by bootstrapcampus

(Young Entrepreneur spotlight: Elizabeth Akingbade)

Look 1 from AYAO collection

Hey fellow Bootstrap family,

Elizabeth Akingbade here. I’m an emerging designer born in Hackney, raised down south in Bournemouth and recently returned to the capital to study BA Surface Design at London College of Communication.

Since graduating in 2013 I’ve been developing my sustainable clothing label, Yemzi (which came from my Nigerian name Yemi). I’ve designed a few mini collections that have been featured in online magazines such as Dash (London),  Refix (San Francisco)  and Chausseur (London). Last month I gained my first commercial order at a Dutch trade show which has given me a huge ‘Kanye style’ confidence boost to push forward with my “weird” (as quoted by the buyer) digitally printed womenswear. “Yo, I’m really happy for the hundreds of thousands of other clothing designers out there but Yemzi is a sustainable brand, it has art on it, and it will be stocked world-wide.” *drops needle and thread*

On a more serious note, being selected to join Bootstrap under the Enterprise programme has allowed myself and 11 other young people with dope business ideas the opportunity to be mentored by a resident. Our site manager Henry Trew paired me with the talented Oswin Tickler, Creative Director of design studio Small Fury. This week will see our third two hour session which so far has allowed me to discuss the direction and areas of development for Yemzi in great detail. It has been extremely beneficial to bounce ideas off one another and absorb expert advice from a industry professional (which I am very thankful for as Mr Tickler is very busy and has several deadlines a week!)

Hand painted top from Bespoke Bamboo collection

In addition to a mentor every Monday there is a two  hour workshop lead by sports entrepreneur Kofi Oppong, where we focus on a key aspect of being self-employed and successfully running our own businesses. Kofi is very knowledgeable and inspiring which I think are key elements to a successful bootcamp. I am excited to learn more from him over the coming weeks and he may even have a hook-up for my Art Tops in a shop in West London, yay!

As a result of what I’ve learned at Bootstrap so far I have a better understanding of my business, sharpened my online presence, and taken action on diversifying my brand into two labels. This weekend I’ve been working on new silhouettes for my first runway collection, Yemzi Gold Label SS16. I’m thinking of launching it at Dalston Rooftop during summer, what do you think?

Let’s keep in touch…



Instagram: @Yemzi / @YemziLdn

Twitter: IAmYemzi / YemziLdn

Shop my latest range now:


Hand painted Top and belt from Bespoke Bamboo collection

First collection - Wild Cat Tops

AYAO Coellection