Ep 5: Reflecting on 10 years and what it takes to build a luxury African textiles brand with Eva Sonaike

In this episode, I chat with Eva Sonaike. Eva is the founder of Eva Sonaike, London-based interiors and lifestyle brand creating luxurious textiles and home décor products. Eva, who was born and raised in Germany and is of Nigerian heritage, has taken the best elements of these two cultures to inspire her work. The result being designs that bring the vibrancy of African colours and aesthetics to the luxury home décor and accessories market. 

A self-taught designer, Eva used to work in media as a fashion and an interiors journalist, but maternity leave led her to design some cushions for her home. And what began as a hobby developed into an internationally stocked brand that is celebrating 10 years. Eva talks candidly about the highs and lows of the journey and how running a business has taught her a lot about herself as a person, and not to take anything for granted. 

We talk about:

  • What led her to start a textile design business and the journey of turning a hobby into a full-time business
  • How her first collection attracted the attention of Selfridges and Liberty London, two prestigious London department stores. How being in the right place at the right time has led to some of her biggest opportunities.
  • Celebrating ten years of Eva Sonaike and what has this journey taught her about herself and as a business leader
  • Developing the characteristics of a textile designer and the importance of business acumen
  • Using trade shows to help get her brand exposure, and what participation has taught her about branding and building a world-class brand
  • Why you shouldn’t say yes to every opportunity
  • The perception of luxury African Design in a western market
  • Getting her products into African countries, the ease of doing business
  • Overcoming discouragement and seasons of doubt
  • Balancing family and business

“People want to know who you are rather than what you want to sell to them.” – Eva Sonaike

Links and resources mentioned in this episode 

Selfridges – https://www.selfridges.com/GB/en/

Liberty London – https://www.libertylondon.com

Fenwick – https://www.fenwick.co.uk

The Observer Magazine – https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2018/may/06/african-express-how-bright-textiles-brought-one-london-home-to-life

Alara – @alaralagos https://www.instagram.com/alaralagos/?hl=en

Temple Muse – http://www.temple-muse.com

Concept Store in Rwanda get name

Eki Orleans – https://ekisilk.com

Lisa Folawiyo – http://www.lisafolawiyo.com

Aburi Gardens Ghana – https://touringghana.com/aburi-botanical-gardens/

Google Analytics – https://analytics.google.com//

Where you can go to find out more about Eva: www.evasonaike.com

Instagram: @evasonaike – https://www.instagram.com/evasonaike/?hl=en

Facebook: @evasonaike – https://www.facebook.com/evasonaike/

“Always inspire yourself visually, always see what is out there… everything around you is inspiration, everything around you is so rich.” – Eva Sonaike

You can listen to the podcast on iTunes (iOS) and Stitcher (Android)

And before you go I have a favour to ask, if you could you take a few minutes to do the three R’s: that is rate it, review it, and recommend it to anyone you feel would benefit. It will really make a difference and I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks again.

Tapiwa Matsinde

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