I recently ran across a website that sells African inspired, hand crafted, jewelry. Not only did the artist, creator, entrepreneur send me some beautiful purchases but she graciously agreed to an interview! So below you have it. Words from the woman herself! Ms. Afua Kumasi! Enjoy! (This post features models wearing some of her fashions)
I have been making jewelry since I was 5 years old and I am thirty eight right now so that is about 33 years. My mother was a jewelry artist and allowed me to make jewelry with her as soon as I was able to hold and use the tools.
I started selling my jewelry at craft fairs, festivals, and African marketplaces about ten years ago and move onto the internet about two years ago because I knew it would open up a larger market for me.
It all started with the African marketplaces and customers asking how they could by my items on a regular basis so I decided to start doing business on a regular basis via the internet. That is when I opened my AfriqueLaChic on etsy.com and acquired the proper licenses to do business.
What is the inspiration behind your designs?
I love African culture from food to art and wanted my jewelry to reflect what I love. I try to use traditional African styles, and materials to create an authentic looking piece of African jewelry. I also wanted to create jewelry that complimented the traditional beauty of African women so I use styles and colors that our ancestors would have worn.
I personally create all my own pieces but I also sell vintage African pieces that are hard to find. In the future I plan to open my own website and also feature creations by other African artist from all over the world.
How did you come up with the name AfriqueLaChic?
AfriqueLaChic is French and I chose the name because I was dealing with a lot of African customers in France and trying to learn French to better communicate and that name just popped into my head. I now get a lot of French customer because of the name.
Right now I am solely online except for a few craft fairs and festivals I attend. I am not currently looking from a store front because I enjoy being able to reach customers all over the world online. Selling online also allows me to offer great prices to my customers without incorporating the cost of running a store front into my prices.
Where do you see your business ten years from now?
I would love to open several boutiques online with specific niches such as mens jewelry, natural hair jewelry, tribal jewelry etc. I would also like to be wholesaling my products to other vendors around the world. Hopefully the name AfriqueLaChic will grow amongst the African communities around the world.
Where is the strangest place you got an order from? And where is the farthest?
My strangest order came from Helsinki Finland and was for dread lock jewelry. The farthest order came from Sydney Australia for a pair of silver ankh earrings. It is really nice trading with people all over the world and having them enjoy my art.
Do you have anything you want to share with other would be entrepreneurs?
Yes. I would love to tell new and seasoned entrepreneurs something that my mom told me years ago and that is you have to spend money to make money. Opening a monthly budget for paid advertising will be a big part of your success. If you are not getting the word out about your business then it will have trouble growing. If it is possible try advertising with large companies such as google and yahoo. Advertising can be costly but it can greatly expand your customer base.
What do you think is one of the secrets to your success?
I think all of my success stems from my love of the craft. Making jewelry is not a job but a much love hobby that I enjoy doing every day. I am always enthusiastic about creating new pieces, marketing my jewelry, and finding creative ways to make a sale. I truly love what I am doing.
What do you want people to know about AfriqueLaChic that we haven’t covered?
I want to share that many of the beads I incorporate into my pieces come from all over the world. I love using natural elements such as stone, wood, sea shells, coconut shells etc. I use a lot of African trade beads hand made in Africa along with vintage brass African mask pendants. I create a broad range of styles from modern to ancient African inspired styles to compliment our beauty.
Any last comments?
Yes please check out my store and tell me what you think http://www.afriquelachic.etsy.com
Please go buy and check out Afua Kumasi and her website. With Mother's Day around the corner I am sure you will find this website very helpful!
Please visit my other blog:
You Won't Believe This