Made in Ghana
We are women of diverse culture
but common history.
We use beauty to promote unity
we use beauty to discourage conflict.
We use beauty to tell you, your history.
We are Ghana’s most beautiful
the eyes of our society.
– Lovett Listowell
How it all started
The above poem best describe AAKS, handbags made in Ghana, by artisan women. Founded and designed by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi, of Ghanaian origin in 2014, AAKS highlights the ancestral weaving technique of the women of Northern Ghana. Akosua studied fashion at Kingston University in London. She has always had a dream of creating something that has sustainable qualities. After graduation, she found out that her future lies in Ghana. Therefore, seeing how popular basket bags are in Ghana, but nobody doing anything new with them, she decided to move back to Ghana and recreate the traditional basket bags.
The locals in Ghana use the basket bags mainly for storage. The craft of the woven basket bags can be found in a particular region of Ghana – the Northern Region of Bolgatanga. This tradition is handed down from generation to generation of female weavers. In the meanwhile, after sourcing the right group of female artisans, AAKS, made in Ghana, was a fact. With an eye for detail, design and quality, Akosua turned the traditional bags to an ethical fashion staple, made of Raffia and leather.
AAKS – Made in Ghana
Besides making the AAKS handbags in Ghana, Akosua hopes to gain international awareness for the skill set of the weavers in Ghana. As a result of AAKS handbags being made in Ghana, her company has created job opportunities for the locals. Each handbag is made by hand, and bearing the finger prints of the person who fashioned it, making the bag one-of-a-kind to its owner. On an average it takes one full week to complete one bag. Aksosua started with just three weavers. In a space of a year, AAKS has grown from three to forty five weavers, and four full-time staff. In addition to working with local artisans, the brand uses ecologically sourced materials. The materials are hand dyed and features a colourful pattern of woven Raffia, and luxurious leather straps and accents. The Raffia is utilised to its fullest to avoid waste.
Success of social media
Social media has played a huge role in the success of AAKS. One of the first retailers AAKS handbags was sold to, was Anthropologie. The buyers got in touch with Akosua after seeing the brand images on social media. After samples were sent to Anthropologie, to assure the high quality demand, they placed an order. Antropologie has more than 185 stores in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It also retails its curated products on its website. Next to Anthropologie, AAKS has also been picked up by Urban Outfitters.
Part of Akosua’s success with AAKS is her ability to identify a gap in the market for beautifully handcrafted bags. Particularly, one that utilise locally sourced materials and artisans. Coupled with innovative contemporary designs that celebrate the traditional art of weaving, she had a success formula. In conclusion, Akosua has successfully made use of the abundant wealth of resources in Ghana to fulfil her dreams.
In our journey to discover creative talents in Africa and the diaspora, made in Ghana is one of the phrases that we hope will be synonymous to talent, creativity and quality. Designers such as Akosua Afriyie-Kumi of AAKS, give us hope that, together we can lift Africa out of poverty. Shop the beautiful collection of AAKS bags here.