For many people, the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown was a catalyst for creativity and new ventures. BU graduate Joy Osula used the experience to refocus her energies on building a business designing and making African-inspired fashion.

Joy, whose family is from Nigeria, started making clothes while embarking on her degree in communications and media at BU. Having completed her studies, she secured her first professional role as a digital marketing executive for an energy company, before moving into contract roles in education.

Joy said: “I had been developing my fashion business on the side, but when lockdown changed my employment and routine it made me focus on what I really wanted to do. I was able to invest more time in developing the designs, as well as using my communications and marketing skills to develop my website and social media, which has been a real game changer in terms of being able to reach new customers.”

The pandemic also prompted a new line of face masks, with profits going to support a cause close to Joy’s heart. She said: “I did some work for a charity called Mindfarm Development Initiative last year. The charity helps people with disabilities in Nigeria through education and healthcare and I wanted to do something which could support them financially, even if only in a small way to begin with.”

The charitable connection is the first step in Joy’s longer-term aim, to scale up the business and support even more people to access an education. She said: “If you are from a marginalised community it is incredibly difficult to get a decent education. I have set myself a target to help 100 children through school in the next five years, so there’s a lot to do.”

For now Joy is focused on building her customer base, drawing on the skills she developed while at BU. She said: “My university course and placement helped me to put communications theory into practice and begin to understand the power of social media marketing. I am also proud of the work I did with a team of students and SUBU to set up BU’s first Black Student Campaign, to lobby for changes to address the black student attainment gap.”

Find out more about Osula Designs.