She Leads Africa recently announced the top 10 finalists for their 2014 Entrepreneurial Showcase. Selected from 380 applications from more than 27 countries, these young entrepreneurs represent the cream of the crop of young female entrepreneurs across the continent.
One of the nominees is Banke Kuku Textiles,a textile company established in 2011 by textiles designer Banke Kuku. The company fuses traditional African and Western culture and can be identified by its complex patterns and intricate designs. As noted on the site, the company’s designs are featured in some of the world’s most renowned global publications, such as Vogue, Elle, The Times UK, and Good Homes. The brand has created intrepid fabric designs for renowned fashion houses including Duro Olowu, Jewel by Lisa, Virgos Lounge and Lot78, which have been worn by the likes of Michelle Obama, singer Kelis and E! News TV presenter Catt Sadler.
The CEO and creative director is Banke Kuku, a textile designer specialising in woven and printed fabrics for fashion and interiors.
Banke Kuku has cited Nigeria’s textile industry as her main source of inspiration as its fruitful background and culture has always intrigued her.
Born in Lagos, her obsession with textiles started when she was younger as her mother taught her how to knit by the age of 5. She moved to London when she was eight years old. Banke then attended Central St Martins and Chelsea College of Art & Design, specialising in woven textiles. She uses the art of textile production to create stunning fashion and interior pieces to beautify both the body and the home. She is inspired by culture especially the fusion between African and Western design.She is also inspired by rich colours, current affairs and her emotions.
She worked for Burberry whilst still in Art College. She has also worked with other renowned brands such as such as Jewel by Lisa, DuroOlowu, Lot 78 and many more. Banke also has a published book ‘The Unwoven Threads of Nigeria’ under her belt. The book is an in-depth assessment of the state of the Nigerian textiles industry. In it, she gives suggestions and routes in which the Nigerian textiles industry can use to gain momentum and propel itself to an international level that contributes positively to its economy without losing the traditional aspects and techniques of its produce as it a symbol of national culture.
Banke was awarded the title ‘Queen of Colour’ by creative director of Jasmine di Milo. Her designs have been described as ‘Exquisite Piece of Art’ by Lidewij Edelkoort, one of the world’s most renowned trend forecasters.