ESSENCE: How did you become a stylist? What were your big breaks?
ADE SAMUEL: I began to really dig deep into my styling ability during my internships at W and Teen Vogue, where I eventually became the fashion assistant. These publications gave me a wonderful platform to meet top-tier stylists. During my days off or on the weekends, I would volunteer to work on photo shoots. After a few years, I moved from New York City to L.A., which afforded me the opportunity to be a part of styling projects for Beyoncé, the Kardashians, Rihanna, Big Sean and Nicole Richie, to name a few.
ESSENCE: How did your shoe line come to be?
A.S.: It took almost two years to execute. I collaborated with an amazing illustrator and consultant to get the ideas from my head to paper and then eventually into the factory in Florence. (Creating shoes made in Italy has always been a dream of mine.) We spent many hours going over tons of inspirational images and art, which helped to define my vision. It clicked that my line had to be sleek and fashion forward and had to have sex appeal. That's what Ade Samuel shoes are all about.
ESSENCE: Who influenced your love of fashion?
A.S.: As women of Nigerian descent, my mom and granny would wear what we call in our culture aso-ebi, or lace (Nigerian garb), and geles (head wraps) to various special events. The texture and design of the lace or even the patterns of the gele have always intrigued me. They influenced me to want to dissect my culture's style, and by doing so I grew to have a huge love for clothing.
ESSENCE: Everyday style staples?
A.S.: Great flats or sneakers that allow me to stand on my feet all day. I'm obsessed with my Balenciaga trainers and Puma by Rihanna Creepers—these sneakers never leave my side!