The FMA would like to introduce you to our new Fashion Minority Alliance Founding Committee Head for Ghana.
Eyiwaa Agyekumhene is the Founder and Creative Director of KAYADUA. KAYADUA is a Ghanaian based fashion brand that has been featured in Vogue, COLORxSTUDIOS, Grazia UK, I-D and more. We got a little sneak peek into Eyiwaa’s world and couldn’t help sharing it with you…
Let’s talk about the beginning of your career. How did you get started in fashion and what first ignited your passion?
I got interested in fashion design at a very young age. As a young girl, I used to watch my grandmothers design and make their own garments. I will usually sit by them and watch the process from cutting to sewing and the process was very intriguing for me.
Who inspired you when you started out in the industry and how did you open the door to get in?
After being inspired by my grandmothers, my first approach to fashion started as a model. This gave me a first-hand experience of what clothes meant to the people who have made them and realized it wasn’t just to cover our body but also to tell a story, a tool of activism, and to express a person’s personality and emotion.
What has been your best learning experience to date working within the industry?
My best experience to date is when I designed my first two collections and not having the funds to hire the assistant of makers, so I decided to make every piece myself in my small room over a couple of months. It was quite an intense couple of months. I realized at that point that I am capable of over whatever challenge if I decide to take a step.
If you could go back in time, and give some advice to your younger professional self, what would it be?
My advice to my younger professional self will be to always let my intentions be clear with who or whatever I’m working on from the beginning and to be afraid to start over when I meet a dead end. I will also say that sometimes when the door closes in your face, knock and ask for it to be opened for you.
Who inspires you within the industry today and why?
Seeing the freedom other creatives use in expressing their art really inspires and encourages me.
What would you say were your “milestone moments” so far?
With my reality and experiences in my career so far, I will say every time I have been able to achieve a goal and not giving up is a milestone whether it’s building the KAYADUA website myself or finishing the first sample of a new design.
What has driven your success at KAYADUA? What is the speciality of KAYADUA?
Determination and being willing to find solutions when I’m faced with a challenge instead of giving up at the first try have contributed to the success of KAYADUA.
What do you hope the impact of KAYADUA will have on your community?
At KAYADUA, we are currently into both clothing and accessory design and our DNA is innovative weaving techniques and hand-making techniques.
I hope to tell the Ghanaian story by highlighting and empowering the skills and craftsmanship of the artisans here whilst providing jobs. I will also love to provide free skill acquisition programs shortly to interested persons who can’t afford to fund themselves through programs like this.
How did the Pandemic affect the fashion industry on the Continent e.g., more brands moving to e-commerce and digital to strengthen their businesses?
The pandemic affected the overall structure of the fashion industry. For a long time, we were used to walking into shops to make our purchases or requesting custom pieces from our local makers. With the pandemic, sales dropped, and we were faced with the challenge of reaching and connecting to our customers during this time of no see and no-touch. Hence the need to incorporate e-commerce into our business structures.
Why is intersectionality important for the future of the industry e.g., ethics, sustainability, intersectional feminism, diversity?
In Africa, ethics, and sustainability are already ingrained in our cultures. The way we live and produce is done in a sustainable. Being aware and intentional about it is when the effort to make a change comes in whether is allowing the voices of women to be heard and empowering them or sustaining our craftsmanship. The awareness helps to sustain a lot of our traditional way of making things which helps to sustain our culture.
Speaking of challenges and change, what would you say were the main hurdles that you had to overcome working within the business and being based in Ghana.
One main challenge was an education for myself and the artisans I work with. Funds and not having access to buyers or sale channels after production is done was a challenge, I had to find my way around.
Do you have any hints or tips you can share for young people within the Black and minority community wishing to become a model/work in television/art curation?
My advice, you do not have to answer yes to everything, identify what goes with the brand you are building and stuck to it. Always take time and read through the contracts, ask for the assistance of someone if needed. Also, start from where you are with what you have and with the people around you.
What do you think the Ghanaian Fashion market needs more of?
We need Mentorship and education. Proper structures and systems like what FMA offer.
What are some ways we can better support Ghanaian creatives?
Mentorship and education, proper structures, and systems like agencies will really help elevate and bridge the gap for job opportunities. Access to funds. The skills and creativity are there but there can be so many restrictions when there are no funds to work with.
You are the head of the Fashion Minority Alliance Committee for Ghana…What are you hoping to achieve and what can we expect?
As the head of FMAC for Ghana, my goal is to give the creatives here first-hand access to tools that will help equip them to build and manage their art sustainably which will help the industry grow and be better through the help of FMA.
Expect to connect with the best of talents from Ghana whose art is unique and putting the country on the world map of fashion.
I will be your inside eye on the issues going on in the industry here. Overall, I am very passionate about the growth of the fashion industry in Ghana and Africa as a whole. We have great talents but little access to opportunities that will push us further. I am willing to offer my skills and assistance to the course of making that happen.