Handbags for many women around the world are simply just a fashion statement or something useful to carry things in. However, thanks to a new handbag brand, Olori, fashion is now paving the way for more than just looking smart. Olori is one of such brands who have chosen to take their name and position and turn it into more than just a brand in order to help many people around the world. So how exactly do they do it? Well, it may seem simple, but Olori is now one of the very first brands where every handbag sold provides school tuition fees for a low income girl in rural Africa.
The brand begins by making every handbag themselves from textile material that is derived from women-owned businesses and are handmade throughout Nigeria. The CEO behind the company, Tomide Awe, was born and raised in Nigeria, and she knew early on that she wanted to help bolster women empowerment in her home region. According to Awe, growing up in a country where girls have a 73% chance of not going to school was a huge impact in her decision. Awe was fortunate enough to have parents who could afford to educate her, where as many girls in Nigeria do not have access to education because of war conflicts, child labor, child marriage, and poverty — and Awe wanted to address that gap with her success.
“I founded Olori in honour of my grandmother, who was uneducated, but ensured that her girl child could also have an education against all odds. This paved a way for me to have the kind of life that I do and I have want to make sure that every girl can have access to the same opportunity and be able to live an empowered life,” Awe shared with publication, Bustle. “I have a vision of a world with a force of empowered women and I believe that it begins with educated girls. Investing in quality education for our girls now will yield a benefit in the future, not just for women, but also for the society at large.”
The brand, which is based in Nigeria uses traditional prints and unique and colourful textiles that have deep roots in tribal cultures and history, and are said to be a big part of Awe’s upbringing. When Awe moved to England to study, she wanted a way to share her culture with her new community and non-African friends, and that’s when Olori was born.
“We make handbags that make women feel strong, confident, and secure. We work with artisans and women-owned businesses to help preserve unique craftsmanship and regain influence in a woman-driven industry,” the brand’s website reads.
The idea behind providing women shoppers with the opportunity to help underprivileged girls rise in their education is the theory that “real queens fix each others’ crowns.” “The problem of girls education is an issue that requires our urgent attention and we believe that every woman has the power to affect this change,” Olori’s website reads.
According to the website, “It is hard to imagine that 31 million girls in the world, 17 million of which are in Africa, do not have access to education due to heart-wrenching conditions – including cost, conflict, child marriage, child labor and lower social status. These barriers prevent girls from receiving a proper education and thus lowers their chances for a better future.
The problem of girls education is an issue that requires our urgent attention and we believe that every woman has the power to affect this change.”
While the brand is still fairly new, we’re excited to see where it will go and how many lives it’ll change on their journey.