Abiola Haroun, ’94, was featured in the August 11-17 issue of The Baltimore Times in an article about her entrepreneurial endeavors. In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Haroun founded Afrotika, which sells African-inspired art, clothing and accessories that she creates. “Through the company, Haroun aims to empower deaf people in developing nations, and says she uses African fabrics purchased from Africa and donated fabric remnants from Africa to promote eco-friendliness and sustainability,” writes Baltimore Times journalist Ursula V. Battle: 

Woman with light brown curly hair wearing a red and white designed dress and gold hoops, standing with a serious look.
Abiola Haroun, ’94

“[Haroun, a] writer, editor, and published poet, says she migrated to England at an early age then to the United States as a teenager,” continues Battle. “She has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and has worked as a chemist for various biotechnology companies. She also earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Baltimore.”

“I’ve been an artist and fashion aficionado since I was a child,” Haroun said in the article. “I was always surrounded by art, design and style. As an adult, I spent many years creating art solely as keepsakes. However, as time went by, I realized how gifted I am and that there are tons of deaf children in developing nations who are not as privileged as I am; many don’t have access to the quality education I’ve received. Hence the birth of Afrotika. It allows me to create and to also give back, which is a win-win scenario.”

“I’m a very visual person,” Haroun continued. “I pay attention to everything I see. Sometimes a simple leaf, its texture, color, and shape, can be an inspiration for me. I love asymmetry and odd shapes – I have no interest in perfection. There’s beauty in distortion. My designs also draw from West African culture, as I was born in West Africa, and I add a modern twist. My artwork and clothing can be embraced by anyone, regardless of their race or culture. I want people to see that African art and clothing can be fun and modern.”

Haroun says that funds generated from Afrotika’s sales are donated to The Andrew Foster AfriDeaf Foundation – a nonprofit organization geared towards promoting the education of deaf children and young adults. The foundation is named in honor of Dr. Andrew J. Foster, ’54 & H-’70, Gallaudet’s first Black Deaf graduate. Haroun serves on its Board of Trustees.

In 2022, Haroun won the first-ever Alumni BisonTank competition hosted by the Gallaudet Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute.

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