Bardot Taylor is a first-time founder in her late 40s, a Black British woman based in Wandsworth, whose parents are from Jamaica. She is Founder and Creative Director of House of Nyabinghi, an online fashion platform showcasing luxury contemporary designers from across the global African diaspora, with a cosmopolitan, modern, Afrocentric aesthetic.
Where did your business idea come from?
I’ve always wanted to wear contemporary clothing by African designers but it wasn’t easy to find what I was looking for. Then, when I was out and about people would ask me about my style and where I got my clothes. There were a number of designers that I was aware of but there wasn’t that one house or shopping platform that people could go to. And that was how I began.
I’ve created House of Nyabinghi as a showcase for very contemporary pieces of ready to wear, swimwear, accessories and bags with a very cosmopolitan Afrocentric or Afrofuturistic vibe. The designers are based around the globe but have that essence of African culture within their heritage and expressed in their design.
What challenges have you faced?
I don’t have a technology background so I had to work out the roles and skills that I needed in order to improve the visibility and functionality of my business. I spoke to friends and built a network. I also wanted to connect with black people in tech so that I can understand that landscape from where I was coming from as a black person. Through that discovery, I’ve successfully established the platform.
How did you hear about OneTech?
I went to a great event at the London Mayor’s office hosted by Sadiq Khan and discovered OneTech. It opened a whole new world of information to me. People of all different colours, backgrounds, disabilities came together to hear each other’s stories. One of the panellists was Emma Obanye of OneTech and she advised that I sign up.
How has OneTech supported you?
At the time I thought I was almost at minimum viable product stage. But when OneTech looked at my pitch they gave me support to strip back a lot of information, to understand what would be the big sell when I am pitching to a funder.
Then I joined the Fast Forward founder programme for entrepreneurs and was a part of the JP Morgan Chase pitching event which was such a success. So if it’s been incredibly rewarding as far as I’m concerned.
If I hadn’t engaged with OneTech I genuinely do feel I would have still been staggering around in the dark. I now have confidence that my ideas are valid, but I’ve also become open to constructive critique. Nobody’s trying to knock you but they are really trying to help you take that advice. It gave me an education about external funding rounds and pathways, with useful examples of other businesses that had grown via external funding, and real founders telling their stories. It made potential business trajectories much more tangible for me. OneTech has given me clarity of how vast the business could be. No idea is too big. With the right support, the sky’s the limit. It’s been awe-inspiring.
Now I am most definitely at minimum viable product stage. I’m working with some designers at the moment and was recently invited to showcase at one of the Fashion Weeks to bring out our first collection.
How has COVID impacted your business?
At present COVID is the biggest challenge for all of us. We are still on-brand. But we haven’t done mass production because can’t go into those production sites. We can’t fly to different parts of the world to see how our supply chain is moving. We are working out how to continue everything small scale but still deliver really great content and products.
What are your plans for the future?
One of the reasons I set up House of Nyabinghi was to reach out to individuals to say ‘We are here in a safe space for you and we see you. This is a safe space for you to be joyous.’ That message is the same and when we come out of the pandemic I want to move forward with the business and bring joy with my clothing.