Oluwafolakemi Anthonia Arinde, also known as HRH (Her Royal Highness), weaves and sells Aso Oke.
She got interested in the business after watching a documentary on Aso Oke on TV. “I was watching a program on Star Times NTA Yoruba; it was a documentary on Aso Oke weavers in Owo, Ondo State. What caught my attention was the fact that they were mostly elderly women and they kept emphasising that the younger generation were not interested in the business again because the only want jobs that would bring quick money. So if care was not taken, the business would go into extinction. That aroused my interest but I was a little confuse how to go about it because I knew no one in Owo. Coincidentally, I was planning my sister’s wedding and I had to make arrangements for the couples’ Aso Oke. My mum suggested I go to Ilorin since we are from Kwara state and its woven there; I got there and it seemed like an answer to my prayers. I asked the man I contracted for the job how much it would cost to train me and how long it would take? He laughed and said he didn’t think I could do the job, I told him I was coming back after the wedding and the rest is history.”
She mentioned that one of the major challenges is convincing clients that the quality of the Chinese-machine made Aso Oke sold in the markets cannot be compared with the traditional hand woven ones because the latter are timeless and everlasting. While the Chinese ones might have an almost perfect finish, they are not as durable.
On what gives her inspiration, the Aso Oke weaver says she draws inspiration from works of experts ahead of her, shapes and designs on Adire and Batik materials and modern and vibrant colours around.
“I was contracted to work on mufflers for the 1987 MBBS/BDS set of University of Ibadan, these are men and women who are professors in different fields of medicine I was just a few months old when they graduated, so it was an honour and I felt blessed,” Folakemi explained about the project that made her believe in herself.
Now, she is looking forward to being part of local and international Exhibition Markets
Folakemi believes youth empowerment
“Should be encouraged as this helps our youths to be self reliant and employed without having to turn to crime even without the availability of white collar jobs. With government encouragement starting from local community up to the federal level youths should be empowered not just by words of encouragement but with financial aids to help bring forth their talents and capabilities.”
You can contact her on Facebook on Arinde Folake,
Instagram handle: foladunni1asooke or
call her direct line on 08092230095