Eva Sonaike is a creative director and the founder and CEO of Eva Sonaike, a contemporary African design interior company. Her designs and pieces instantly gives you nostalgia for Africa with a contemporary twist. Her designs are unique and mesmerizing. Her company was borne out of a burning passion for interior design and authentic African home decor. Her products can be found in prestigious stores all over the world like Liberty, Fenwick, Amara, Selfrigles and Alara.
She earned her MA in Fashion Journalism from the London College of Fashion. She started her career in fashion editing and has worked for a lot of reputable brands like German Elle and Instyle. She is a true global citizen and brings this ethos to her company. She shared her career journey with LFE:
We love all your designs, every piece tells a unique story. What was the driving force behind launching your company?
I started the company with the aim to bring African design to the premium and luxury end of the interior design industry. When I came up with the idea of a luxury African soft furnishings brand, I was working in the fashion industry as the fashion editor of a glossy women’s magazine here in London. I came across so many interesting and inspiring brands but never saw anyone with an African design focus who was established or making waves in the design industry at that stage.
So I decided to take things into my own hands and set up Eva Sonaike.
Launching a business can be stressful ( and scary!)What were some of the challenges you faced as a first time entrepreneur? How did you know how to start?
To be honest, I didn’t really know that Iet myself into. But in hindsight, this was a good thing.
I approached the who process quite strategically (at least I thought so) and started with an outline of what I wanted the company to be, designed a logo and then started sampling.
This was the easy part, but when things became more serious and people and stores showed an interest in my products, I had to really put my business head on and develop a strategy that would help me to grow from a small nice brand into the international brand we are today.
I would say that a lot of expertise comes from doing and learning. You have to always be at the forefront of things as an entrepreneur, to know what is going on, trends in the industry and the support that is available to you as a small business.
And you have to put off your fears and doubts that are holding you back aside, and just get on with things.
We have been running for a decade now and I am still learning a lot of these things on a daily basis.
Have you had any mentors along the way?
Yes, I did. I have a business mentor, who is from a totally different background but helps me with my business approach, which is universal.
What’s the first thing you look for when you’re sourcing products for your designs?
As I have my own textile and soft furnishing company, I often use products from our own collections, as they reflect my own unique style, which is what people are often looking for when working with us.
If I source products from elsewhere, I am looking for the quality of the product and the durability if suitable. And it needs to fit the design scheme I am working on, which is often colourful and African-inspired.
What advice do you have for women who want to venture into interior design?
The industry looks so nice, creative and inspiring from the outside, which it is, but at the same time, it is a tough and very competitive field.
So if you want to get started you need to know the industry inside out. You don’t necessarily have to have a degree in design, but should be familiar with the industry standards, terms and history of the design industry. And of course, you need an eye for space, colour, texture and a passion to bring it all together. Another aspect is to have your own unique style, that you can be associated with.