This is the story of Akosua Afriyie-Kumi, the talented young Ghanaian designer and founder of AAKS that has discarded plastic, while producing an amazing array of fashionable bags made of Raffia, a biodegradable, organic plant product found mostly in Africa. Handcrafted in Bolgatanga, AAKS creates bags in style that have found excellent market in many parts of Europe and Continental America where the craze for biodegradable carry bags is increasing in leaps and bounds.
This post also carries the fascinating story of a two-member team of Indian entrepreneurs who had created history by way of producing trendy hand bags made of nature friendly biodegradable fiber called jute, under the brand name Richie Bags, while their products are extensively exported to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the USA.
However, in a recent interview about how her entrepreneurial journey started the young 20+ Akosua Afriyie-Kumi opened her heart and related her experiences as below.
“I grew up in beautiful sunny Ghana and art was a love from an early age, even though I also harbored a dream of being a pilot. Being top of the art class almost every year was a sign to me to pursue art in some form. So I left Ghana for London to study and expand my knowledge in art and design, be around other creative individuals, and to learn and develop as much as I could.”
“Like so many 20-somethings, it was a very intense period of my life. I was in a transition phase, and coming from a family of entrepreneurs I felt this deep need to figure out who I was and where I was going – also, in whose footstep to follow. The defining moment came when I thought, “Now is the time to make or break, to put myself out there and see what I am made of.” I knew I wanted to go out on my own and pull together all my passion and talents to create something unique that would be fulfilling both personally and professionally.”
When asked what inspired her most and how she got started, Akosua Afriyie-Kumi made no bones about how she ventured into the bag business.
“I established my brand, A A K S, after seeing a gap in the market for beautifully handcrafted bags. In Ghana, I grew up around basket bags – I used to give them as gifts and also use them for storage. I remember having a lot of ‘I wish it was more like this, I wish it was more like that’ moments… I wanted it softer, almost foldable and also more colorful with blends of colors which were tasteful and modern but also with a beautiful finish and detail.”
“Building on this idea I started researching into fibers – I knew raffia was soft and could be used to weave and create a different experience for me in the bag I wished to have. More importantly, its benefits such as it being an organic, natural, renewable and biodegradable fiber held an inherent ethical value which was attractive to me and very much in line with the vision and ethos I had for my brand.”
Turning our attention to the Indian subcontinent we found the same determination and resolve among the pioneers who created a mesmerizing array of chic and stylish jute bags by installing state-of-the-art plant and machinery, as well as employing teams of skilled workmen. Globally recognized as one of the leading producers of bags made of biodegradable jute fiber, Richie Bags today is a name to recon with, among prestigious Indian exporters who earn foreign currency for their motherland.