April 27, 2016
Maker SpotlightAfter a weekend full of sunshine, we can’t wait to update our wardrobes with the best in the Slow Fashion Revolution. For all you gals out there, Osei-Duro is bringing their LA x Ghana magic to the feminine form with their distinctly bold patterns and hand-dyed textiles.
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind it?
In Ghana, Osei is a prefix often applied to chiefs, and means nobel, powerful or one who can crush another. Duro is a Fante word derived from the name Oduro which means “medicine”, or “witchcraft”. So together, we combine them to mean Noble or Powerful Medicine.
Have you always been passionate about design?
Yes, since childhood both Molly Keogh and I (Maryanne Mathias) made doll clothes and then attended design school.
When/Why did you start working in this particular craft/field?
After quitting my design job in 2007, I traveled around the world researching traditional textiles in emerging markets. I ended up designing capsule collections in different countries such as Ghana, Morocco, Egypt and India. The sales from the designs funded my trip, but after 1.5 years I wanted to dig deeper and create something more meaningful and long term. Osei-Duro was that.
What do you think sets your designs apart from others?
Our aesthetic and approach to traditional textiles in contemporary clothing.
Have you sacrificed anything to create your business? If so, what was it, and do you have any regrets?
We’ve both sacrificed the ability to earn higher incomes. But we don’t have any regrets. We’ve done so many interesting things. Life in Osei-Duro is never boring!
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
When we first started, Molly and I were sharing a bed. She wasn’t wearing underwear, only a nightshirt. I kneed her in the crotch. It was a little gross. Since then, we made up our working title “The Perils of Sleeping with your Business Partner.”
How does the city you live in influence your work?
Accra, Ghana is a vibrant and intense city. Ghanaian’s aren’t afraid of colour, and their traditional textiles are still very prevalent in their clothing. We are passionate about taking the traditional techniques and creating contemporary clothing from them.
What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
Both Molly and I had degrees in fashion design. I had a small fashion company based out of Montreal, and Molly was a costumer in Los Angeles. I also have an MBA.
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
I’ve always hated working for other people.
What are some inspirations for your work?
The world, street fashion, traditional textiles, culture, poverty, the dynamics of race and social economics, traditional textiles, women’s rights, ethical fashion, consumerism, development, art.
What are some tips or suggestions you’d like to offer to fellow makers?
Be prepared to work really hard with little or no financial gain for a long time!