Lifestyle This fashionista is stealing all the headlines on the international front with her amazing handcrafted raffia bags from Ghana

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A Ghanaian business woman is stealing all the headlines on the international front with her amazing handcrafted raffia bags from Ghana.

play Founder of AAKS Hand Craft seated with her products (AAKS)
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31-year-old Ghanaian business woman Akosua Afriyie-Kumi is filling stores abroad with Ghanaian handcrafted raffia bags.

These raffia bags are making impressive statements in the international bag world.

She is the founder of AAKS Hand Craft which creates durable bags, characterized by bright exuberant colours with style.

The Ghanaian business woman, Akosua graduated from Kingston University London with a BA (Hons) Fashion degree.

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She now stocks her woven bag collections at Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters.

"Now I sell in 46 stores in 16 countries around the world, and I've only been in business since 2014," she says.

It all started when Akosua Afriyie-Kumi visited a small tranquil village in the Northern region of Ghana and spotted a group of local weavers making baskets by twisting raffia to sell along the streets.

Apparently, Akosua was so green to the business world, but she felt raffia bags could be a good opportunity when she stumbled on it.

Although she had little knowledge about business when she started, she capitalized on her social networks.

Just after few months of her setting up her designer bag business, raffia bags gained traction on Pinterest, and also made way to the attention of U.S. retailer Anthropologie.

"To get a call almost three months after launching from Anthropologie was one of the greatest moments of my brand," says Afriyie-Kumi.

Due to the quality of the bags, Anthropologie recommended AAKS to Urban Outfitters(URBN) (both subsidiaries of URBN brands), which included her in its Spring/Summer 2016 collection.

Urban Outfitters will stock her new collection in its Miami and Hawaii stores.

Workforce

The rising demand for her bags has made Akosua increase the number of weavers from three to 30 weavers.

play Woman twisting raffia into strands to make raffia bag (AASK)

 

According to her, each bag can take as long as a week to be ready "as raffia palms are taken from the south to the north of Ghana, where they are twisted into strands by hand and dyed using organic colouring. Once dry, the weaving begins."

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With the pricing, Akosua says the bags sell between $70 and $270.

"I limit production to a maximum of 200 bags a month, to ensure quality and ethical production. A lot of stores are surprisingly OK with us not over-producing, as our bags become more exclusive," she says.

Akosua is currently based in Ghana but finds herself travelling to and throughout Europe and Africa.

She particularly visits Cape Town, London, Accra frequently to work with local artisans, experience the diverse culture of the continents and discover new inspirations for her brand.

Since launching her business in 2014, AAKS has been shortlisted as an emerging designer from Africa by Vogue Italia, featured by Elle Decoration South Africa, Forbes Woman Africa, WGSN, Fashion Revolution and Guardian UK.