Leather and Patina by MbiOulou
Her name is Nathalie Nkoulou but she is better known as Nath’s Sweet Designer by her friends and customers. She hails from Cameroon and currently resides there although she had spent several years living in Europe. This beautiful and talented entrepreneur has a deep love and strong passion for art and crafts despite possessing a Master’s degree in Business and Administration from the Lausanne Business School in Switzerland. She resisted the strong urge to remain in Switzerland and returned to Cameroon after more than 20 years to follow her dream of becoming a craftswoman.
In a correspondence with our Editor, she describes her journey so far into the leather-making business. In her own words: “I admit that for this, I have made a lot of sacrifices backed up with patience and hard work. My dream came true in November 2019 with the creation of MbiOulou, a fashion brand that specializes in the art of patina, thus bringing to life the love I have for Africa – for my country Cameroon, in the creation of leather goods such as bags, shoes, belts, purses and other accessories. At first, it looked like I didn’t have a head on my shoulders when I left Europe and returned to Cameroon but I couldn’t help it: crafts and art is my whole life! I’m self-taught and I’ve mastered the art of making leather goods with one goal in mind: to restore the beauty and aesthetics of African craftsmanship by turning mundane creations into luxury items of impeccable quality.”
At MbiOulou, the goal is to (re)give colour to leather products which distinguishes them from the great classics of traditional leather goods. They turn ordinary items into unique and authentic pieces. The beauty of their craftsmanship is detailed in the manner by which they take a piece of raw leather, design and dye it and then proceed to assembling and sewing these pieces together – all entirely handmade with care.
Nathalie concludes by saying that: “It’s true that working on tanned leather in an eco-friendly way, making inlays, patina, dyeing, engraving, or painting are, by no means, easy tasks. We have to marry, shell and analyse the different techniques of each craft and apply such knowledge to the creation of stunning pieces before making them available to lovers of beautiful materials, dandyism and fashion to patronise us and purchase our various accessories, derbies, moccasins, boots or Richelieus that are made with amazing patina.”