Bunmi Olaye was born in Nigeria and came to the UK, aged 14 to study. After her years at school she nurtured her passion for art and fashion by undertaking an undergraduate foundation course at Wimbledon School of Art where she gained a National Diploma in Art & Design. She went straight on to study Fashion Promotion at the Kent Institute of Art & Design, which led to her working as a fashion stylist and illustrator in London.
Bunmi went on to work for luxury companies such as Anne Fontaine, Harrods and Prada before going back to study at the prestigious London College of Fashion, where she undertook the FdA Styling & Photography course. However, her desire to design and make clothes led her to further take a Fashion Design & Marketing Degree at the University of East London, where she was awarded a special prize for Female Entrepreneurship in 2010 and currently appointed by the Vice Chancellor as their ambassador for Female Entrepreneurship. Whilst studying, she made clothes for individual clients, most notably former Spice Girl – Mel B and in her sandwich year, she worked with couture designer Allison Rodger and Alexander McQueen. During this time she travelled to Aberdeen where she met Scottish based engineer and partner, Francis Udom and their union inspired them both to start Bunmi Koko. She is the Creative Director of the brand.
Bunmi has also worked for the luxury company group LVMH under Louis Vuitton which helped her to develop her creative style and gain an understanding of luxury market. This, coupled with her partnership with Bunmi Koko’s CEO- Francis Udom, has resulted in a fusion of Nigerian and Scottish heritage where engineering and fashion unite to create innovative designs which to date, has resulted in the creation of Longitudinal Caissons: a new method of creating tubular silhouettes in fabric.
Bunmi Koko has caught the attention of numerous celebrities including the fashion director of The Daily Telegraph; Hilary Alexander; Michelle Obama, Mel B, Mischa Barton, Michelle Williams, Kelly Rowland, Mica Paris, Estelle and Alex Gerrard. Amongst this, Bunmi can add some accolades to her achievements in these early stages of her career, as Bunmi Koko became:
Winner of the Precious Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 Award, organized by the Precious Awards and British Library.
Winner of the 2010 Africa Fashion Award for the ‘Emerging International Designer’ in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Finalist for the iD International Emerging Designer Awards 2011 in Dunedin, New Zealand.
Finalist for the Cosmopolitan Ultimate Woman of the Year Award in November 2010.
Finalist for Creative Business of the Year Award & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award at Precious Awards in November 2010 sponsored by the British Library.
Finalist at the Grampian Awards, for Business Enterprise Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 in Aberdeen sponsored by the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Made into the Power List 2011 – Britain’s 100 Most Influential Black People sponsored by Powerful Media and J.P. Morgan.
Finalists at The Pitch Perfect Business Awards in February 2011 sponsored by Lloyds TSB, your docklands & city magazine, Tower Hamlets College and European Regional Development Fund.