I am Yelé Adelusi. Yelestitches is an African Luxury Fashion brand based in Baltimore, MD. My middle name is “Omoyele,” which means “a child beautifies the home” (hence, the brand name). I recently released my new Fall/Winter ’22 line, ‘Regal.’
Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?
Before I came to Baltimore and set up shop there, I was originally from Nigeria. I was born in Lagos, but my childhood home is Akute, Ogun State. I lived with my father and three siblings. My parents actually built the home we owned. Living in Nigeria has influenced my current work so much, and I think that’s evident from my designs. Nigeria and African prints are so beautiful and inspiring, that it’d be harder not to make them into something beautiful. I love that I’m able to use styles and prints that I was familiar with from my childhood and use them to create clothes for people to wear today. You can learn a lot about my childhood just by looking at the patterns and little messages included in my designs. (My new African-Cow print Maxi Kimono Dress has my name on it!) My experience growing up in Nigeria is why I am so committed to blending western and African styles. I try to incorporate at least two cultures into each garment, and I usually include a beautiful African print.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
I was always interested in fashion but quickly realized that I couldn’t find items that fit my style. Because of this, I began to take my clothes right to a tailor after shopping to get them altered to represent my style. My friend’s mother actually owned a tailor shop, so she helped teach me how to tailor clothes on my own. Eventually, I began to make clothes not only for myself but for others, too. People would always ask me where I got my clothes, so it was only natural to start making them for others who were interested. The business started from there. When I got the opportunity to expand my business to the United States, I was very excited. Baltimore is an inspiring place to live as a fashion designer. There are influences everywhere, just like back home.
What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?
My personal motto is “fortune favors the prepared,” so my advice is to be prepared! It’ll help you so much in the long run. Also, trust that your hard work will pay off. You need to believe in yourself before you can ask others to believe in you.