People called her a mad woman — until they saw what she was creating.
In Nigeria, Olutosin Oladosu Adebowale has built a business by creating beautiful products — out of trash.
What is this? It's a quilt!
A quilt made from scraps of discarded fabric.
Olutosin's inventive quilts, shopping bags, and more are crafted from colorful fabric scraps that tailors have thrown away.
The beautiful products are carefully handmade by women who have survived abuse — who, like the fabric scraps, have been cast aside by society.
She told Upworthy, "I am a survivor of domestic violence [so] when I became emancipated, I decided to help willing women to transform their lives too. That's why I started 'Tosin's Turn Trash to Treasure'; [to] turn abused women to assets."
Olutosin's belief in the resourcefulness of Nigerian women and her outlook on life — finding treasure in what others consider trash — are creating positive waves across Nigeria.
Through Facebook, Olutosin has met people from across the globe who agree with her that these discarded scraps from local tailors really are treasure, not trash. The organization World Pulse, a social networking platform connecting women worldwide for change, has launched Olutosin into an online community full of support, business opportunities, and love.
"Facebook has help[ed] me to showcase our products, advertising to potential customers and connected me to more than thousands global sisters who love and support my dream," she shared with Upworthy in an email.
When it comes to the circumstances of the women she employs, the impact goes beyond the women themselves, she said — it's helping their whole families.
She said of the women working with her: "They can make healthy choices now. They can create alternative avenues for finances and they can lead their own daughters aright too."
Olutosin recognized that a workspace of their own would be necessary. "We realized that we needed our own space when many women who love to join our training do not have accommodation [in] Lagos," she said.
The success of Olutosin’s business led to her meeting Sharon, who lives in the U.K., through Facebook. Sharon bought some property in the riverside community of Ibasa, Nigeria, and gave it to Olutosin. Olutosin has never met her, but Sharon's generosity is making a huge difference by making a space for women to work, learn, and mobilize a reality.
It may seem like one woman's business creating quilts from scraps. But Olutosin has bigger dreams for the work coming out of her enterprise.
She wants to sew a new reality for women.
"I wish to build a Treasure Women Town. A paradise for women and girls. Where violence against women will be a thing unheard of. Where gender equality will be the normal way of life."
And with dreams like that and a proven ability to make things happen, who wouldn't cheer her on?