Jane Badu | We Are Nomads | Inspiring Interviews

Jane Badu | We Are Nomads | Inspiring Interviews
Tell us a little bit about yourself… 

I’m Jane Badu, I’m from Stoke on Trent which is in the midlands but moved to London in 2004 to pursue a career in interior design. I studied a Diploma at LCC then worked my way up at some branding agencies that specialise in retail design. I have always loved art ever since I was a child and always wanted to be an interior designer, finally, at the age of 27, I had gotten a foot in the door.

How did your journey initially begin with We Are Nomads? Was it developed in a ‘flashbulb’ moment or did it evolve over time?

I came up with the idea of We Are Nomads during a trip to Marrakesh. After quitting my job in 2015 to go freelance, I decided to take a mini-break and go back to Morocco in 2016 (I had been once before). It was during that trip, whilst shopping, I began to think about how much I wanted to bring all of these products back home and show everyone. I was also inspired by the craftsmanship of African designers and thought that there needs to be more space given to them.

What was your initial idea for We are Nomads?

My initial idea was to create a website that gave people the feeling of travelling from their own home to a far-away destination. I wanted to connect the colours and textures of the country in which the products are found and the products themselves. I imagined creating a space that celebrated travel memories and the excitement of discovering new objects and cultures.

Your products are heavily inspired by your travels. What makes you passionate about encapsulating this in your products?

I think it’s important to show people that there is a world of creativity in countries that they might never have thought about. For instance, I visited Ethiopia which produces fine cotton and has a great history of weaving. For many people Ethiopia is a place that is just impoverished, however, it is so much more than that, it’s very creative and vibrant. I want to give another story to the creatives I meet whilst travelling and also learn from them.

How would you like your customer to feel when they own your product?

I would like them to be excited about the fact that they own something which has travelled far and been created by hand. They may never meet the maker but the maker's marks are all over the object. I want my customers to feel inspired whether that’s to take a trip to the place of origin or to remember their travels. I had one customer say that they saw some of the pottery I stock on a trip to Marrakech and wished they had brought it back, luckily she was able to do that by buying a piece from me.

Each day as an entrepreneur can look so different - explain a general day in the life including how many new skills you have acquired since working for We Are Nomads...

A general day in the life involves responding and writing emails, connecting with makers and designers and discussing future projects. I also spend quite a bit of time creating content for social media and trying to build an audience. Before running the shop I had no experience so everything has been a steep learning curve. Everything from bookkeeping to email marketing to SEO. You have to wear many different hats.

Your pieces are so beautifully chosen, and each product maintains a real sense of the countries charm you’ve bought it from. What is important to you in the buying process for your store and what product makes the cut?

It is important to me that the products are handmade, that doesn’t mean each piece of fabric must be seen by hand but I would like to see the hand of the maker in each item. I love when pieces have slight differences and aren’t all perfect. I don’t want mass-produced products in my shop. Products that appeal to me have a sense of connection with the place they are made. I try to choose pieces that give me a sense of the “feel" of a country, the colours and the textures.

Alongside We Are Nomads, you are also an interior designer at We are Nomads Interiors. Tell us how you fell into interior design originally and what made you start your own company for this passion?

I was always a creative child, constantly moving my bedroom around and re-painting. After graduating I started work experience at Kinnersley Kent Design who are an interior and graphic design agency. KKD specialise in retail design and I knew that commercial design was something I wanted to work in. As a shop owner now I am even more passionate about retail design, particularly windows & VM design. I love the quick turn around of windows and working freelance allows me to work on lots of exciting projects. 

You offer clients ‘interior with soul’ and work closely with the individual for their unique needs on each job. What is your process in piecing together the clients dream for each space? Is it automatically visual for you or does it piece together more organically?

At the beginning of a new design project, I will spend time working on distilling who the client is and what they are looking to achieve. No two projects are alike so a new brief of creating to allow us to establish and agree on the path going forward. The fun part is to then get started on creating a look and feel that we can then refine and agree on. Clients should feel like they are part of the journey and that their needs are being catered to.

What is the best space you’ve ever worked on?

I worked on a window as a freelancer for Harlequin Design for the brand Joseph. That was a very creative project which allowed us to go out there with our design. The concept was based around cable ties and was for Christopher Kane's new collection.

As an interior designer, you are well aware of just how much a person’s space can benefit their lives and sense of wellbeing. What overall tips would you give for quick, simple and inexpensive uplifts in a person’s space? 

I would defiantly say adding plants will lift your space and gift a sense that it is fresh and constantly changing. Adding frames to your walls helps to personalise your home. There are some fantastic artists who produce prints and frames can be stuck up with removable tape if you cannot add hanging hooks. The addition of throws and cushions can soften a space and completely change the look of a room if you are looking to introduce colour into your home.

The coronavirus pandemic has certainly made us all see home as something far more precious than before. What are the best parts of your home and what makes a house a home to you?

My bedroom has become a little bit of a sanctuary for me. I live in an open plan flat so it is a space to escape the noisy washing machine and the dishwasher. The light which comes into the bedroom at sunset is lovely, it has such a warm glow and makes the space feel doubly cosy. I love to have lots of cushions and blankets to cosy up to, that to me is home, comfort.

What’s your best piece of advice to someone wanting to form their own path after working for brands previously?

I would say that it’s important to find what your niche is and what makes you happy. I made lots of lists and scribbled down lots of thoughts before taking the leap to start my shop. If you have experience working for brands, treat your own brand as you would a client. Make sure you have a strong idea of what your brand is about and what you/it stands for.

What up-and-coming designers are you rooting for lately?

I love the work of Agilo and Ella-Bua, they are both ceramicists that I saw on Instagram. Margherita Bolzoni Handbags, Eradu Ceramics, I love the Kenan Crafts Company and Mind The Cork. There are so many lovely designers now and great communities forming on social media.

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What have been the positives from the coronavirus pandemic for you?

Corona has forced people to re-think their lives and reassess what is important to them. For me, it has meant checking on the people I care about more than I would normally and supporting local businesses more. It has been eye-opening to see how much our communities need each other and that we must work together to get through this. Everybody has been affected by this so there is a sense of camaraderie.

In a sentence, what’s the best piece of advice you could give to another who needs some encouragement on pursuing their dreams, whether it be a business, a life change or forming a new company?

It is better to try something and fail than to never try at all.

Shop: www.wearenomads.co.uk
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