Behind the Scenes with Ashanti Empress


Ever wondered what a standard day looks like for Ashanti Empress out in Ghana? Now you get the chance to see behind the scenes and witness almost first hand how our colourful clothing is made.

The days usually start with a little walk around Kromuase, the suburb I stay in, to call in on the tailors and check on progress. Then a hot and bumpy ride in a Tro-Tro (local bus) into Kumasi, Ghana's second biggest city and capital of the Ashanti Region.

Here is where my day usually gets a bit more chaotic, the streets are teeming with people, lining the sides of the pavements and selling anything you could ever imagine. There are car horns and shouts bombarding you from all directions and the heat is hot hot HOT so the sweat starts to pour from your forehead into your eyes! This overload on the senses becomes tenfold as you enter into the winding alleyways of Kejetia, West Africa's biggest market. There is a crush of people trying to enter and exit through the small pathway into the market and people are carrying all kinds of goods on their heads which I (being over 6ft) have to duck and dive to avoid crashing with. Luckily I now know my route into the market well and there are many familiar faces I greet as I walk towards the five or so isles which contain a multitude of fabric stalls all selling bright and beautiful African prints. 

Now the shopping really begins and I spend hours wandering the alleyways, armed with my big pink shopping bag to find the craziest patterns that I know you're going to love! The hardest part is that the fabrics usually only come in 12 yard (11 metre) pieces and sometimes I need over 100 yards of the same fabric to make a product in different sizes and quantities. This means I have to search high and low throughout the market to find enough fabric in the right print! It's not alway easy! The majority of the fabric sellers are women, nestled in amongst the shade of their piles of colourful fabric they spend their days selling, chatting and laughing. Other sellers pass through the alleyways throughout the day, offering their wares to the women, maybe a new pair of sandals, a pedicure or some lunch, I've seen it all! 

As my pink bag fills up I go to see my friend Kwame and unload all my newly found fabrics into a sack in his shop where I put them for safekeeping. Once the sack is full then Miele and her cute little son Karim (who fist bumps me every time he sees me) help me to get the goods out of the market and into a taxi. 

It doesn't end there! By this time its late afternoon and I go out again to drop off the new cloth with the tailors so they can start working on turning it into groovy garms. I pick up what they've made and bring it back to the house to count and check for quality before packaging it ready to be sent to the UK. 

There's always time for a quick story with Small Ruby and then its an early night because I have to do the same thing all over again tomorrow! 

 


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