Bold, bright, and handcrafted from the finest Italian leather at Olayebi’s factory in Ibadan, Nigeria, FemiHandbags is a luxury leather handbag line that offers a range of showstopping arm-candy inspired by simple, classic shapes. Its designer, Femi Olayebi—a translator turned self-taught handbag designer and manufacturer—first tried her hand as an entrepreneur when she made a baby bag for her first child. She’s since debuted her inaugural collection at Pure London in 2010 and gone on to present at London Fashion Week; she’s also appeared on CNN Marketplace Africa in a feature that investigated leather’s role in the Nigerian economy. Other achievements include being a recipient of the Goldman Sachs ‘10,000 Women’ scholarship, founding the Lagos Leather Fair, and winning the WEConnect International Certified Women’s Business Enterprise Award.
Today she has a loyal local and international fanbase, and credits her silhouette inspirations to classic, vintage bags. Elements such as whipstitched sides, hand-stitched, rolled handles, and hand sewn straps have become some of the brand’s signature features. There’s also an unabashed confidence to the brand’s artisanal creations, a confidence that it no doubt imparts to its wearer: the color blocking and combination of unexpected shades speak to the brave while the touches of nickel hardware, Aso-Oke (a type of hand-woven cloth created by the Yoruba people of west Africa), and fringe detailing bestow upon them a little fun, movement and cultural significance. The pieces saturated in color, prismatic tones and a vivid color palette have come to form part of the brand’s signature.
Olayebi is also a huge advocate for “Made in Nigeria” products, and has proven that with excellent craftsmanship and infrastructure in place, her brand has the ability to compete in the luxury marketplace. Speaking to The Guardian Nigeria, Olayebi mentioned her key to success: “We have always benchmarked our brand against our favourite international brands, and are therefore very particular about high standards and about exceeding customer expectations.”
- Fashions Finest Africa, Best Handbag Designer of the Year, 2018
- Fashions Finest Africa, Best Handbag Designer of the Year, 2017