Tihara Smith stands in front of the camera holding a book and smiling. Tihara is a Black woman wearing a pink jumper.

Sharing Stories from the Black Business Incubator: Tihara Smith

22 Mar 2023

The Black Business Incubator at Somerset House helps early-stage Black entrepreneurs unlock their full creative potential. 

The programme provides expert-led masterclasses, mentorship, access to co-working space, as well as community events. We believe entrepreneurial success relies on being part of a supportive and inclusive creative community.

We wanted to introduce you to these talented people, so we tasked the entrepreneurs with answering some of our questions in order to explore their stories.

First up, we speak to Tihara Smith, the founder of the self-titled fashion, accessories and lifestyle brand. The brand, which makes use of interesting textiles, bright colours and tropical flora and fauna is inspired by Tihara’s Caribbean heritage with a London twist.

How did you get started as a creative entrepreneur?

I studied BA Fashion and University for the Creative Arts Epsom from 2015 – 2018. My final collection, inspired by the Windrush Generation, was chosen to be shown as part of the UCA Epsom show at Graduate Fashion Week 2018. Upon graduation I realised I wanted to continue researching and designing off the back of my final collection, so whilst working at my first full-time job I designed and made hand-embroidered raffia bags that I sold on my website and on Etsy.  

I eventually started selling at craft markets, and expanded my product range to include other accessories, prints, stationery and greeting cards. Since then my practice has grown.

What are your biggest achievements as a business/practice so far?

There are quite a few which I am proud of. Since graduation I’ve had an outfit from my final collection acquired by the Museum of London; I also won the Start Up with Seven Dials competition in 2020-21, resulting in a 6-week pop-up shop on Neal Street. During the National Theatre’s run of Small Island by Andrea Levy I had a selection of products stocked in the National Theatre Bookshop. I’ve since exhibited at my first trade show (Top Drawer) and have spoken to students about my work and the Windrush Generation at a school in London.

Why would you recommend Black Business Incubator to other creative entrepreneurs? 

It’s a great opportunity to meet and network with like-minded people. In addition to this, it’s amazing to have the resources available to you provided by Somerset House. It was good to work with a mentor who could share their experiences of running a product business, and in particular selling wholesale to retailers too. This experience helped me on my journey to find stockists for my products. 

It has also been useful to be associated with an organisation like Somerset House – I feel other businesses (suppliers, stockists, partners) I connect with respect Somerset House and therefore have a better impression of my business. 

What are your plans for the year ahead?

I hope to continue to work on finding stockists to stock my products! I also hope to start running embroidery workshops, which I was inspired to start running as a result of a masterclass we had at Somerset House during the programme.


Are you an ambitious creative entrepreneur who is motivated to build your business skills to create sustainable growth? We're currently taking applications for the next cohort of the Black Business Incubator and are on the lookout for Black-led creative businesses that are embracing innovation, pushing boundaries and making an impact. 

Black Business Incubator is developed in partnership with Mentor Black Business and sponsored by Morgan Stanley