The Power of Connection
Have you ever experienced the power of word of mouth and serendipitous connections? This is often how things have worked out for me and for Yesisa; great people making introductions to great people. Six months ago, I was lucky enough to experience just that when I met Mabel Suglo. Mabel is a fashion designer and social entrepreneur providing job opportunities for persons with disabilities in the Kofordua region of Ghana. She is as passionate about fashion as we are at Yesisa and uses it as a vehicle to introduce West African lifestyle and culture to the world. Mabel recently participated in Young African Entrepreneurs event in Berlin, Germany and on her way back to Kofordua, we were able to catch up in Accra. Mabel has great connections all over Ghana, especially in the textile and craft industry. She was willing to help connect me with someone who could bring my jewelry designs to life.
First things first, we started out by going shopping. We were on a hunt to find great patterns that would match our bag designs. On one of these trips with Mabel to source fabrics and materials in Accra’s famous markets, Mabel introduced me to Sulemon, a craftsman and artist based in Accra. Sulemon has made traditional Ghanaian jewelry and brass works for over 20 years. He learned the skill from his father who was also a metalsmith from the Northern region. Sulemon was immediately adept at interpreting my sketches and modifications to the brass pieces I wanted to turn into jewelry. He produced some samples on the spot, a process that I was there to witness, and presented the first prototypes for the Yesisa alphabet and Time Changes pendants. I knew I had found a gem when I first started working with Sulemon. His calm and welcoming demeanor was apparent when I first visited and observed as he did his work while sitting on a bench in his shop.
Serendipity was at work when Mabel introduced us and our partnership formed from there. Now after a short time, Sulemon is Yesisa’s premier metalsmith making the brass pieces that you’ll find on our jewelry pieces and bag tassels. He owns his own shop at the Labadi beachside in Accra, which I still get to visit every time I am in town. With his team of four, Sulemon aims to expand his business with dreams of buying a larger shop and he hopes the companies that invest in his craftsmanship can get him there.
Here he is making the Yesisa Alphabet pendants last December.
We’re really lucky to have people like Mabel partnering with us, and Sulemon working with us, to create such beautiful and meaningful accessories. If it weren’t for fellow entrepreneurs supporting each other by believing that our dreams really can be reality and making connections wherever we go, I don’t know where we would be!
Don’t forget to check out the selection of jewelry in Yesisa’s shop. Every one of the brass pieces featured on so many of our accessories were handmade by Sulemon and his team! Connecting artisans like Sulemon to international markets (the customers!) is so important in ensuring that jobs in this creative industry remain sustainable.
Did you know that over 80% of jobs in Ghana exist in the informal sector? Many of these people are underemployed for their talents and are unable to participate in the larger, global economy. Read more about the risks of underemployment and what social enterprises like Yesisa can do to provide quality work opportunities: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-youth-unemployment-crisis-ghana-global-challenge-jeph-acheampong/