Starting and running my own fashion house has been a very challenging but rewarding journey.
One of Ghana’s premier fashion designers, Adjoa Yeboah owes her career to the local seamstresses who made up her sketches as a teenager. Not because they did a great job; quite the opposite, in fact. It was when they could not finish her garments on time that she took matters into her own hands and learned how to sew them for herself.
Growing up in Berekum, in the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana, Adjoa spent a lot of time in her mother’s childrenswear shop. The young Adjoa wanted to stand out, but the clothes in her mother’s shop were not unique enough for her liking. So she started to design her own.
Adjoa had always wanted to be a fashion entrepreneur, and when she got fed up with the seamstresses letting her down, she finally enrolled in fashion school in 2010. Three years later, after making clothes for her friends just for fun, she decided to leave her day job. She founded her own company, Adjoa Yeboah Clothing in 2013, with just a handful of clients. Since then, she has partnered with fabric house Vlisco to design a collection, shown her creations on the catwalk, and partnered with the US-based KADI group to expand her market beyond Ghana and become a global brand. She now employs a permanent staff of fifteen.
We caught up with Adjoa to find out more about her fashion journey.
How has entrepreneurship changed your life?
I get to learn new things and also help others to achieve their dreams. I always encourage them [to think] that whatever you want to do in life, with determination you will get there because my life is a testimony. I turned that frustration from my seamstress [around] and today I’m a fashion designer.
Can you share some of the highlights of your journey?
The highlight of my entrepreneurial journey was when I was selected to partner with Vlisco in 2015. The partnership involved designing outfits for the winners of the Vlisco Woman of the year Award. I had the privilege of designing and making clothes for distinguished women like Anita Erskine, Korkui Selormey, to name a few.
How did you get started?
Starting this business was the bold step I took to make my dream a reality. I started as a sole proprietor making clothes for women who had events to attend. I remember my first client whom I met at church loved the outfit I made for her and recommended me to some of her friends. I was excited about the progress I was making and decided to have a more structured business plan.
What do you wish you had known about entrepreneurship earlier?
One thing that I took for granted was the financial aspect of the business. As Timan J. Fertitta said, “Don’t ever let your business get ahead of the financial side of your business; accounting, accounting, accounting, know your numbers.” I wish I had known this earlier.
I joined the WELA class in 2017. That was one of the best decisions I had ever made in my life. I learned how to manage the finances of my business, how to lead as a female entrepreneur, and how to manage the clients I have. Thanks to the WELA class, I have restructured my business and I am managing my clients more effectively than I was in the past.
How do you balance your life [Adjoa is a mother of two] and work?
Once you tell yourself you are tired, you will be tired. So even if I’m weak I still come to work. I will do something. I will not waste the day.
How do you work with different body types?
One thing I know is African women have beautiful body contours and love to show it. On the other hand I have come to realise that their body proportions are not the same as other women around the world. That is why we have mastered the art of making clothes for both local and international consumption, using the latest fashion trends across the globe.