odAOMO, which is ‘The House of Aomo’ in the Luo language, is an eco-friendly and ethically handcrafted brand made in Kenya. Founded by Dr. Sophia Aomo Omoro, the brand was officially launched in the USA in August 2014 and most recently in Kenya in December 2018. This modern women’s wear line, with a timeless and cross-cultural aesthetic, encompasses apparel, accessories – such as belts, bags, jewellery – and one of a kind wearable art pieces in beads, pearls and ostrich egg shells.
The eponymous brand name embodies the significance of naming in Africa. With three collections under their belt, it’s apparent that odAOMO embodies the essence of Aomo, which translates to a ‘time of harvest’, in their design’s philosophy. It reminds us of the universal law of the harvest; which is similar to the law of cause and effect. That is, there’s an output to every input or the adage’ ‘you reap what you sow’.
Dr. Sophia Aomo Omoro, odAOMO
“Limited collections, from a handmade-production standpoint, ensures quality, fair working conditions and allows for true organic growth.”
It’s also representative of the great matriarch that Dr. Aomo was named after. Her strong and remarkable survival story, as well as her entrepreneurial legacy lives on through many of her female grandchildren. TDS had the pleasure to speak to Dr. Aomo Omoro to find out more about odAOMO. But first:
Who is Dr. Sophia Aomo Omoro?
She is the Chief Executive Officer & Sole Designer behind the odAOMO label. She was born and raised in Kenya, to a seamstress mother, who greatly influenced her passion for fashion from a very young age. As a child, she and her siblings would simply draw a garment of choice and their talented mother would take this from a crude drawing, to a pattern, and ultimately a completed garment. Of course the downside to this was that hems were invariably much longer than requested, the garments much looser, and perhaps worst of all, at least three of the six girls always had the same dress and/or fabric at any given time. Nevertheless, although then naively unappreciated, the luxury of well-made, fashionable, “custom” clothing seeded her subsequent pursuit of her own line.
In the interim, her education and subsequent medical career took her from Kenya, to Victoria, BC, Huntsville, AL, New Orleans, LA, Seattle, WA, and now Covington, LA. She remains a dedicated, fully practicing Otolaryngology surgeon, while she finds balance in fashion and philanthropy. Her fashion career up to now includes a strong stretch as a runway model for top designers. This “insider” understanding of the importance of wearable and practical fashion has helped guide her designs. She proudly shares this with you.
“We must strive to preserve and not destroy, especially for fashion.”
Dr. Sophia Aomo Omoro, odAOMO
The label boasts a luxurious line of unique garments and accessories, individually handmade in Kenya by a handpicked core team. Exclusively designed by Dr. Sophia Aomo Omoro, the underlying aesthetic is an effortless combination of cross-cultural beauty foci. The result is a metamorphic, very wearable collection with a global appeal. Only very limited quantities are made, making the collection very exclusive.
How do you balance your work as an Otolaryngologist with running a fashion brand? And do your medical skills impact your design philosophy or execution?
I believe that all of us can do whatever we set out to do. Although there are finite hours in a day, within a finite life…careful dedication and planning of one’s time can yield an amazing amount of “extra minutes” in an hour. Balance is essential in everyone’s life, regardless of what one is doing. Mine just comes in balancing “big” things. I am a big dreamer.
Precision and attention to details are two skills that I can cross reference in both surgery and fashion design. Meticulous attention and step-by-step execution is what ultimately yields a great and desired outcome. This is in both fields.
Why did you start the brand and why did you decide to open a store in Nairobi?
odAOMO is essentially my give back efforts to the wonderful talent that mostly lays dormant in our country. With the right chance, people can shine and share a global platform deservingly. We have an amazing country with rich culture and tradition. I felt that this deserved a voice.
The brand offers a range of fashion products and accessories. Moreover, an array of materials…
I wanted to have a one stop shop, head to toe options for the discerning woman. Where she walks away with only a statement piece, that too can elevate her closet in a fresh and unique timeless way. I explored unusual materials in an unusual way, and also usual materials in a new and unusual way. This gives a fresh heartbeat to those things that have been part of our tradition…like the Maasai beads and shells from ostrich eggs.
Speaking of statement pieces, what inspired the decision to create exclusive and collectible pieces/collections?
Everyone should feel special…one of the ways of feeling special is to be unique, to shine brighter, stand taller…limited and excusive collections give a chance of standing out, uniquely. Additionally, limited collections, as opposed to mass, from a handmade-production standpoint, ensures quality, fair working conditions and allows for true organic growth.
Why is this important for your brand to be eco-friendly?
I think that if, as human beings, we prescribe to the mind-set that we are but a small part of this wonderful earth that we live on for a short time, then we would treat it with respect and with a spirit of conservation. The earth then is able to give us it’s best, both now, and for our future generations. We must strive to preserve and not destroy, especially for fashion.
Who is the odAOMO woman?
We target the fashion forward, confident purposeful woman. She has no age bracket, and no ethnicity. She is truly a global citizen, global minded and globally aware. She embraces cultural differences and incorporates these into her wardrobe and style, with the knowledge that this simply truly enriches her as a strong leader.
What sets the brand apart from other fashion houses on the continent?
Our heartbeat of philanthropy. We are about people first. Each member of our team is crucial, and thus treated. We treat each and every customer with grace and gratitude for their time and consideration of us. Our obligation then is to not only give them the best experience, but the best product in every respect. People first, and the business follows.
Interestingly, you also offer ‘private shopping and personal styling services to clients’…
We found that we were rapidly becoming the “to go to” brand for stylists. Within our team, we have the talent for styling, creating and merchandising. It was therefore only natural that we directly offer these services, especially to those clients who may otherwise not have access to a personal stylist.
Tell us a little bit about your most recent collection– DUNIA.
This was based on the gifts offered to us by our world. From the people who live in it, to the organic elements such as light, air and even darkness. From the changing seasons, which bring us a chance to sow and harvest, to the micro and macro-cosm of other lives that intertwine with our own, to make our life possible. Simply put, I wanted to highlight the many unspoken lessons and experiences that our world offers daily… for free.
It’s been four years since you launched odAOMO, what are some moments that stand out for you?
We recently were chosen by Hannah Beachler, a groundbreaking Production Designer, to walk the red carpet with her by providing numerous head to toe looks for her journey of awards and accolades this season. She is the Award winning Production Designer of the acclaimed movie, Black Panther. We are truly honoured.
What’s next for the brand in 2019?
We will grow our styling arm in Kenya and in the USA, and plan for a very ground breaking show in Kenya this summer…stay tuned!