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Flowing slowly, by Yeba Olayé.
July 3rd, 2024
(English- French


Right now, I am suspended between sky and earth, nestled in an airplane that carries me back to my daily life.
Drifting between two worlds, in a space where time holds no sway, I catch my breath.
For the first time in ages, I have eight hours ahead of me, all to myself. So, I write to you.

I hurriedly left Brussels two weeks ago due to a family emergency in Benin. Looking back, it seems as if this unexpected journey was orchestrated by the universe to rescue me, to pull me from my infernal routine.
As the safety instructions film plays on the large screen, I cannot help but close my eyes. I reflect on the past six months. Was it the eclipse, or Mars retrograde? Some might simply say it was the crisis that forcefully entered our lives... One thing was clear: many of us were caught in a swift torrent, a raging current. Something was happening, as if an era was making way for another, and what once worked no longer fit. 

AYO totes

Do you feel it too? Nothing seems to flow smoothly anymore. I can’t help but think of those hearts that stopped beating passionately for their love, their passion, their project; of these new rules exalting quantity over quality; of the incessant noise preventing us from connecting with our own inner music. No one can convince me otherwise: time has changed its pace, and we are caught in its tightening grip as it accelerates... This period of systemic crisis seemed to carry a message for us all, an invitation to pause and ask ourselves the right questions.

I am a true Aries, a force of nature. I have always been driven by the desire to achieve things, at any cost. Launching new projects and expressing myself through them gives me a sense of existence. There is nothing more satisfying to me than taking an idea and pouring in the wild energy it requires to see it materialize in the real world. Saying that I am spurred on by Mars, the god of war, would be an understatement. My modus operandi is to act swiftly, to go all out, even forcefully, armed with perseverance and resilience until it works. And when it doesn't, I start over, relentlessly.

" I have always been driven by the desire to achieve things, at any cost. Launching new projects and expressing myself through them gives me a sense of existence. ".  

I began 2024 full of confidence. After a splendid end-of-year campaign, we were ready to unveil our ORI bag: to date, the most beautiful model I had ever designed. It had already garnered some success in photos and a waiting list among the brand’s friend. There was just one last technical detail we still had to solve with the workshop: smoothing out a little fold in its lovely, perfect curve. This fold had surprisingly appeared over time, but it was a detail I deemed simple to fix.

I wish I was right.

The small fold, seemingly insignificant, became actually a persistent problem. We deployed treasures of ingenuity for weeks with the workshop to remove it. It was all in vain.
After a few prototypes, we had to give up on releasing the model as it was.

When Thomas, the production manager, said to me:
"Dear Yeba, we need to rethink the entire structure of this model. We have to start over completely. It will take us at least six more months,"
my heart sank.

”We are so close. We can still make it work before Spring arrives. Let’s try, at least for my clients, for the brand, for the business, for me",  I insisted.

He responded with compassion in his eyes:
“I think stubbornness never brought any good. As a friend, I advise you to let go for now.”. 

While I was listening, I felt as if night had descended upon my soul.

"Let go"... What does that really mean? How does one let go? These words tormented me for days. They robbed me of nights of sleep.
I had been so convinced of the strength of the new ORI model (which means the head, intelligence) that I did not think it would drive me to lose my mind. Every fiber of my being resisted desperately.

But the market was slowing down, and the crisis was beginning to be felt. If I was still somewhat protected, I had to let go for now.
I knew some entrepreneur friends were going through real things. Some had to close their brands. Times was not right for making uncertain moves. So, reluctantly, I accepted the idea. At the end of Winter, Spring would bring back energy and desire.

Only, Spring never came.


"Sitting by the window and watching the sky cry day after day for months deeply affected me. I would lie if I said it did not change me. By force of circumstances, it forced me to live at a different pace, slower, calmer, to release the pressure.. Slowly and gradually, I re-discovered a more human rhythm, making room for real life, for simple moments, and for alone time.

“Sometimes, you get what you want. Other times, life gives you a lesson in patience, timing, alignment, empathy, compassion, faith, perseverance, resilience, humility, trust, meaning, awareness, resistance, purpose, clarity, grief, beauty, and life. Either way, you win." As Brianna Wiest so nicely puts it.

Slowly and gradually, I re-discovered a more human rhythm, making room for real life, for simple moments, and for alone time.

In this gloomy climate, I gained wisdom. I learned to be more lenient with myself. I learned the virtue of patience. Regardless of others' opinions, I learned that my worth was not attached to my current results but to my journey, to what lay dormant and seemed to shine within me, which only I could see (or start to see).

Latest months, I grew weary of consistently feeling behind schedule, particularly when it was time to launch campaigns, new styles, and stunts. Reflecting in this plane, I entered into a pact with myself: I would find a way to escape this curse of time, to use it wisely, not to do more but to do better, not compete with anyone but to explore my unique gifts. What will remain are the things made with love, carrying a story, a message...When you realize how personal a piece is, you want to cherish it more and hold on to it for a very long time, whatever the trend going on… make it a part of your own style. That approach feels right to me, it has guided me for a long time, even if I sometimes lose sight of it.  At the end, I hope you will feel how much this brand "YEBA" is not a project marked by the ambition to grow at all costs. It is a personal brand, a labour of love, marked by a sincere passion, a desire to be present by your side.

My heart often smiles when I see a woman wearing one my handbags. Each time, she is surrounded by a strength that dazzles me and reminds me that a symbolic object in your hands can reveal the best in us. In any case, "You" reveal the best in me.


What treasures lie buried within you that you have not yet brought to the surface? What inner journeys and dreams have you neglected for so long?

This summer, I return with a campaign I've titled "Flowing Slowly," an invitation to slow down. I wish us to pause, to let ourselves be guided by our inner rhythms, to engage in activities that make us feel alive.
Let us craft moments that draw us into our flow, a suspended state where the vast possibilities within us unfold.

Flowing slowly is a short story, a profound contemplation I offer to you, my Tribe. May we catch our breath again, far from the daily noise, far from the siren calls of the algorithms, far from the tumult of intense emotions. artificially created in us May we find the peace, the creativity, and the strength that exist in each of us.

Wishing you a beautiful summer.

With love.

Author : Yeba Olayé 
Photography: Babeth Albert & Nele Bogaerts
odels : Zoë Loen & Femke Neyt
Location: Scala dei Turchi, Sicili

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