An Evolution: Vocational Training to Product Design

An Evolution: Vocational Training to Product Design

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The colors, the vibrancy, the meaning, the process- oh how I love the handmade products made in Ghana.  Whether it is the glass beads, the handbags, or the kente- it excites the side of me that loves the luxury in product design- the special details that make pieces unique. The side of me that appreciates the importance of slow fashion.

 

When we had funded the start of a small shop - City Chik Kriations- in New Akrade, Ghana back in 2014 the goal was to help the local community in having a place to learn local product design and sell their goods.  It was founded on a promise I made to myself to fund a project with the first paycheck of my new job.  When I partnered with Philip to start this endeavor - it was based on pure faith.  He had a vision to start a small business that would allow women and men to come together to learn the different techniques, to try their own design and to sell product along the main roadway to tourists and locals alike.   As it started it was designed around handbags and some of the local tribal jewelry.  We had no idea at that time that we were planting the seeds for something far more grander.

 

Sarah (pictured) was one of the people that has worked at the shop.  I remember our first meeting it was a year after the shop was formed.  She hugged me right away thanking me for the opportunity.  I felt her warmth in that hug and recognized that even though we didn’t have all of the answers...starting this shop was making an impact in this community.  Sarah has been critical as we have tried to expand our design to lean about the textiles and the kente.  I learned a lot about myself, about trust, about design process, about taking the time to get the details right - and simply time.

 

It has become about progress over perfection....it allows us to continue to evolve.  And our learnings continue- everything from the importance to detail, to refining designs so they were more tribal chic vs pure tribal.  Working across the globe throughout the process.  The greatest gift here is that what started as a small shanty has evolved into vocational training and now product designs.  We are still working out the kinks and that is to be expected.  But we are so close- can feel it. 

 

More importantly, there have men and women coming through the shop, teaching each other, selling their goods, - leveraging the pilot of the vocational training program. I am grateful that today we are ready to receive the textiles from Ghana and work with local designers and manufacturers in Baltimore to finalize our samples...this is going to be special combining two places that have become my home. 

 

It has been empowering for all to be part of a pilot that takes heart, passion, grit and determination.

Michael Molloy