Business News of 2013-05-09

Maksi fashion label, a growing brand

Maksi was launched in November 2009 in Accra. It all started when Nana encouraged her sister to start a business of her own. One of the things Nana realised was that her sister Abena had a natural talent for styling and designing.
She started designing clothes for Nana to wear and from there, they developed the idea of starting a fashion label.
Both told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS that they were motivated by people who stand out from the crowd, and who were “go getters,” but make a difference in society and those who were at home in Accra, Nairobi and Johannesburg, London and New York.
“We design with these types of people in mind. Our clothes have been worn in all these afore mentioned cities and that is because we make wearable clothing for the hard working, globetrotting individual,” Nana said.
MAKSI produces about four collections a year but they always produce and design new items which may not necessarily be part of a collection.
Since Ghana has only two seasons; rainy and dry, one does not necessarily need a totally new wardrobe at different times of the year, so the two sisters bear in mind the ‘Ghanaian seasons’ such as Christmas when people want more partyclothes, and outfits for special events such as engagements, weddings and holiday festivities.
However, in each collection, they include at least a jacket because their customers abroad might want something for the winter.
As a designer, it is important to be knowledgeable about global trends. Abena explained that not only do they look to satisfy their locally based clients, but also appeal to a global audience.
“As such fabric selection and colour palettes are selected with an international audience in mind. Materials are carefully selected by our creative team bearing in mind each design and its specific design element such as need for fluidity, density, luxury aesthetics, pattern flow, etc.,’ Abena said.
Choice of colours is normally derived from the inspiration for the collection and what the collection is meant to represent or the story it tells. For instance, their latest collection for VLISCO had bold, bright colours. Lots of yellows, shocking pinks, orange, etc. This collection dared every woman to dream and realise their dreams and not to be afraid to be the centre of attention and is definitely not for the faint hearted.
Abena said an entire collection from the idea conception, fabric and colour palette selection, sample production, etc, right up to providing imagery or availability of products on the market, might run as long as three months.
On the other hand, there have been times when their design team have had to come up with an entire collection within a week for shows, events, etc as situational demands also influence the design process.
Their goal is to be a Pan African based company. Africans are predominantly the target market for the MAKSI fashion label. In particular women and men aged between 25 and 45. Their clothes range from extremely affordable to expensive, so they are able to suit a variety of pockets.
In Ghana, MAKSI is sold at WINGLOW in East Legon, Prestige Boutique in Osu, Aya Morrison in Dzorwolu, all in Accra, and online via Yougora. They have also held trunk shows in Johannesburg, New York and London. They have customers in Uganda and Kenya.
The MAKSI owners have participated in two VLISCO fashion shows and earlier this year, partnered VLISCO in their ‘Be Your Dream’ awards where they had the pleasure of dressing inspirational nominee Abena Amoah, an investment banker.
They pride themselves to have trained lot of people. They have a team of sales staff, really inspirational young women whom they have trained to represent their brand. They have also provided on the job training for the women who make clothes for their labels.
Nana and Abena are proud that three and a half years after launching their business, they still exist and are growing their brand from strength to strength.
“We keep improving day by day. We have been featured in local and international media including ARISE magazine, New African Woman magazine, DSTV’s Africa Magic, VIASAT 1’s ‘The One Show’, DSTV’s ‘Fashion Coast’. Our brand is a really strong one and we are proud of that,” Nana said.
Nana, who is also a communication consultant, said she seamlessly combined the two and focused on the business development, communications and marketing aspect of MAKSI. Abena, on another hand, said she worked with MAKSI and other entrepreneurial activities with prowess. “Being an entrepreneur and having a flair for fashion design, working as the head of creative concepts for MAKSI is right up my alley,” she said.
They usually organised their own bazaars and have participated in some exhibitions but have generally found that they got better results when they organised their own events.
The Sekyiamah sisters are very excited about their journey into fashion so far. When they launched it in November 2009, there were very few companies creating ready to wear fashion, but now, this particular segment of the industry has really grown and they feel that they are pioneers in that regard.
They believe Ghana has a viable fashion industry with the older designers who have really been the pacesetters which include Kofi Ansah, Joyce Ababio, WINGLOW etc.
“We have the current crop of contemporary labels, we have loads of individual seamstresses and tailors. What is really needed now is more extensive development of the entire garment industry so we have factories or collectives that can mass produce so we can serve a much wider market, including the International market,” they suggested.
They said business support for entrepreneurs was sorely needed and the government needed to encourage entrepreneurship by offering tax breaks to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Banks, they said, also needed to offer competitive loans and good financial packages to SMEs.
Their challenge is their ability to meet the demands of their market. Others are training staff to work to the high standards and the high costs of good quality fabrics and accessories.
However, they have dealt with the demands by setting realistic deadlines for production which they communicated to their clients.
They look forward to growing their business and to expand to own many shops in Ghana and eventually in other parts of the continent.
They advised the younger generation to read books, take advantage of any personal and professional training opportunities that come their way, play a sport regularly and develop their creativity.
They added there was no perfect time to start a business and that there will always be challenges.
Nana holds can MSc in Gender and Development, BSc in Communications and Cultural Studies, while Abena has an MBA in MARKETING and is currently pursuing BA Psychology and Sociology.
Nana is the first and her hobbies are writing, reading, blogging and playing squash. Abena is the last of three children and her hobbies include dancing, kickboxing and vacation with friends.
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