Meet The Man Behind The Doherty Collection

A Conversation with Kareem Doherty –

Awesome Chef, Keen Golfer, And The Best Baby Cousin

 

We launched our first collection for ULO Kitchen in August.  Hurrah! 

Delete that UberEats app, people! ULO has the perfect item to get you in the kitchen. 

Introducing The Doherty Collection – our vibrant range of stylish kitchen aprons designed and handmade in Melbourne using a clashing combination of high quality super wax fabrics and Ankara wax cotton sourced directly from Tanzania.  Each apron includes a generous stretched denim bucket pocket, dark navy herringbone straps, black oxide eyelets, and navy blue cotton drill lining.  What more do you need to get your cook on?!

 So, Why ‘The Doherty’?

ULO means Home in the native language of the Igbo people in Nigeria, West Africa. Inspired by my proud Nigerian heritage, ULO was created out of my love of clashing prints and textured fabric.  ULO’s collections are inspired by the cities that I have had, and continue to have, the privilege of calling Home.  These include Nigeria, London, Antigua, Sydney, and most recently, Melbourne.

For ULO to remain a personal and intimate representation of my Home, I decided to name each collection after family and friends. Drawing inspiration from their personalities has been a great way to develop the character of each collection from selecting palettes to choosing prints and fabrics.

So, without further ado, I would like to introduce you to my awesome ‘baby’ cousin, Mr. Kareem Doherty.  I say ‘baby’ because I still think of him as my 8 year old cousin, which is completely ridiculous because he is now 31 years old.

Kareem was my inspiration for this collection.  He is currently working at The Burgenstock Resort in Lucerne, Switzerland as a practician chef whilst completing his first internship program through the Cesar Ritz Institute.  He is also in the process of completing a Masters in Culinary Management.

Born in England, Kareem grew up in Nigeria (like myself), then moved to England and finally settled in Antigua, West Indies.  A keen traveller, Kareem has quite literally travelled all over the world visiting places such as Lagos, Kaduna, USA, Switzerland, France, Norway, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Italy, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, The Bahamas, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Martens, Dominica, Trinidad and Barbados - the list goes on.

When I spoke to Kareem about creating this collection, the first thing that I asked him was what does Home mean to him (considering he has lived in several countries). Kareem replied:

Home is where I spent most of my time growing up, and the place and culture I understand the most

His response instantly drew me to the Caribbean island of Antigua, where he has lived for many years.  I knew then that The Doherty collection would have to be bright, vibrant and bold, yet playful and refined to reflect the relaxed Antiguan style of living.  I, myself, lived in Antigua in 2012, so I was able to draw upon my memories of this incredible island.  For the Doherty collection, I selected prints and palettes that represented the ocean, the landscape, the climate and the incredibly friendly Antiguans who live a happy and full life (hence the High Life fabric on Doherty Apron No. 1). 

This collection has been incredibly nostalgic, creatively fulfilling and a lot of fun to put together, especially as I had the opportunity to collaborate with my cousin.

I hope that you can feel a little bit of the Caribbean magic when you throw on your Doherty Apron.

Anyway, enough about the Collection. 

Meet my cousin, Kareem Doherty.  I hope you enjoy getting to know him.

 1.         Where would you call Home?

Despite the fact that I have lived in several countries, I would have to say that I consider Antigua to be my home.  I grew up there, spending most of my primary and secondary school years there, and my mother and sister, and beautiful baby niece still live there.

2.         What does Home mean to you?

Home is everything to me.  The place and the culture that I connect with the most is where I consider Home to be.  Also, wherever my family is has to be Home. 

3.         Why did you decide to become a chef?

I was always in the kitchen when I was growing up.  I am lucky to be from a large Nigerian family, and for us, there is nothing better to do than to congregate in the kitchen, cook together, laugh and chat, and most importantly EAT!  Those are my strongest childhood memories.  And then as I grew older, I really enjoyed lighting up the BBQ, inviting friends over, and getting them to try new recipes that I created. 

 I also really enjoy preparing meals and hosting friends and family – from venturing to the market to buy fresh produce to setting up at home.  It wasn’t until I finished University that I realised I was obsessed with the kitchen, creating new recipes, and learning culinary techniques.  That’s when I knew that I wanted to be a chef!

4.         What were you doing before you decided to become a chef?

I was actually studying to get my PGA Diploma in South Africa. I am still very much obsessed with golf – it’s the only way that I can relax properly after spending crazy hours in the kitchen.

5.         What is your favourite dish to cook? 

My all time favourite dish is simple, yet delicious - homemade linguine, olive oil, sundried tomatoes, fresh arugula and crispy bacon. You can’t go wrong with those ingredients.  Keep it simple, that’s what I say.

 6.         What would you say is the most important cooking utensil you use regularly? 

I would have to say common sense.  Yep, I know you probably expected me to say some sort of awesome kitchen gadget, but for me common sense is my most important utensil when I am in the kitchen.  I often see people over-complicating simple recipes and wasting lots of time trying to make a dish look super fancy.  I have learnt that in this industry, time is money - keep things simple, pay attention to detail and use every second to your benefit.

 7.         What would you say is the most important cooking ingredient?

Love and passion - cook with those two ingredients and good things are bound to happen in the kitchen.

 8.         Who is your favourite chef and why? 

Anton Mosimann. I am currently reading his book Life is a Circus.  I am inspired by his determination to always be a good chef.  His achievements in the culinary world are amazing.  If I achieve a fraction of his success, I will happy. 

 9.          What is your ultimate career dream/goal?

One day, I hope to own a boutique lodge by the ocean with a golf course and an amazing restaurant.  That way, I can combine my three passions - cooking fresh seafood, coaching and playing golf, and hosting guests.

 10.          What do you hope to achieve in the next 5 years? 

I have lots to keep me busy in the next 5 years - complete my Masters, work at a Michelin Restaurant and connect with potential investors to discuss my future goals.

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If you want to get your hands on a Doherty Apron, then head on down to the Finders Keepers Market in Melbourne (19/10-21/10) or shop directly via our website.

Kareem Doherty in Lucerne, Switzerland

Kareem Doherty in Lucerne, Switzerland

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Kareem is currently working at The Burgenstock Resort in Lucerne, Switzerland as a practician chef.

Kareem is currently working at The Burgenstock Resort in Lucerne, Switzerland as a practician chef.

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ULO - Go Bold or Go Home!

So, what/who is ULO?

Well, I thought it was about time I do the honours and introduce you to our company!

At ULO, we aim to celebrate the traditional vibrant textiles of Africa and juxtapose them against contemporary prints to produce bold and luxurious homewares. The name ULO was derived from the Igbo phrase ‘ụlọ anyi’ which translates to ‘Our Home’.  All of our designs are intended to inject explosions of colour and vibrancy into your home. 

What can I say? At ULO, we have very little restraint.  In fact, we very much live by the phrase ‘Go bold or go home’!

As a Nigerian, who was raised both in Lagos and London, I was always surrounded by colour, vibrancy and chaos.  I also felt (and continue to feel) very privileged to call these two cities my home, especially as they are two of the most eclectic places in the world rich in culture, history and design. Likewise, after living in Sydney and then Melbourne for five years, I also feel incredibly lucky to add Australia to my list of my homes. It is incredibly important to me that when our customers visit ULO either through our website, our social media platforms, or Pop Up stores (and hopefully one day, our own retail store!), that you all experience somewhat the essence of what home has meant to me over the years – comfort, joy, and vibrancy.

When I was creating ULO, I decided to base its personality on my family’s character - loud, clashing, vibrant, opinionated, bold and confident!  In fact, you may have noticed that every ULO collection is named after a relative or a friend who continue to play a huge role in our life and home.  As my husband and I are both passionate about interior design and are equally dedicated to incorporating our cultures into our home, I also wanted to ensure that the products we design and produce at ULO continue to represent who we are and what our home means to us.

So, what fabrics do we work with at ULO?

Well, they are a combination of contemporary fabrics, which we purchase worldwide, and a mix of African wax and Ankara fabrics with batik printing which we source directly from various areas of Africa.  African wax prints and Ankara fabrics are common materials which are used for clothing particularly in West Africa.  They are industrially produced colourful cotton cloths with batik printing.  Historically, the wax prints were believed to be a part of a non-verbal way of communication among African women, which enabled them to carry their messages out into the world, and they still continue to be named after personalities, cities, buildings, traditional sayings or occasions. 

Likewise, African batik fabrics are originally influenced by batik, an Indonesian (Javanese) method of dyeing cloth by using wax-resist techniques whereby wax is melted and then patterned across the blank cloth.  From there, the cloth is soaked in dye, which is prevented from covering the entire cloth by the wax.  Ankara is different from batik in that it is made through the Dutch wax method which was created during the colonization of Indonesia in the 1800s.  They had a strong reception in West Africa when Dutch trading vessels introduced the fabrics in those ports.  As a result, the Dutch wax prints quickly integrated themselves into African apparel.

At ULO, we aim to celebrate the beauty, vibrancy and chaos of all of these traditional materials and marry them with contemporary designs.  We are also incredibly proud that all our products are handmade right here in Melbourne.  As easy as it would be to ship off our designs to an overseas manufacturer (for half the cost), we are determined to celebrate and champion local Australian manufacturers.  This of course means that we are committed to ensuring that our design and production processes remain in-house.

We also do not believe in waste – whether it be fabric waste or general production waste.  We are incredibly passionate about our zero waste policy and initiative, and as a result, we recently launched a separate collection online titled ‘Waste Not, Want Not’.  This collection allows our team to produce items using fabrics and materials which did not make the main collections, therefore ensuring that less of everything ends up in our waste bins.  As we often say at ULO, we prefer less in bins and more in store!

Well, I could go on much longer but I won’t.  I hope this gives you a snapshot of what ULO is all about, what we value as a team, and what we hope to achieve over the years to come. 

We do not shy away from excess – in fact, we pride ourselves on bold designs, and our ability to celebrate the contemporary with the traditional.

Welcome to ULO.

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