Last month, founder of AB2020 and Tech in Ghana Akosua…
UK-based childrenswear line Native Belle Boutique creates bespoke and handmade clothing in natural fabrics for 2 to 12-year-olds.
Founder Emily Aryee-Hyde tells AB2020 the story behind the brand, and explains why Ghana Fashion Design Week is essential for her to build an international business.
What inspired you to launch a fashion line for children?
I was inspired to launch Native Belle after having my daughter. I was looking for specific dresses made out of natural fabrics for her, but could not find them on the high street, so I decided to make them myself. Meanwhile, my friends who also have children liked my daughter’s pretty dresses, and started placing orders. That’s when I decided to turn it into a full-time business, and here we are five years on.
Where does the Native Belle name stem from?
The idea behind the name was to create clothing without borders – thus, the name was inspired by every little girl around the world and indigenous to her country. We see every child wearing the Native Belle brand, because every child is beautiful. Whilst the brand has mainly focused on girls, we are introducing a range for boys soon to meet the interest in demand.
What’s your background, did you grow up and study in the UK?
I spent part of my life growing up in Ghana, but most of it in the UK. I studied fashion and design, and graduated from the London College of Fashion, specializing in womenswear before starting my profession in the fashion industry.
How have you fused both the UK and Africa in to your business?
Naturally, coming from Ghana, Africa serves as an inspiration for me as a creative person, and also an avenue to expand my brand market reach. Currently, the collection is made in the UK, but I also work with local artisans in Ghana to create certain pieces of the clothing and Teddy Bear range. Thankfully, I’ve had the opportunity to take part it in the trade shows at Ghana Fashion and Design Week, which has been useful for my business growth.
The collection is accessible in a selection of boutiques in London for the UK market, which is still expanding. I already serve clients from different parts of Africa, with special made-to-order luxury pieces for clients in Nigeria and Ghana who sometimes want something unique. A made-to-order service is available for clients in the UK too.
This year will be your third showing at Ghana Fashion & Design Week. Why is the platform important to you?
The platform is really important as we are establishing our African market, and it provides a new frontier to the market for our business development. The fashion industry in Africa is opening for business in many different ways, and an international platform of this kind never existed in Ghana before. It’s a great opportunity to have access to support and promote your business.
How do you see the future of Africa’s fashion industry?
Indeed, the business of fashion is a new concept in Africa, but is growing quite quickly. There are areas that are improving, such as production, avenues for retail, access to e-commerce, delivery services, and payment gateways, which usually makes selling your products easy compared the UK. On the other hand, the lack of these services is also creating an opportunity for Africans to come up with solutions to solve these challenges.
The future of Africa’s fashion industry is positive, as the continent is coming into its own and new doors are opening for Africans to evolve and make a change.
What one piece of advice would you give to an upcoming designer?
Get the education, be passionate and keep innovating.
Ghana Fashion & Design Week takes place in Accra, Ghana 23rd – 25th October.
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