Buying socially conscious items isn't always an easy task, but luckily more and more ethical labels are springing up that give back to the communities that help create their products. The handbag brand Olori is one of such brands, where every handbag sold provides school tuition fees for a low income girl in rural Africa.
The bags themselves are made from textiles that are 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 the region.
Growing up in a country where girls have a 73% chance of not going to school, Awe was fortunate enough to have parents who could afford to educate her. Many girls do not have access to education because of war conflicts, child labor, child marriage, and poverty — and Awe wanted to address that gap.
"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 shares with 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."
As a Nigerian company, the brand uses traditional prints and colorful textiles that have deep roots in tribal cultures and history, and were 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.
Olori means "Queen" in the Yoruba language, and is meant to capture every girl's power and importance. "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. Check out some of their picks below.
The woven textiles that cover the majority of the crossbody bag originate from the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria and are called Aso-oke, which means "Top -Cloth." They are typically used in weddings and important ceremonies.
Top Flap Crossbody
If you prefer to have your print decorate only the top flap of the purse versus the entire bag, then the "Tola Legend" model is the one for you.
For those who prefer to keep their prints subtle, the "Tola Classic" is a leather crossbody bag that has surprise textile pockets on the inside, letting you play with prints in a minimalist way.
If you're looking to start shopping ethically and help a worthy cause, then you can't do better than Olori.