About - Olowou Print

Olowou - Our Story

To understand the meaning and the choice of the language in which the name OLOWOU was used, we felt the need to bring forth the history of our origin country “Dahomey” currently known as Benin Republic. Benin has been part of the long and well-known history of slavery in West Africa. It was a boarding country with a notorious town on the south shore called Ouidah, a departure port for many slaves leaving the west coast of Africa.

OLOWOU is the creation of Salmata Yémi ABDOULAYE or Mrs. Akobi. OLOWOU means “Highest Cotton Master”, translated from the language of “Yoruba”, one of the oldest among the multitude dialects spoken in Benin Republic. The diversity comes from the multiplicity of the ethnic groups of slaves that were brought from different areas of the west coast to “Dahomey” in order to board for the triangle journey (Slave Trade).There were slaves who were left behind for some reason and whom finally found home and became part of the society. That is why we have so many dialects or languages in the country and how we got to integrate Yoruba as one of the languages spoken in Benin (Fun fact: There are 92 dialects spoken in Benin!)

Our motivation for years has been to promote the African artifact coupled with the handcraft ingenuity of the people of African descent, more importantly from the people of Benin Republic.

A few years ago after we have completed our studies, we tried to look for a job that can provide us with a normal standard of living. Very quickly we realized that it was not the best choice. Not because we neither had the ability nor the intellect to acquire the job but, that option will only serve one purpose. Taking care with limited means of our families and subsequently losing the ultimate picture of making a difference in our communities, country, continent and eventually in the world.

With that in mind, an idea and the focus point of our mission emerged: we will make use of the readily available local labor and resources to make the Benin batik art into a modern life style. We started our enterprise with two employees 7 years ago without any funding or real capital. It was just by personal means and efforts that we succeeded in having our first products exhibition here in the United States, 5 years ago. To this day and still not funded and operating at our own baby steps, we have happily employed over twenty one local artisans that create, design, sew and put together all our line of products locally.

Not only do we take pride ensuring we hire and produce locally, we also use recyclable materials such as soda cans, natural wood and our ever so popular Bronze metals. We essentially promote Benin’s ORGANIC COTTON and artifacts ranking as the best in the world. From that vision came our mission statement of "making a better living from our local resources by the locals while thinking of the environment protection".

By purchasing our products, not only are you buying a lifestyle unique item that will elevate and amplify your wardrobe but also, you are contributing to a philanthropic act towards the hard working artisans and employees of OLOWOU. These highly valued individuals earn a living from OLOWOU that allows them to provide education opportunities to their children and live a comfortable lifestyle. Because we believe in never stopping to learn and are strong advocate of growth, we strive to support and better train our employees so they can continue to develop as strong members of our organization by improving their craftmanship and showcase talents that would otherwise be hidden, as well as make good use of the best organic cotton in the world abundantly available in Benin.

Thank you for supporting handcraft in Benin.