#WomanCrushWednesday: Haowa Bello

Our Woman Crush Wednesday Haowa Bello is a goat farmer and handbag designer.

Haowa is the daughter of a career diplomat. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. She attended Parson’s School of Design, New York and trained at Academia Riacci, Florence, Italy in handbag making.

The intelligent beauty is the founder of Fula Farms, a commercial goat farm in Lekki, Lagos, 10 years ago, she set up Madame Coquette (MC), a line of meticulously handcrafted handbags made in Nigeria which are 70% handmade and 30% machine finished. With minimal use of machinery, local artisans use traditional tools and methods to fabricate a variety of high-quality goatskin bags and purses and each piece is hand cut and carefully put together with an awesome craftsmanship and attention to detail.

Apart from producing locally, MC committedly promotes artisanship and skill development it the community.

The designer started off with a N30,000 loan from her sister in the mid-2000s. With the money in her back pocket, she set off for a market to track down an artisan to make her first design.

In 2008, her first bags were sold and a grant of $25,000 from the Nigerian government allowed Bello to acquire livestock and grow her business.

Madame Coquette has produced not less than 600 leather bags and keeps about 60 goats. Fula Farm is a commercial goat farm, but it is not only expected to provide healthy meat, it supplies tanneries with a superior source of goat skin which will be processed into high-quality leather.

It’s a world away from New York, London, and Berlin, but that’s where some of Bello’s goatskin leather ends up — as Madame Coquette bags on boutique shelves in some of the world’s most fashionable cities.

In 2015, the brand was featured on CNN’s African Voices in November 2015.

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