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Velma Owusu-Bempah | Ghana | Focus & Design!

I have always loved creating little crafts from childhood. After my first degree in BSc. Marketing from the University of Ghana Business School, I graduated knowing that I was coming to work with the family business Sarah Fabrics Limited which got started by my mother before she gave birth to me. I therefore started creating little purses and hair accessories, playing with different textures of fabrics, hand beading whilst I was working at Sarah's fabrics limited. I went all out making little pieces for family and friends and most of them encouraged me to build on it. Some customers came into the shop to buy fabrics, see's my work and crafts, admire them so much and make orders for what I’m creating. There were other customers who came to the shop to acquire about where they can buy hats for their weddings. I spotted this business opportunity and with the passion for creating and working with my hands, I decided to polish these skills by applying for a bag designing and millinery courses at Central Saint Martin’s School of arts in London, an affiliate to London School of fashion to pursue my passion. It is worth noting that all these were inspired by my Mother.

Designing jewelry for over a decade, I am known for my unique and effortless skills in coming out with glamorous and exquisite pieces that make a statement. Since the inception of my brand in 2005, it made considerable inroads to becoming the accessory brand of choice with eclectic millinery styles and accessories to die for! Today, classy, elegant, versatile accessories pieces are synonymous to the Velma brand and its prolific product offerings. ''Accessorize Accessorize Accessorize '' has become more than just a repetitive cliché but a necessity in the fashion world.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

ANSWER: Honestly, it has not been easy starting this business since not a lot of people appreciate this kind of fashion locally. I had to start making pieces to family and friends for free, so they can wear to special occasions to stand out. Due to the uniqueness of our pieces, many people enquired from these family and friends where they can get such pieces. These led to a lot of referrals. Financing was also an issue since initially most of the products had to be given for free as a way of advertising. There were also collaboration’s with few local clothing designers on runway shows, making pieces for local celebrities to showcase our pieces. Thankfully people got to know our brand and it started growing fast. We then got the brand on Social media (Facebook and Instagram) spreading our works to other parts of the world like Europe, America, other parts of Africa etc. We currently have clients from all over the world and mostly get invitations to participate in runway shows, expo and exhibitions.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?

How did you handle it?

What would you do differently hindsight?

ANSWER: Talking about contention from my family I would say I never had one, because almost everyone in the family is creative and has entrepreneurial skills starting from my mother. I call her Queen of fabrics, my sister who is a fashion designer; my husband and family have been very supportive of what I do and continuously encourages me to pursue my passion. Few friends discouraged me along the line but I stayed focused and with hard work and perseverance I am where I am today.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

ANSWER: Focus! I have always seen myself as not competing with anybody or any other brand. My main thing was to keep focusing on my plans and goals I set for the company and work very hard to make sure I achieve all. I definitely will not let anything distract me.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

ANSWER: Clients/Customer behavior. Why do I say this?

Initially I work for people who come and always ask questions about your work. Some rejects the pieces and this was making me feel down all the time but now, I have learnt to manage these customers very well understanding how different each person is.

What advice would you give to the upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?

ANSWER: To be very hardworking and focused on what they are doing. They shouldn’t look elsewhere of what others are doing, they shouldn’t allow themselves to be distracted by other possible competitors. They should believe in themselves, work very hard, not to give up along the line because you will make mistakes in initial stages and fall but you can always rise.

Make Everything FASHIONABLE!!

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