Temidayo Adedokun earned a BA in Economics and English Literature at the University of California, Davis, and went on to earn a JD at Yale Law School in 2015. She worked as a lawyer for several years, but found that her heart really wasn’t in it. Adedokun knew that someday she would let her entrepreneur spirit free and create a business of her own. In the meantime, though, she kept working as a lawyer.
When she became pregnant with her first child, Adedokun looked for fabrics and baby clothes that would reflect and celebrate her Nigerian heritage. To her surprise, very little was available, and what was available was either too expensive or reflected only safari themes – something that did not resonate with her love of Nigerian culture. And so, Adedokun was determined to create a business that would showcase the beauty of Nigerian culture in baby clothes and nursery furnishings that were affordable for the average family.
In 2020, the pandemic was in full swing and Adedokun was furloughed from her job at the law firm. Many people would think that launching a new business in the middle of a pandemic while experiencing a reduction in income would not be a good idea. But for Adedokun and her husband, Abisola, all of these events coming together was a positive sign.
Taking care of a newborn and often working until two in the morning was difficult, but by October of 2020, Ade + Ayo was launched. The name combines the Yoruba (Nigerian language) words for “crown” and “joy,” reflecting the pride and happiness children bring to their parents’ lives.
In addition to clothes, Ade + Ayo produces artisan-crafted toys that are handmade by artisans in Rawanda. The collection includes crochet stuffed animals, African fabric balls and animals, scooter baskets, rattles and more! Each toy comes in its own beautiful African fabric drawstring bag – ready for gifting and a great keepsake.
All the fabric prints are given names that speak to beautiful aspects of African culture. For example, Ajoyo, which means “celebration” in Yoruna; Nyim, the word for king of the Kuba people; and Maji, the Swahili word for water.
Adedokun says that our hearts and minds are shaped in part by things we bring into our homes, the things that we learn to see as beautiful. For children born to Africans or people in the African diaspora, it is especially important to make them part of the children’s daily lives. But she also believes that all children can benefit from having these beautiful items in their lives, because they encourage respect for a different culture and a connection to our global community.
Part of the proceeds from Ade + Ayo are donated to organizations that are working to improve the education gap for young children in sub-Saharan Africa. The clothes can be ordered from the website.