Hamaji Magazine met the stylist Yeba Olaye, who opened up in a long interview.
Tell us about your latest collection “The Story of Freedom”, what it represents and how did you get the ideas.
The Story of Freedom” was designed as a journey to the land of the Savè Hills in Benin, where I come from. Here the earth is reddened by rust, while the sky is blue like paradise. The white chalk is associated with wisdom and peace, and the orange is an invitation to adventure and risk-taking.
Each bag was inspired by the symbolic objects we cherish in my family, all shining their power on you to protect you from the fears you may have. The shapes were inspired by the traditional Beninese African sculptures, dances and costumes. These pieces have always fuelled my vision.
I imagined them as precious pieces to carry all your treasures – be it courage, pride or passion, the kind of bag that a queen adorns, driven by the desire to fulfil her true self.
This latest collection is a celebration and tribute to my African roots. It’s my way of reconciling the two worlds that exist within me, the worlds that make me the person I am today.
What makes Yeba special ?
Yeba is a contemporary leather goods house with African influences, created to empower women through allowing them to realise their potential and reveal their greatness. But Yeba is more than that, it’s also an inspirational media platform. We have a continuous podcast sharing extensive content that aims to bring our mission and values of care, excellence and inclusivity to our international community of women – our “Yeba tribe”.
Made in Italy, in the region of Venice, our bags are the result of quality work and passion, each reflecting the humane and responsible approach we adopt to our product design.
Do you intend to diversify your products ?
Eventually, I would like to offer other accessories such as silk scarves or squares, shoes, belts or jewellery. In a corner of my mind, there is a nice wardrobe of essential pieces that I would love to develop for the modern amazons that Yeba women are. Maybe one day.
What can we expect from Yeba in the coming months, both in terms of the brand, the podcast and your various commitments ?
The news of the fall is very exciting for Yeba. Obviously, a new collection, but also nice collaborations with sister African brands. What I’m particularly passionate about is usingg the brand to make a positive impact in other people’s lives. Today, when you buy a Yeba bag, we donate a part of it to the NGO Wanignon Enfance, and organisation that works to allow children, often little girls, the opportunity to follow a normal schooling career. We intend to support this approach and are looking to associate ourselves with a foundation soon.
Concerning our collections, as the notions of know-how, ancestral craftsmanship and transmission are very important to me. I would like to find a way to work with local workshops, in Africa and even elsewhere, to design products labelled as ‘Made in Africa’.
Our commitment as a brand is to support the global advancement of women, to improve the conditions of women everywhere – and especially in Africa, to create employment opportunities, to micro-finance projects and to provide school fees for little girls.
Yeba Olaye, thank you.
Interview by Brigitte Mbaz for Hamaji Magazine – August 2021