How and when did you start your accessory brand?
Beads have always been part of my life. Akan babies wear beads on their wrists and hips for protection. As a teenager, beads were on my neck, my wrists, and my ankles. As a student and later on as a diplomat, I continued to create jewellery. I was at all times surrounded by beads. I learned how to thread cotton and make beaded jewellery with my maternal Akan grandmother at a very young age. Making jewellery was my main hobby. I registered the brand in November 2010 and started on Etsy. I chose the name "AFLÉ" which means "Beads" in my maternal Akan language as the name of my brand. Aflé is a hobby that naturally became a business. Aflé is now an international brand with distribution in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as its online flagship e-boutique.
What are your sources of inspiration?
Akan women and Akan culture. I am inspired by my own culture which is ahead of time in terms of gender equality. In the Akan culture, women are powerful as they are at the centre of the traditional society. The culture is matrilineal meaning the ruling king is designated based on his maternal bloodline. Children inherit also from their mother’s side. Women have political and social obligations. They don´t rely on men for their finances. They conduct their own businesses. Akan women are extremely strong and independent. I was raised in this culture, surrounded by phenomenal women, namely my grandmother, my mother, and my aunts.
What skills are necessary to be a successful creator? Do you have any tips for aspiring artists who want to start their own accessory brand?
Patience is THE key. Brand awareness takes time and a lot of resources. Aspiring artists must never give up on their project, on their dream. They should not wait to have the money or the perfect team to start. The progression or the journey IS the main point of entrepreneurship. Moving forward with your project is a success. For Aflé, success means reaching more customers, telling more women about Akan culture, empowering more women with our jewellery. This is something that cannot find a final stage. When I look at the path that has been accomplished since 2010, Aflé is successful.
What is your dream project? If there are no limitations, what would you like to create?
My dream project is for Aflé to penetrate more markets. I’d like Aflé to become a franchise, with its jewellery lines available worldwide. I’d love for Aflé to be internationally recognised as a successful, black-owned, woman-owned, jewellery brand that promotes culture.
What do you enjoy doing when not creating accessory products?
When I am not designing, I am reading or painting (now creating hats!). I like being connected to the creative world. When “off-duty”, you will find me lounging in Assinie, Côte d´Ivoire, one of the most beautiful beaches in West Africa, playing in the sand with my 3 boys and swimming in the warm ocean.
Do you have anything else you would like to let London Accessory Week readers and customers know about you and your brand?
Yes, I am the president of The Aflé Foundation, a non-profit organisation that supports women and children in Côte d’Ivoire (West Africa). Our main areas of intervention are children’s mental health, education, and women's empowerment. We have just started our activities on the field in terms of raising awareness. It is our way to give back to the communities. aflebijoux.com