Spotlight: Yelkeboro

As you all are aware by now, we here at The Clever African are very enthusiastic on black businesses and bringing them to your knowledge so that you can support them. Not even gonna lie this was long overdue on our part (sowwy!) Today, we are honored to highlight Yelkeboro, an online clothing line that sells custom made attire for women. Without further adieu, here is our interview with Yelkeboro!

Tell us a little about yourself.

Yelkeboro is an online clothing shop that sells customized hand-made
batakari to the U.S. market. But we are not in business to just sell
clothes, however. We are adamant about sharing the history of the batakari
and the Ghanaian/African culture with our market.

 

How did Yelkeboro start?

So we are all friends from a Ghanaian church in the South Bronx. Two of us
were living in Ghana from a long time last year. One of us noticed
batakaris around and decided to get one custom made by a tailor in Ghana.
Soon, we had all ordered our own; we loved it! We soon realized that we were receiving a lot of compliments and interests in the cloth from other young women, especially our friends in the U.S. We thought about the fact that the dashiki had become really popular in the
U.S. in the summers of 2014-2015. Everyone owned one, including some
prominent Black celebrities. Yet, no one knew the history of the cloth or
knew that it was now being massed produced in China, with no benefit going
to Africa and the Africans who created the dashiki movement. We saw a similar trajectory with the batakari if we did not take it into our hands. The batakari cloth is made of thick threads and has deep royal history. Just by virtue of how quality it is, we know that people will
want it once exposed to it; that it will become really popular. But, we
don’t people to disconnect with the history of the cloth when it does, and
we certainly want to help keep and promote the tailors from whom we source
our batakari, helping to maintain economic vibrancy in Ghana.

Is there a team working behind the scenes or is this line a solo venture?

Yes, we are a team of  but two of us work behind the scenes, supporting
our CEO, Jemima Asamoah, who is the face of the company. We all focus on
our individual strengths and areas, which has made running the business a
bit more manageable than it would be running it alone. 

What would you tell aspiring designers who are currently toiling with
their work and want to expand into a business?

Start. Start wherever you are and with whatever you have. We broadened
our appeal and reach significantly once we went beyond just providing
information and content. We have also realized that channeling one’s creative work into business is
a matter of exposure; look on social media, read books, and look at some
of the creative ways people turned their passions into business. There are
so many awesome examples and so many creative ways to do so. Exposure is
definitely key and we would advise any designer to open themselves up to
learning more about what is on in the world.  

What are some short term and long term goals that you are anticipating for
Yelkeboro?

Our short term goal is to successfully completely our first 3 campaigns
this year. We just completed our launch campaign and will complete 3 more
campaigns. For our first 2 months in business, we think we are off to a
great start. By the end of 2017, we want to supply to some small boutique
shops in NYC while also marketing and selling online. Our long term goal is to wholesale the batakari to retail shops beyond just the African market. It would be great to see batakaris from Ghana in
stores like H&M, Urban Outfitters, and Zara, which appeal to the
aesthetics our consumers have. We hope to really open the space for an
even bigger batakari industry in Ghana and on the continent at large, one
that lives and excels on the rich history of the cloth. If you couldn’t get enough of the fits you saw and want to rock them yourself, head on over to https://www.yelkeboro.com/women/

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