SAP 035 – Duke Ubong Ata; menswear, lifestyle, fashion and branding advice from the king of the fit

Duke Ubong Ata is a designer and personal stylist.

He is the Creative Director of the Duke Ata, a luxury brand that specialises in creating tailored suits, shirts, shoes and accessories.

Duke started out as a blogger and stylist. Now, he operates from his showroom in Newcastle and serves clients across the UK.

Personal life

“Both my parents are Nigerians, I was born in Nigeria.”

“I grew up between Nigeria and the UK and eventually moved to the UK when I was 17 to begin my studies.”

“I have two sisters and one brother and I am the last of the lot. We’re from the south, Akwa Ibom state” (Nigeria).

Area of expertise

“I make people look great.”

“I call myself the king of the fit.”

“I’ve also got a very keen eye for detail.”

Advice for aspiring fashion entrepreneurs

“There’s never been a better time to get into fashion, menswear is one the fastest growing industries across the board.”

“The key is to get good quality products and tell your story – being able to have people to connect to you and your brand.”

Lowest entrepreneurial moment

“I had a patch where I suffered from depression, it was a bit of a struggle. I was procrastinating, I wasn’t as productive, I wasn’t getting things done in time and I was turning stuff in late to clients.”

“My physical health suffered as well.”

What do you do to get back up when you’re down

“Talking to people, especially clients. People generally understand and want to be part of the journey.”

“And, understanding that it is a cycle, little problems will crop up.”

Proudest entrepreneurial moment

“I think it was this year when I’ve just put everything together, I’ve finally been able to incorporate my African heritage into the designs.”

“And, being able to export the beauty of the African heritage to the rest of the world.”

What’s got you buzzing right now

“The online launch of my first ready-to-wear collection, we’re talking baseball hats, polo shirts, overcoats, pocket squares, ties and shoes.”

“It will be my first foray into taking this from just a national brand to a worldwide brand – opening up the website for people to order from all over the world and have it delivered to them.”

Lion’s den

What is the best African saying you’ve ever heard?

What the elders can see sitting down, a child can’t see standing up or even on top of a tree.

“I love this because there’s a lot of history, people have done a lot of research before you.”

“Look at what they’ve done, learn from the past and improve on the ideas.”

What was holding you back from building your brand?

“I think it was just confidence.”

“I was caring too much about what people were going to think.”

“But like we’ve said, put it out there and let the market decide.”

Which is your social media platform of choice?

“Instagram is where I like to play.”

“I think that’s where the magic happens for fashion and lifestyle entrepreneurs.”

Instagram tip for fashion and lifestyle entrepreneurs

“Post more striking and engaging photos, people have a short attention span, give them something that they’re going to have a second look at.”

“Play with colours as well – the contrast of colours like a bright scarlet blue on a black background.”

A daily routine that contributes to your success

“I wake up quite early, most times at 5 or 6 am and I just have a general catch up when it’s nice and quiet, I set out my plans for the day.”

“I draft all my emails at 6 am and once it gets to 9 am I’m sending all of them out. Usually, by 9 or 10 am most of my actual work for the day is done.”

Recommend a book for the Tribe to check

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

“It talks about how to live for less and be less materialistic.”

“Also, worrying less and being more productive with your time.”

If you had 24 hours to live what would you do?

“Family is everything, I would spend time with my family.”

Words of wisdom

“Put your ideas out there and let the market tell you what they think – more importantly, believe in yourself.”

“Be adaptable, create better and take inspiration from the people before you.”

Connect with Duke