Friday 7 June 2013

2Inspire Business Profile: Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah - Co-Founder of The Maksi fashion label

In this motivational interview we meet Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah who is the phenomenal co-founder of Ghana based Fashion label Maksi.
Nana works full-time and runs this fashion business with her sister and shares her story with us in this week's profile - be prepared to be inspired.
Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?

I don’t have a typical business day. It really depends on where I am, and what is going on.  for example, I will be visiting AWDF’s grantee partners in Abuja as part of our site visit team. The African Women's Development Fund (AWDF) is a Pan-African grant maker based in Ghana, and I work with the fund as a Communications Specialist. On other days when I am in the office I get to work at about 10am and usually leave around 8pm. I co-own a fashion label MAKSI with my sister so sometimes I will pick up clothes from our production unit before I go to work, or schedule a work meeting over drinks when I’m done in the office. I’m a writer and also working on a collection of short stories, so if I have no meetings scheduled after work I try and make time to write.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?
MAKSI started because I wanted to encourage my sister to become an entrepreneur at a much earlier age than I had. For several years I have balanced running a business with either a full time job or study, and often times done all three at the same time. One of my learning lessons has been that if you want to run your own business you should start early so you have enough time to learn from your failures.

Mbalyi model, make up artist and stylist wearing Maksi
What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
I think in a climate like Ghana where there is really no existent support for businesses, having a business that is over 3 years old, and is now a recognised leader amongst contemporary fashion businesses is an achievement on its own. I am also proud of MAKSI’s business reputation, we have worked with prestigious fabric companies like VLISCO, and we’ve been featured in a range of media locally and internationally including ARISE magazine, New African Woman magazine and Africa Magic on DSTV.

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
Working for MAKSI part-time has been the biggest challenge. MAKSI definitely needs more of my time.

What are your future plans for the business?
I want to continue growing and developing MAKSI as a brand. We already have a small accessories range, which we are currently expanding. At the moment we have 2 stockists in Accra (Prestige Boutique in Osu and WINGLOW in East Legon), and will soon be stocked at a third stockist in Accra. I see MAKSI as an international brand. People all over the world can purchase MAKSI at the moment from our online stockist but what I would really like is for MAKSI to have its own chain of shops in Accra, Kampala, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Lagos…

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Mbalyi model, make up artist and stylist wearing Maksi
I would have started my own business when I turned 18.

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
It’s especially important because society still tries to limit women, which makes it even more important for those of us who are passionate about women achieving their goals to to inspire young women. And this can be done in so many ways starting from living your best possible life, which is inevitably an inspiration to others.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
I would say, think of how you can be different from everyone else. What’s going to be special about your fashion business? What’s going to be your niche? How committed are you to your business? Think of who can be in your support team. Your support team can include a business partner, a financial advisor, a supportive friend, a strong sales team etc.

What or who inspires you in business and why?
I’m inspired by Helena Stephens, a Ghanaian business woman who started off running a small business whilst working as a civil servant and today has a telecommunications distribution business, an LPG business, a hotel, is a Unilever distributor, and probably owns other businesses that I do not even know of.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.” Henry Ford

Contact details:
Twitter: @MAKSI001
Mbalyi model, make up artist and stylist wearing Maksi

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