Ulo ✿ Putting an African face to lockdown


27 July 2020

The lockdown offers an opportunity mask up with African prints—umswenko!

Dinzi Amobi is a textile maker in Melbourne originally from Nigeria. She has established a workshop at Abbotsford Convent where she produces clothing from the wax prints she grew up with. Dinzi uses her family connections to source prints from local markets and wholesale vendors in Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania.

I grew up in Nigeria up until the age of 8 years old and I still have a lot of family there so I have been lucky to build strong relationships with the fabric vendors in those areas.  My plan was to return to Nigeria later this year to meet with some of the vendors but we have had to postpone this trip until all is well again.  We now rely on Zoom and conference calls to look at fabrics and make our selections, a sample of each fabric is then sent to our studio and we use that for fit, design and quality testing before we order more yardage.  It is a long process and one that has become a logistical challenge since the pandemic set in but nevertheless we appear to be managing it very well.  My hope with the business is to eventually build up a collection of prints and fabrics from all regions of Africa and showcase those through various collections.

My mother is a retired NHS doctor in London so I was able to get some first-hand advice regarding the design of our masks and on what the requirements are for non-surgical purposes. All our masks are made from our extensive fabric collection some of which featured in previous collections.  We have a limited supply of this fabric so we can only make a certain number of face masks.

The name of her business, ULO, means “home” in the native language of the Igbo people in Nigeria, 10% of our online sales are donated to Beyond Blue. You can order your masks here.

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