Magenta, pearl, white, lavender, sage green, steel gray, neon pink—name a color, and you can almost certainly find it in a bra or a pair of boy shorts. But when it comes to the estimated $75 billion lingerie industry—nudes—the selection is woefully limited. "I'm a black woman, and so-called nude colors rarely matched my skin tone," says Ade Hassan, a 30-year-old former private-equity senior associate who lives in London. "There are so many things to worry about in life. Finding lingerie shouldn't be one of them."

In 2013, fed up with underwear underrepresentation, Hassan set about creating a lingerie and hosiery company expressly targeting women of color. With minimal shades to work from, she spent four months visiting department store beauty counters to research popular foundations. Next came the endless tweaking of fabric dyes: "The pantyhose were really tricky," she says. "I ended up boiling some in massive pots of tea and coffee to get the hues just right."

In September, Hassan debuted Nubian Skin, her sleek collection of underwear and hosiery, now available in four shades: Café au Lait, Caramel, Cinnamon and Berry (her darkest). The company has already received social media shout-outs from actors Kerry Washington and Thandie Newton and filled orders from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Brazil and beyond. "I want every woman to be able to pop into a store to pick up a bra," says Hassan, "knowing she'll find what she's looking for"—and that someone has got her back. And front.


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