In Nigeria, waist beads hold deep cultural significance and are embraced by individuals across different ethnic groups.
Despite their rich cultural heritage and captivating allure, wearing of waist beads have long been surrounded by misconceptions and stereotypes.
Society has often limited these beautiful adornments to superficial assumptions or misjudgements; but amidst the misconceptions, a 26-year-old graduate of Chemical Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University, Oluwatosin Oyegoke, has emerged as a beacon of creativity and resilience in the waist bead industry.
She is not only crafting exquisite waist beads but also shattering stereotypes, defying societal norms and weaving her way through, as she remains determined to redefine the perception of waist beads and celebrate their true essence.
The story of the entrepreneur is inspiring, as she refused to let the various misconceptions cast a shadow over her passion and talent. She is today the founder of Waist Beads by Nora Inc.
From engineering to waist bead-making
My name is Oluwatosin Oyegoke. I am the Founder of Waist Beads by Nora Inc. I am 26 years old and a graduate of Chemical Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU).
Waist Beads by Nora is a Nigeria-based waist beads online and physical store. We make waist beads for women of all shapes, sizes, and colour. Waist Beads by Nora was founded out of pure passion and love for waist beads and intention to create uniqueness, creativity and beauty in a world where it seemed absent. It was also borne out of the determination to bring awareness and get rid of misconceptions about waist beads.
Waist beads have huge significance in the African culture as they’ve been worn by women for centuries as a symbol of femininity
Why beads? And journey so far
Back in 2018 when I conceived the idea to start a waist bead business, there were no waist bead brands I could find. To buy waist beads, you had to go to the local markets and I wanted to change that.
Waist beads have huge significance in the African culture as they have been worn by women for centuries as a symbol of femininity amongst others. I have been working with waist beads for almost five years now and it’s been a series of learning stages. I create almost all our designs and have trained over 50 young women and girls.
Types of beads
There are different kinds of beads from sand beads to crystal beads, glass beads, coral beads and many ornamental beads. They all have different qualities and richness. There is also the plastic beads, which I do not use.
Myths/misconceptions about waist beads
There have been many myths about waist beads across several African tribes. For instance in Nigeria, waist beads is believed to be diabolical due to their religious beliefs. The culture is closely being wiped away as mothers no longer wear waist beads for their little girls as they did in the olden days; people are beginning to lose touch with their culture. This is one of the things Waist Beads by Nora has been changing over the years — that is the misconceptions held about waist beads.
beads range variously from sand beads to crystal beads, glass beads, coral beads and many ornamental beads
What beads do to the body
Waist beads are beautiful and are worn to adorn the body, just like other jewellery, though wearing of waist beads is more intimate and personal. Waist beads help you fall in love with your body, no matter the ‘flaw’.
Many women wear waist beads to track their weight loss journey, as it helps to indicate when you have gained or lost weight. Waist beads are also amazing intimate appeal as many African men love to see them on women. It makes women even sexier. It is a symbol of pride and femininity.
How lucrative is waist bead business
Waist bead business is a very lucrative one. It requires creativity and hard work, as beading can take hours. I would advise anyone in the waist bead business or anyone thinking of starting to stay focused and strive for creativity. The price of our beads range from N1,000 to N20,000 per strand.
Many women wear waist beads to track their weight loss journey, as it helps to indicate when you have gained or lost weight
At the early stage of my business, sourcing for bead materials was really difficult. I visited over 10 markets across three different states in Nigeria until I found my sources.
Like every other business, there are challenges and one major challenge with a cultural product like waist beads is the misconceptions and negative stereotypes surrounding its use.
Over the years, Waist Beads by Nora has put in a lot of efforts in educating the public about the misconceptions surrounding the use of waist beads and helping women realize how beautiful it can be to adorn themselves in such timeless pieces.
one major challenge with a cultural product like waist beads is the misconceptions and negative stereotypes surrounding its use
Waist Beads by Nora has also played a significant role in boosting the economy, as we have provided jobs for many young women and even trained some to start their own ventures.
We also export our products to be resold in over five countries and we have retail customers in over 25 countries around the world. I believe this is of positive impact to the economy and if we are given more platforms to empower younger women, it would boost the nation’s economy the more.
Advice to young people and government
My advice to young women is to set their own goals and focus on achieving them, be creative and determined. I advise young men, too, to understand the value of hard work and commitment.
The government should give room for the younger generation to succeed as the country currently overlooks the young talents we have. It should create an enabling environment for young talents to grow and thrive.