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.