Story

OKO Empowers Women and Kids

April 3, 2017 by Audrey Johnson

Equipping people to overcome. Demonstrating acts of kindness. Giving opportunity to those who need it most. That’s what OKO stands for.

Sisters Abbie Boatwright and Katie Steelman opened OKO to encourage and empower women and kids of all ages. The women aim for a style that is timeless and chic -not too trendy. Abbie has a little bit of edge to her style and likes to incorporate bold pieces into a rather minimalist closet. Katie’s style is classic and sophisticated and she always looks sharp - even when she’s wearing casual clothes. 

“When we were growing up in Rome, we used to always go into the Louis Vuitton store in downtown Rome every Sunday after church. Although that’s not who inspires us now, I think that is when we both knew we truly appreciated fashion and everything that it involves. We both cherish those memories of living in Rome and being surrounded by high fashion. Via Condotti right near the Spanish steps was one of our favorite places to walk around and admire all of the designer stores and their different styles,” says Abbie.

Katie and Abbie are beautiful inside and out, yet they’re more business-minded that fashionistas. Above all, they’re benevolent.

"We partner with a non-profit in the Dominican Republic, Global Effect, to employ women in the impoverished community of Los Suarez,” said Abbie.

Katie and Abbie’s father started Global Effect in 2007 to act as a ministry that works through local churches improving the quality of life in poverty stricken areas of the Dominican Republic. The non-profit works to solve social problems and develop a sustainable economy by giving microloans, aiding in water filtration, and providing vitamins in schools, to name a few.

When Global Effect gave a microloan to a group of women starting sewing company, and another group starting a jewelry line, Katie and Abbie heard about them and started buying wholesale. When Katie and Abbie began designing their exclusive OKO label, the ladies in the Dominican filled the order. Now, the sisters travel to the Dominican Republic about three times a year.  

The OKO label consists of both girls’ and women’s lines, and OKO swim is slated to be ready in time for summer. Abbie and Katie hope to open more stores with the idea of keeping the line exclusive. Signatures of OKO are fabrics that fit well and feel good, like bamboo and other sustainable materials.

“The fabric can completely change a garment,” says Abbie.

Abbie and Katie opened the women’s boutique in April 2016, and less than a month later opened OKO kids right next door. Besides the exclusive and fabulous OKO label, the stores carry quality pieces that are wardrobe staples, like tweed tops for ladies and T-rex tees for boys. Accessories and apparel are carefully selected, not just for the look and feel of them, but for the causes they serve.

OKO carries brands such as Tart, Toms Shoes, Fashionable Jewelry and Handbags, Olive + Oak, Laju and lots of others in the boutique. At OKO kids you’ll find labels by Joules, Henny + Coco, OMIE LIFE, Natives, Snapper Rock, TKEES - even high end toys and bento lunch boxes.

OKO and OKO Kids are located side by side at The Hub in Watersound Beach. They’re open Monday-Saturday from 10am to 6pm. Sip on La Croix, wine or Coronitas (Spanish for tiny Coronas) while you shop. Look for website and e-commerce coming soon at www.okolifestyle.com. Follow OKO on Facebook and Instagram @okolifestyle. 

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Audrey Johnson's picture

Audrey Johnson

Upon realizing that life is too short not to follow her dreams, Audrey moved to the beach and became a writer. SoWal’s pristine beaches inspire her to explore further, look deeper, and do better.

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