Designer Titi Ademola got her foot in nearly a decade ago. Seeing opportunity in Africa, the Nigeria-raised, London College of Fashion grad left America where she did a stint working for Burberry in Atlanta, and set up shop in Accra, Ghana. Seeing that the womenswear and formalwear sectors were crowded, she initially launched Kiki Clothing as a children’s sportswear brand. Soon enough, her customers were saying of her pint-size designs, “Wouldn’t it be nice in an adult version?” Nine years later, Ademola has expanded Kiki to offer adult sportswear for men and women as well as footwear.
“I started in my mom’s garage with one tailor,” Ademola explains. Today, she has eight tailors on staff, plus two she places orders with when her team is fully allocated.
Opportunities notwithstanding, doing business on the continent isn’t always smooth sailing. Though Ghana has a National Tailors & Dressmakers Association to train aspirants in a three-year certificate course, Ademola had difficulty finding qualified workers. Additionally, Ghana, in particular, does not have a ready-to-wear culture. With clothing stores just beginning to crop up in the big cities, there is currently more business for designers who do custom work for their clients.
That said, Ademola believes the opportunity for growth outweighs the challenges, crediting the nation’s stability. “Ghana’s stability economically and politically has really helped,” she says. “The stability attracts more and more potential clients for me.”
Londoner Sena Dale Mortoo isn’t ready to make a permanent move to Africa just yet. “I think if the business became wildly successful in Ghana we would definitely look at permanent operations and investing in full-time employees,” he explained. Even if that were the case, “I don’t think we’d completely remove ourselves from the UK.”
That said, his vision for Morts and More includes having a major African presence. ”We know our products will do well in the likes of Nigeria and a number of other countries in Africa,” he said. ”Ghana is just the start for us.”