Maureen Obaweya has been on the cutting edge of making quality leather goods in Africa for over two decades. Her use of shape and color is unique in the industry. With her own carefully curated handbag collection, designer Maureen Obaweya is the perfect person to guide the way. Not only are her bags patterns are of international standard and up to date in style, but her fantastic personal sense of style and keen eye for design also offer a unique opportunity to tap her expertise. In this exclusive interview with PLEASURES MAGAZINE, Maureen shares Morin O brand story and tricks on collecting, protecting, and preserving your precious items – and tips on achieving success.
May we know who Maureen Obaweya is?
Maureen (Morin) Obaweya is a creative entrepreneur, founder and head designer at Morin.O, a contemporary luxury leather handbags and accessories brand out of Africa to the world.
We were so intrigued when we discovered about your handbag collection online. Let’s talk about Morin.O brand, what is it all about ?
Morin.O is a contemporary leather accessories brand inspired by artistic innovation and ethnic designs for the sassy, confident and fashionable individual. We pride ourselves in the production of exclusive handcrafted leather accessories to accentuate your style.
Founded by savvy contemporary African art collector and veteran Maureen (Morin) Obaweya , our core strength lies in our commitment and ethos of being the best in the leather goods industry through service, attention to detail and strong commitment to customer satisfaction.
Our Mission is to accentuate the individual style of the people we serve and to give them a platform to express their innate creative lifestyle thus giving them a powerful means of expression and fulfillment.
These are not just made in Africa bags, Morin.O is of international standard, I mean world class. What attracted you to designing handbag, especially leather work?
Prior to my designing handbags, I founded and ran an art gallery called Lifestrokes Art Gallery, where I was promoting African art and crafts people and traveling throughout Africa to showcase and promote the arts, but I was not expressing my personal talent preferring to be behind the scenes as it were, despite a lot of prodding and encouragement by my husband and my friends. In 2010 I was then invited and sponsored by Vital Voices to attend a training designed for Women Entrepreneurs in Handcraft in Accra Ghana, there I met diverse women from all over Africa showcasing and designing their own lines of creativity, that spurred me on to explore mine and settle for leather as my preferred canvas and began my design journey in the world of handbags.
When did you first knew you wanted to be a designer and where did your design aesthetic comes from?
I have always loved the arts and creativity and come from a family of creative people so inherently from an early age I had the instinct but it evolved to full bloom a couple of years after I left University and found further expression in 2010.
My design aesthetic is a visionary confluence of my interpretation of people, scenery and motifs.
What are the differences between designing for the local and international market?
Beauty is universal but different cultures and markets have their individual tweaks and preferences, however a well designed and structured piece always transcends borders.
What makes your work different compared to your peers?
Deep Aesthetic Appeal, Authenticity, Strong attention to detail.
Of your own designs, which are your favorite to carry?
The Asake and Demure, both are part of our earliest and initial pieces.
Some brands appreciate greatly in value over time, making handbags a worthy investment. Do you have any advice for women who want to start investing in a handbag collection, but don’t know where to start?
Classic Timeless designs made from premium grade leather always stand the test of time.
Every successful story has rocky beginnings. Can you remember some of the challenges you faced and how you overcame them?
We had wanted to start small and grow the brand at our own pace but from the first line of bags we designed, the reception was overwhelming and we grew faster than our internal growth at the time, this brought upon us problems of insufficient capital, production capacity and some difficult logistics issues. We however quickly began to look for ways to build our capacity to mitigate those issues by training, exploring diverse access to finance opportunities and growing our supply management capacities.
How has the digital world shaped your business and design process?
Increasingly, we have leveraged on the digital world to promote, enhance and improve our brand and our systems and processes.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
The need for Personal Development and the correct paradigms you must develop to enhance your business.
Financial Skills and Competencies.
What advice would you give to the upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Be passionate about your business and craft.
Hone your skills and strive to be the best in all you do, it’s not enough to do things just well, you must do things very well.
Develop systems and processes in your business, structure your business and be intentional about it.
Do you sell online or stores?, take us through where or how to purchase Morin.O bags.
We sell online through our e commerce website www.morin-o.com as well as in our stores in Lagos located at Suite F23 Cento Lekki Mall,Plot 69A,No 15, Admiralty Way,Lekki Phase 1 Lagos and our Kano Shop G59, Ado Bayero Mall,Zoo Road,Kano.We also are interested in selling through other stores and boutiques who may be interested in carrying the Morin.O brand both locally and Internationally.
How may you be contacted?
Morin.O Designs Ltd
F23,Centro Lekki Mall
Plot 65A,Block15,Admiralty Way,Lekki Phase1,Lagos
Tel: 234(0)8185736538, 234(0)33043822