When Temidayo Adedokun became pregnant with her first child, she couldn’t wait to buy all kinds of baby clothes with traditional African prints.
Since she was born in Nigeria, it’s important to her that her children have ways to incorporate their culture into their everyday lives. That’s why it was all the more heartbreaking when her search for these types of clothes yielded disappointing results.
“I was super surprised that I couldn’t find affordably priced African aesthetic products that were designed from an authentic place,” Temidayo said. “And I really thought that was an important thing that a lot of people would want for their children as well.”
Between options that were either too expensive or merely safari themed print dubbed “African-inspired,” Temidayo decided to take matters into her own hands. At first, she focused on creating onesies just for her son. But then, as a way to test how interested others might be in her creations, she put a few of them on a website.
The feedback she got gave her just enough confidence to start her own side-hustle. Meanwhile, she continued working as an attorney at a law firm in Oakland, California… that is, until the start of the pandemic when she was told she’d been placed on furlough.
“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?” she said. “Or am I going to take this as a chance to risk everything and kind of bet on myself? I choose the latter.”
In March 2020, Temidayo officially launched her own brand: Ade + Ayo! The name is inspired by her own. It means “crown” and “joy” which reflects “the pride and happiness children bring to their parents’ lives.”
When Temidayo was pregnant with her child, finding baby clothes with a genuine African aesthetic was impossible, but now, thanks to her hard work, parents like herself will no longer have to have that same disheartening experience.
“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,” she 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.”
While Ade + Ayo is providing much needed representation for countless people, it’s also been a great starting place for conversations for those who aren’t of African descent.
“It’s really allowing the parents to start having conversations about being open to different things, and about learning,” she 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.”
Temidayo has so much to be excited about as her almost-2-year-old company continues to grow, but one of the most rewarding parts of her new career goes back to what led her here in the first place: her son.
“It’s really, really exciting to just be able to see my little two year old incorporating it naturally – he’s just going to grow up with that,” Temidayo said. “I can’t really describe the feeling. I feel very, very blessed to be able to be doing this.”
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