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INSPIRATION AND ADVICE

MEET THE GBEMI GALS

Introducing Gbemi, one of the latest brands to land on-site 🌈 Gbemi (it's pronounced BEM-EE btw) is all about colour, bb! Graphic prints are what the brand does best, from lounge sets to cute co-ords and dresses – the brighter the better! 🎨 ICYDK, sisters Alice and Toni co-founded the brand in London back in 2021 and it didn’t take long for their super eye-catching designs to start turning heads on TikTok. Then, before they knew it, the gals had gone ✨viral✨ grabbing the attention of our very own buying team in the process! Toni and Alice came to ASOS HQ to chat about starting their business, their inspo and what it's *really* like working with your sister…
Gbemi Co-founders | ASOS Stylefeed

Hey gals! So can you tell us a little about how your brand was formed?
TONI: I loooove telling this story! It kicked off around the time of the Black Lives Matter Movement – we were in lockdown at the time and people were starting to talk about 'The Black Pound', encouraging people to buy from Black-owned businesses. Back then, I was working as a MUA and, because I’m not the most creative, I wanted to find a partner that I could create something with, and my sister had the same thought! She wanted to relaunch her clothing brand with someone to look after the marketing and it was like a lightbulb moment! That’s how Gbemi 2.0 was born.

So what is the brand all about?
ALICE: Our main philosophy is, 'This is for the girls who are queens, the queens who wear dreams!' We believe ALL women are queens and they should be treated like royalty! That comes through in everything we do, from the details in our prints to the messaging we put out there. We’re really into affirmations and self-love – and that’s really what people have been drawn to.

 

T: Our signature is print and colour – we’re Nigerian and I don’t think we always realised how much that presents in our brand. Our mothers and aunties would always be wearing these loud dresses with prints and clashing colours, and we wanted that energy to translate into our business and our garments as well!

 

Where did the name come from? 
A: Gbemisola is my full Nigerian name, but people call me Gbemi for short. I always had this vision that I’d have a brand called Gbemi one day!

Gbemi Co-founders | ASOS Stylefeed

You said you started during lockdown – how did you find that, especially with all the competition out there?
A: Toni was working in makeup and she had friends in fashion that she’d worked with on shoots. They advised us to go on TikTok and just share what we’re doing! That really helped us get out there, so even though there was a lot of competition, we were getting a lot of comments telling us people loved what we were working on – and that was before we were even getting samples! So having that validation early on just helped us feel really sure. Like yeah, we’re on to something.

 

T: There was also a real appetite for black creatives. Coming from the industries we worked in before, we went through a bit of a metamorphosis where we stopped being apologetic about who we were. Before, we’d honestly have conversations like should we show our faces? Should people know we’re two black women from London – is that going to stand in the way of our success? But then there was such a shift, that we really felt emboldened to go out as ourselves and do that! So in a way, we launched at the perfect time.

Where do you get your design inspiration from?
A: It’s a lot about travel. I went to Miami and just fell in love with it. There’s loads of vintage posters and graphics there. And then we’ve got this regal element of the brand – I reference things royalty would wear in the past. We can’t just have a plain button… It’s all about the little things that make it Gbemi – opting for a crystal button instead! 

And let’s talk about your partnership with ASOS! Can you tell everyone how that came about?
A: OMG! I was literally on Instagram and I saw this message pop up – I couldn’t believe it. I instantly called my sister and was like LOOK! A few years before, ASOS had a design competition, which I entered but didn’t get through… so it was a real full-circle moment – I wanted this for so long and it came.

 

T: I remember filming her pitch for that competition. I was so proud of her! But when you fail you kind of lose confidence, and there was a period where she thought ‘I don’t want to do this anymore'. So to have that validation – there’s a brand out there that love your designs and want them – it was a really proud big sister moment… AND for the business I was like YAY!

Gbemi Track suit | ASOS Stylefeed

Pictures: ASOS

We love it! 🥹 What have your pinch me moments been?
A: When Maya Jama wore our jeans! That was so cool.

T: For me, I think its just people starting to know who we are now! They can’t pronounce our name… but that doesn’t bother me. People will send us pictures when they spot our stuff out and about, which is amazing.

What have you got planned for 2023?!
T: We learnt so much from our first collection. We really spoke to our customers about what they want from us and found out they love our print – they love our more laid-back stuff. We've listened and incorporated more of that!

A: Jersey has done so well for us! So we want to expand on that, introduce hoodies, tees, vest tops! Wearable, casual pieces with that Gbemi touch ✨

 

Shop Gbemi on ASOS here! 💖

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