Exclusive Interview With Dr Sophia Omoro Founder, Designer and CEO Of odAOMO
A truly unique brand, odAOMO produces garments and accessories from eco-friendly materials in Kenya. The leather, hide, shell, snake and fish skin goods are constructed of food byproducts and found materials so no lives are harmed for fashion. The fine silks, cashmere blends and cottons used are sourced from an independent Kenyan textile distribution, run by two young Kenyan women. The African textiles are collected throughout the Continent. Each piece is handcrafted and produced in limited batches creating an exclusive and organically nuanced line.
Where some philanthropic entities choose to focus on charity, odAOMO and Dr. Omoro empower through opportunity. odAOMO employs a small team in Kenya with fair wages– Douglas, the label’s leather craftsman, and Valentine, the primary jeweler—that have a profound economic impact on their respective villages.
Here are some of OdAOMO Hewa 2018 Collections
When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a fashion and Jewel designer?
Dr. Sophia Omoro: This has always been part of my life’s purpose, even as I pursued medicine and philanthropy. As most people in Kenya, we designed our own clothing (as opposed to purchasing off the rack), and our seamstress mother made all the dresses of the 6 girls in the family. When I got the opportunity to study abroad, I realized that custom clothing was not the norm. I longed for my own style and found myself altering many of the clothes I bought. When friends and work colleagues noticed these custom designs, I knew I had a market, and I, therefore, had to pursue fashion.
How would you describe your personal style?
Dr. Sophia Omoro: Edgy, bold, classic, and global. I love many designers, but I am partial to classic non-trendy pieces. I am not afraid to stand out in a positive way.
Where can we find your designs?
Dr. Sophia Omoro: Our flagship store is located in the heart of the French Quarter, New Orleans Louisiana. I am so proud to come home with our second shop at the Village market. The new wing, We also pop up frequently in different locations, so follow us on Instagram @odaomo and @odaomo_kenya, and of course, you can always find us online at odaomo.com
What’s your target market?
Dr. Sophia Omoro: The range of ladies who wear odAOMO has humbly surprised me. My youngest customer has been a 14-year-old who returns over and over. My oldest is a 65-year-old fashionista. We have blurred ethnic and cultural boundaries, and have many non-African clients proudly wearing our beaded pieces. We are truly global, and thus I find it hard to put a bracket around a targeted group.
Where do you see Odaomo in the next 5 years?
Dr. Sophia Omoro: My plan has always been and still remains to have a physical representation on each continent. Two continents down thus far!
Your fashion shows often take place in unusual locations and they always revolve around a certain topic. Why is this different approach so important for you?
Dr. Sophia Omoro: At the end of the day, we are all here on earth for a purpose. That purpose should be furthered on each and every platform or opportunity. We want to inspire, uplift, and give hope to each person who graces us with their time and presence. Each time.
A women’s collection can usually speak for itself, but a straightforward runway show of a men’s collection often fails to have an effect on people.
Do you have any plans in the future to start men’s designs?
Dr. Sophia Omoro: I have repeatedly received this request…I am working on it! I promise
What is the weirdest collaboration somebody has approached you with so far?
Dr. Sophia Omoro: “Weird” to me is just another word for “different”, and therefore an opportunity and challenge for growth. We had a request to collaborate with a runway for cute little doggies (I have a weakness). Although ultimately it did not happen for many reasons, I was totally up for it !
Collaborations with other companies are becoming more and more important for designers. Are they a good way of cashing in? Although yours has been very successful, having elegant women wear?
Dr. Sophia Omoro: I feel that there is enough room on this globe for all of us designers. Collaborations can therefore only strengthen the cause. I think if we lead with a pure heart and goal, the cash always follows.
Is it easier for you to find inspiration for Women because you have a closer relationship to those clothes?
Dr Sophia Omoro: I think being a female who wears many hats (I am a surgeon as well), I understand the need for a woman to feel feminine, confident, beautiful, and enhanced. Especially when you are in a position that involves visibility. I understand the need for this fine balance and try to design accordingly.
If you were given the opportunity to work with a local or international fashion designer who will you love to work with?
Dr. Sophia Omoro: I love Alaia and Alexander McQueen! Would love to throw in some Kenyan vibe into those amazing silhouettes.
What’s your take on the Kenya fashion industry and Africa in general?
Dr. Sophia Omoro: It is our time !!! We are coming into our own, appreciating and embracing our color, culture, hair, body types, and it is close to a fashion resolution. So glad to be in the midst of it all.
The designs you created are no doubt good enough, but who and which things were your inspiration while creating such designs what’s the secret?
Dr. Sophia Omoro: My mother is my inspiration. She was a master seamstress. In retrospect I am so grateful for her making us hand hem, stitch, sew buttonholes, touch and feel fabric, “run” the oiled sewing machine, etc (we thought it was torture at the time!) She taught me the art of making a garment with proper seaming, paneling, and never skimping on fabric amount or quality. It is ultimately what results in a beautiful well-fitting garment. It’s all in the details and love.
There’s so much pressure for designers to come out with their greatest collection season after season.
What advice would you give to young designers just starting out and hoping to make it in the industry?
Dr. Sophia Omoro: Stay true to who you are. Your aesthetic heartbeat should be clearly manifest in your collections. Go at your pace. Life is not a race, it’s a journey.
your closing remarks and advice to young Africa fashion designers who view you as their mentor
Dr. Sophia Omoro: Never lose your verve, your soul, and your creativity. Don’t get angry when your designs are copied..take it as a compliment and run harder. As you run, pace yourself as though on a marathon..not a sprint.
Content Courtesy Of odAOMO & Nairobi Fashion Hub