Former Amazon and Beauty Exec Ukonwa Ojo on Her New Fashion Label Ada & Edith

The entrepreneur is making a career change

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Ada & Edith

In life, there’s this little thing called fulfilling your destiny. Not to get all philosophical, but I believe each of us has an individual calling within our lives. Some of us have a path where we get to the place we’re supposed to be almost immediately, and for others, there’s a few detours along the way before the destination is ultimately reached. Meet Ukonwa Ojo, an award-winning entrepreneur who’s held roles at Amazon, MAC Cosmetics, Coty, COVERGIRL, and has just launched her brand new collection Ada & Edith.

Passionate about creating products and services for communities that have been largely ignored by the mainstream, prior to her entrepreneurial journey Ojo previously held prestigious positions at some of the world’s biggest brands and companies including: Global Chief Marketing Officer and US General Manager for Amazon Prime Video & Studios, Global Chief Marketing Officer for M.A.C Cosmetics, Coty Consumer Beauty and Global Brand President for COVERGIRL and plenty more that fills up her extensive resume.

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Ukonwa Ojo

Through those gigs, however, Ojo always had this inner pull to pursue her true calling—fashion. “My mother had five kids, and when she had my youngest sister she decided to start training to become a fashion designer, which was very progressive at that time,” she tells ONE37pm as we chat via Zoom. Ojo continues: “She left Nigeria, went to London with my sister to go to fashion school, came back and opened up her boutique. That left an impression on me as a kid, and my mother encouraged us to really have our own perspective of fashion.”

Over the course of her career, the exec-turned-designer has won over 60 awards and honors including: Forbes World’s Most Influential CMOs, Financial Times Top 100 list of Minority Executives for three consecutive years, WWD’s Brand Builder of the Year, Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 and Essence Black Women in Hollywood. Through the accolades, however, fashion has always been an itch Ojo just couldn’t ignore. A fashionista herself, Ojo’s frustration with a male dominated fashion industry creating clothes for women that didn't always fit the lives we actually lived, gave her the courage to create her own line—Ada & Edith—a Black-Owned and female-led (the line is ran with Ojo’s sisters) brand focusing on silhouettes for all women who believe style should be easy and effortless.

Ada & Edith

Apparently I’ve had this dream for a long time—I always knew I wanted to go into entrepreneurship eventually, but I just didn’t know what exactly.

- Ukonwa Ojo

“It wasn’t until I announced the line that I realized just how much I had always talked about doing this,” she explains. “My friend Claudia reminded me how I had always talked about doing fashion. Apparently I’ve had this dream for a long time—I always knew I wanted to go into entrepreneurship eventually, but I just didn’t know what exactly.” That “what” as it turns out was developing a fashion line, and a road trip through Italy with her husband is where she began laying the groundwork for Ada & Edith—drawing a number of sketches while they were driving (she notes that she isn’t professionally trained in designing and sees herself as more of a creative director).

I next ask Ojo how her previous job experiences ultimately prepared her for her career in fashion. “Oh for sure it did! I would say beauty and fashion are sisters,” she says excitedly adding: “I remember when I was the Chief Marketing Officer at MAC Cosmetics—we would actually do the makeup for a lot of the fashion designers as a service. Within my different roles, I also went to a lot of fashion shows, and that also fueled my inspiration.”

Ada & Edith

Our ethos is that you can look incredibly fashionable, but very comfortable at the same time.

- Ada & Edith

Fast forward to present day, and Ada & Edith has finally arrived, which is a fun way to celebrate the memory of Ojo’s mom. Adaora Edith Orizu also shared the same belief that style should be easy and effortless. Ada & Edith’s launch includes kimonos, dresses, sets, shirts and maxi skirts in sizing XS – XXL—all under $400. What separates Ada & Edith from other brands is their commitment to creating clothes that possess the comfort of athleisure, while very much looking like outfits that can be worn to the office, on date nights, and various other formal/upscale events. “Our ethos is that you can look incredibly fashionable, but very comfortable at the same time,” she notes.

Ada & Edith

There’s also the magical essence of Ada & Edith being a family owned business run by Ojo and her sisters. Prior to starting the company, the sisters would talk on the phone every Saturday, and now those conversations naturally flow into all the elements of the Ada & Edith brand. “Every woman's closet has all these sections it’s divided into, and within our clothing specifically, we also wanted for women to have a little extra room to gain a few pounds and still be able to wear our stuff comfortably as well. There’s a lot of intention on our end in terms of creating clothing that delivers in style and comfort.”

Ada & Edith

I want you to go out looking great while receiving a lot of compliments—let us take care of work.

- Ukonwa Ojo

The intentionality is clear from the moment you start browsing through Ada & Edith’s debut catalog. At first glance you see a mixture of exquisite garments that can be worn to a number of different events (some even look couture enough to be on the runway), but Ojo makes it clear that you will never be uncomfortable while wearing the brand. “I want you to go out looking great while receiving a lot of compliments—let us take care of work.”

While it's still very early on in the brand's journey, one thing is already clear—Ada & Edith’s debut line is already off to a great start, indicating that a bright future is ahead for Ojo and her family with more stellar collections (and perhaps some shows down the line) in the works.

You can keep up with Ada & Edith’s latest updates via their official website.

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