and simplicity, reviving and keeping alive old age West African leather working traditions.

The TKO Mini by Zashadu


Ezinne Chinkata:How do you get inspired for your collections?

Zainab Ashadu: I get inspired through literature, art, film, beauty and nature. I also get inspired by people walking on the streets, by their individuality and uniqueness. I love people that fashion considers as having ‘bad taste’, I’m more intrigued by that expression of style, than perfectly-put-togetherness.


Ezinne Chinkata: Do you design with a global perspective or do you make a more concerted effort to infuse and take into consideration the African culture and traditions?

Zainab Ashadu: I design only to please myself.

Zainab and Baby Z


E.C: In what way has motherhood impacted on your artistic direction?

Z.A: It’s made me even more playful, experimental and relaxed.



E.C:Bag manufacturing in Nigeria is a far cry from the modern equipment and machinery available in the western world. Does this hinder some of your more creative/complicated designs?

Z.A:Actually it does the opposite, theres something about working within constraints that fires up the imagination much more. Also I live for problem solving, so for now I’m not complaining too loudly.


E.C: What is your favorite part of the creative journey of creating a hand bag?

Z.A:Physically constructing it and bringing it to life. Seeing and touching something that existed only in my imagination releases a rush of endorphins into the body.


E.C:What Is the one advantage of residing in Nigeria as a creative?

Z.A: If you can make it here, you can make it even in Mars.

                             The Zashadu Understudy


E.C:How do you stay consistent among life’s ever changing ebb’s and flows?

Z.A: I stay true to myself and focus on the bigger picture. My purpose in life is to reflect and share the beauty of the Almighty, to inspire and serve others.

A Judith Leiber Clutch


E.C:Who is your all time bag designer crush?

Z.A:Judith Leiber, I love her no nonsense, problem solving approach, her tough background and hard working ethos. I also love that her husband was her number one champion and supporter.


E.C:How would you describe your personal style?

Z.A:Classic with a hint of tack.

                              Zashadu’s Classic Box Clutch with Lambskin, Rabbit Hair and Pearls


E.C: What colour of handbag would we never see on a Zashadu stand?

Z.A:You will see every colour that exists; colour is life.



E.C:What is the most rewarding experience thus far in your entrepreneurial journey?

Z.A:Living my authentic life, creating employment and adding to the changing perception of my country.


E.C:One thing you wish you knew before you started off?

Z.A:That I am more powerful than I realise, and that life is a journey.

E.C: Any new projects to share with us?

Z.A:Our new collection Rhyme and Rhythm is inspired by the natural rhythm and the ever evolving language of the city of Lagos


E.C:Any famous parting words?

Z.A:Life is for living, create your own happiness.

Image Credits: Instagram: @zashadu   Website:

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