We catch up with Dunnie Onasanya-Hasan, the businesswoman behind Olori Swim, on the purpose behind her new art and design gallery.
Nigerian creative Dunnie Onasanya-Hasan, popularly known as Dunnie OH, has amassed quite the following over the years serving #BodyGoals, #CoupleGoals and #MotherDaughterGoals. The Tuskegee University graduate who has always been a social butterfly got her start event producing and has gained a great reputation working on events like Facet Fashion Week and the Hollywood Confidential Series, a free event for individuals pursuing careers in entertainment to hear A-list talent speak on their trials and tribulations.
Today, Onasanya-Hasan is at the heart of Olori, a luxury swimwear line that blends American and Nigerian cultural influences and celebrates melanin rich queens. Her work, including the popular KenteKini, glorifies curves on women of all shapes and sizes and her muses are to die for.
Dunnie is doing more than "making women feel good and empowering them," as she puts it. She's an entrepreneur at the helm of a growing business. Olori Weekend, which took place at the end of September, was momentous for her as she celebrated her birthday, Nigerian Independence and the grand opening of the Olori Gallery of Art & Design.
The gallery, which she and her husband, Ibrahim Hasan, acquired in May is a work in progress, but Onasanya-Hasan hopes it will be a haven for all things African fashion and art. She's certainly off to a good start because it is currently home to abstract murals she created with her own hands. The murals comprised of stones, beads and gold pieces are nothing short of awe-inspiring.
She speaks candidly about what inspired the courage to create the murals."To be honest with you, as a kid I always liked drawing and painting," she says, "and my parents would say, 'You need to do your math and science.' They tried to sway me in that direction because this is what's going to make you money and you will have a career to be able to support your family. This isn't a bad way to think, but as a child I really wanted to explore being an artist."
Her husband, who is also a creative, has encouraged her to express herself through visual art. He told her to go for it on the gallery walls. "Over the years he has pulled a lot of that out of me," she says. "The murals are years of suppressed creativity. You are looking at liberation."
The gallery houses Onasanya-Hasan's personal collection of African inspired designs for stylists to pull for special events. She prides herself on being LA's go-to girl for such pieces and hopes the collection will expand. Finally, it's there that the Olori "small but mighty" team sews swimwear and custom ankara pieces of all kinds.
It should come as no surprise that Dunnie has chosen the path she has. "I am a Delta. I became student government president before I left Tuskegee University," she says, describing her college career. "I loved being involved and being a part of student life. Naturally, I am a social person, someone who likes to plan things for people, likes to make people feel good."
Onasanya-Hasan spends nights staying up until 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. ensuring her business is running smoothly while her husband serves as an incredible support system. Her 2-year-old daughter, who shares a middle name with the brand, holds her own as she supposedly "runs things around the gallery." I inquire how she balances her work as well as being a mother/wife. "By the grace of God, I have been balancing my work and personal life," she says. "I am learning every day. There are days I will sit down and think I suck. I think having a supportive partner is the key. Do you have someone that gets you and allows you to make strides towards your goals? I take things one day at a time and try to prioritize. I try to make sure they are clothed and fed."
Olori flourishes in a retail space that is more accepting of cultural diversity. "I am a proud Nigerian," Onasanya-Hasan affirms. "Both of my parents are Yoruba. I love the fact that people are now embracing African culture and heritage. I remember when I was a kid it wasn't cool to wear African print. I was called African booty scratcher. I hated having braids and now you can't catch me without them. It's just very funny how things flip flop. I'm glad that I can really be myself and really do what I love."
There are times where she is apprehensive, but she is confidently pushing forward in the direction of her dreams. "It is okay to be wrong sometimes," Onasanya-Hasan accepts. "I can't be too hard on myself. In regards to the retail business, you are not going to be able to please everyone."
There is a lot in the pipeline for the brand. Onasanya-Hasan has learned to shoot and film models for her business' Instagram page from her film-producing husband. She plans on releasing six, new full-coverage prints on the way and the launch of headwear pieces to compliment swimsuits that are already out. Even though women are at the heart of her business, she wants to make pieces for babies like her daughter Zion and their daddies. She refers to it as a "Mommy and me slay" and says, "Mom can't be the only one looking fly on the vacation or bae-cation." On the art side of things, Her gallery will soon house a portrait series, as well.