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Monday, 28 September 2009 12:56

Ghanaian Fashion Designer Targets Great Heights

By Innocent Samuel Appiah

ACCRA, Ghana, Sept 27 (Ghana Business News) - The cynics and skeptics say she is only a young woman but the truth is that Sheila Ako, owner of Lisle Grandeur, publishers of In-Thing Maglogue has a kind of academic background that is solid like a rock and has very good eyes for fashion.


Today, this simple woman with a “Midas Touch” has the kind of ambition that defies the force of gravity. Today, she is soaring very high and making every effort to help make the textile industry sustainable in a fast moving fashion world.


“I want to set a fashion trend using our local print fabrics that have been designed and manufactured in western styles, bring to the fore the versatility of the print fabrics in the use of clutch bags, ship-ons, wallets, hair pushes and a lot more. The idea is to create a huge platform for our local designers to advertise themselves and their products,” she said.


Sheila explains that through such initiatives “there will be the creation of job opportunities in the textile and garment industry and fashion will move closer to where it deserves to be.”

Sheila, 28, started it all after obtaining a BA degree programme in Industrial arts, Textile option from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, where she came out with a First Class Honours and had the opportunity to serve on campus as a teaching assistant.


“Securing a job after school was one hell of a nightmare. I could not find a satisfying job. I later ended up in a private advertising agency after working with a bank for only one month as a marketing assistant.


“After staying with the agency for six months, I saw the need to move out and thus resigned. I did this because I felt the job was not challenging enough-it did not bring out the best in me. It made me feel less of myself each day. I then started Lisle Grandeur. I enjoy my humble beginnings and enjoy seeing my company grow steadily.”


Lisle is a textile term which means strong cotton fiber or fabric and Grandeur is a French word which means grand or of good quality.


Lisle is a creative house, which is into fabric design and production as well as fabrication for corporate, individuals and institutions, graphic design and event organizing. The company is presently located at Sakumono Estate, a suburb of Accra.


According to Sheila, she enjoys her humble beginnings and gets pleasure from seeing her company grow steadily but gingerly.


Sheila says in her quest to look for contracts, she thought of the textile industry, how it has come of age and what she can do in her own small way to help the industry to grow. With this in mind, she came up with the idea of a Magazine to project the image and patronage of the local fabrics.


She noted, “In every edition I try to sell an idea. I have already sold out the idea of clutch bags modeled in print fabrics and the subsequent editions would be promoting other ideas. In all these I would want to see that the people get more creative with the ideas that I am introducing.”


Sheila states that In-Thing Maglogue has been a big challenge. “I design it myself and have no financial support coming from anywhere, not even the players in the industry that I am seeking to project. Anytime I go out to look for sponsorship, all I hear is that ‘we cannot be part of it until you have come out with several editions.”


Fortunately for Sheila, In-Thing Maglogue is finding its way into the United Kingdom on BEN TV (Women’s Hour), a television network transmitting on Sky TV which reaches out to people in Nigeria, and the United States of America.


“It is my dream that we would be able to set a fashion trend using our local print fabrics and have the whole world craving for it. I will work hard to see our garments displayed on clothing racks in big-time shops like Next, New Look, Dorothy Perkings and others for sale,” she maintained.


Sheila believes that if Ghanaian designers want to go international then the fabrication of garments would have to be done properly to meet the tastes of those in the Western world.

In my quest to keep myself busy while I go in search for contracts, I thought of our textile industry, how it has come of age and what I can do in my own small way to help the industry, so I came up with the idea of a magazine, to project the image and patronage of our local print fabrics. I named it ‘In-thing Maglogue’. In-Thing simply means that which is in vogue and Maglogue is a combined word of magazine and catalogue since it happens to be in two sections.


Sheila indicated that the magazine has been a real challenge because she designed it all by herself and had no financial assistance from anywhere not even from the Local Print Fabric Producing Industries except a few good friends who saw what she was doing and decided to give her some push.


“One would think that with such an innovation, the concerned industries should be supportive but no, all I kept hearing as I went round looking for sponsorship was ‘this is your maiden edition and we can’t be part of it until your third or fourth edition, before we can think of being part of it”.


The young enterprising woman was of the view that if she is given the required push, the unique and distinct idea in which In-Thing Maglogue has been classified would be properly presented with no print faults.


According to her, the other greatest challenge has been in the area of mobility since she has to do the distribution in Accra, Tema and Kumasi in a commercial vehicle (Taxi), and this Sheila noted has not been easy and economical either, but there is no other choice to do marketing of this sort in her condition.


“I realized that if we are thinking of producing for these shops, then fabrication of garments will have to be done properly to be able to meet the desires of our target groups (people in the Diaspora, the westerners and the youth of today) since these people all have good taste.


For this reason I have a programme that has been packaged to build our garment industry ready for sponsorship and I hope to receive the necessary support when I reach out. It is also my greatest desire to launch the idea in the UK come December, 2009,” stressed Sheila.


“Finally I sit back and look at myself and I am more than satisfied with my handy work and what I have been able to achieve. I have made good use of my abilities and I can rightly say that, this is me, my true self,” she added.


In-Thing Maglogue has articles on fashion, finance, marriage, health and facts about life. It also has sections featuring prints and style as well as profiles of personalities in the fashion industry in the ‘Face of an Inspirer’corner.


It is a must read magazine for every reader because it consistently produces hard facts and suggests ways in which the authorities and all stakeholders could collaborate to make the clothing and textile industry vibrant.



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