HOW IT ALL STARTED
I have always loved fashion and wanted to do something African fashion related for the longest. Growing up under the wings of an African fashionista mother (from Ghana and Nigeria) carved the style crave in me from day one. Her bazaar of African print clothing always fascinated and inspired me. I grew up around them and today they are almost growing on everything around me.
My mother is the one in the patterned African print in 1970, Lagos, Nigeria
Aside from being aesthetic pieces of clothing in my life, African prints played a pivotal role in encouraging me on the path of being the confident woman I am today.
I was born with a conspicuous red birthmark on the left side of my face. In Elementary school, kids often teased and bullied me verbally. They referred to me as a “Red face monster” or “Your-mother-must-have-slapped-you-with-a-red-spoon.” These negative remarks stabbed my self-worth to the point I believed I was truly a hideous monster. This ordeal became the genesis of my traumatic odyssey in the world of self-rejection and timidity. I did not have a sense of belonging among my peers and felt all alone.
With my parents Dr. and Mrs. Oyairo in 1967 in Lagos, Nigeria. They were wearing African prints.
My darling mother, (my inspiration, embodiment of strength and biggest cheerleader) always encouraged and consoled me. She repeatedly declared to me “You are going to be great,” “You are beautiful” and “You are somebody.” For the longest, I didn’t believe her – after all, she was my mother and wouldn’t tell me otherwise.
My mother - Elizabeth Oyairo in 1976, 1991 and 1965.
It was during this phrase of my life that my mother’s closet of African and western clothing offered me solace and eventually an identity. I played a lot with her clothes, mixed and matched them and often designed some in my head. Her closet was an oasis of colors, boldness and hope – a vivid representation of my mother. I was free to be and ultimately do “me.” Her style was the first spark that eventually ignited the fire of confidence in me.
Dressed in African print (Aso-oke) at a diplomatic function in Rome, Italy in 1990 with my mother and an official of the embassy.
My faith and positive affirmations played a crucial role in unshackling me from self-worthlessness. I became convinced people were noticing me for my fashion and not my red birthmark. African fashion took me to another dimension. I became skilled in provoking attention anytime I showed up in my custom-made African attire. The vibrant colors and patterns most times announced my presence.
Oludan was birth in 2016 with a young woman convincing me to take the first step. I did and the rest is history. The name is a coined combination of the names of my two sons: Olumide and Daniel.
As a result of the insecurities and rejection that plagued me growing up, Oludan gives a percentage from the sales of all Oludan products to empowering girls experiencing self-worthlessness, bullying and low self-esteem. They benefit from educational and mentoring programs that teach them to seek validation from within and not from wrong channels.
There are new designs every month and happy customers remains the best icing on our African clothing cake.
May Oyairo - Photo credit: Cindy Arthur Photography
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