Olio Stories: From sharing to sewing

Olio Stories 4 min read

Rita first started using Olio a few years ago. She and her husband are self employed which meant that the food shared on Olio could be a huge help at times when there was less work.

[Rita] Olio meant that we went from being a little worried about food each week to getting to a stage where we always had enough. I then started to take surplus food to my church to help others and we even started putting away a bit of money each week so that my husband and I could have a date night occasionally. It not only made a difference to our finances and the church, but it helped our relationship as well. 

Rita was keen to give back and at the beginning of 2023 she saw a listing by Kat on Olio looking for a washing machine. Her stepfather had passed away a few years prior and they had his old washing machine in storage. Rita reached out to Kat and after discovering they didn’t have a car she offered to drop the washing machine round. Kat’s family had moved from Nigeria to the UK and found themselves in a daunting new place, in a house that had nothing. Rita realised that they didn’t have very much at all, so she started going through what she had and giving them whatever she could find, from mirrors, to coffee tables. 

[Kat] Moving to Melton was a really tough decision for me because I was worried there wouldn’t be a strong presence of black people or Muslims there. I was very apprehensive about whether we’d have a support system, but Rita was all the support system in one.

As they got closer they discovered that they had a mutual love for sewing and Rita had just the thing Kat was longing for…

[Rita] We both absolutely love sewing and I’d inherited a treadle sewing machine from my step grandmother which was a family heirloom and over a hundred years old. It turned out Kat really wanted a treadle sewing machine rather than one that had to be plugged into electricity. 

It was a really hard feeling, could I let go of this sewing machine that had been handed down through the generations? But I thought, I’m not going to use it because I’ve got my electric sewing machine and here I have this beautiful woman that needs and wants a treadle sewing machine and sharing this would actually be honouring my nana. So I said, if you promise that you will love this sewing machine as much as I do, then please have it because I’m sure that my nana would really appreciate you having that.

Since then Kat has made many wonderful creations using this precious heirloom. She recently brought back beautiful material from Nigeria which they’ve both made dresses from. As they laughed, reminisced, and planned their next sewing project, it was evident that through Olio they had done more than share, they had stitched together a friendship that transcended cultures, religions, and sewing patterns!

What do you love most about using Olio?

[Rita] For me, it’s made me realise that there is an alternative lifestyle out there that doesn’t cost a fortune. Our lifestyle in 2023 tends to be very consumeristic. By getting involved with Olio, it’s made us realise that actually you don’t have to go out and spend a load of money on things. Whenever we need anything now, we can look for it on Olio. 

[Kat] Where I come from, you can’t be alone with a community and Olio gave me that with Rita. Olio is a community and I have made a friend for life.

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