#MDE42

After an early career gaining experience in all aspects of the fashion industry, Akosua Afriyie-Kumi followed her calling to bring the beautiful crafts of her native Ghana to a worldwide audience. The colourful raffia bags produced by her company, AAKS, are now stocked in prestigious stores such as Anthropologie only 8 months after launching.

The bags, all designed by Akosua, are made in Ghana using traditional methods with each weaver putting his or her name on the swing tag. The bags create a lot of work for weavers in the northern region of Ghana, and Akosua is able to pay them higher prices than they would get for the baskets they normally weave and sell locally. Akosua currently employs an average of 35 weavers which supports them with work in their community and provides for their families, as well as the farmers in the south who produce the raffia - an under-utilised resource.

Akosua has had to work hard to raise awareness of her brand and is now in 18 retailers globally. She has been proactive in creating awareness, sending lots of emails and hustling to get in front of the right people. This interview covers the story of setting up AAKS and the sacrifices she has made to get her brand off the ground.

What you will learn in this interview:

  • What the turning point was to start her own company
  • The barriers she has faced to produce her bags
  • What social media channels she has used to build the brand
  • How she got in front of a company like Anthropologie
  • Why you need 1-2 years living expenses in the bank

Books/Website

www.entrepreneur.com

Favourite Quote

She was born wild and curious. A cage is no place for someone like that. "I play with the fire of my own truth", she told me, "I will burn for the things I love" Mia Hollow.

Productivity hacks

Lists - again!

Links

www.aaksonline.com

On Twitter: @AAKShandcrafted

I really hope enjoyed the interview with Akosua. If you have any thoughts or comments about this episode, please do share them with us on Twitter or Facebook – we’d love to hear from you!

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Thanks again to Akosua for sharing her story with us.