By Paul Ndiho
Ghanaian fashion designer Mabel Simpson has always been a fashion fanatic. Now she is the founder and creative director of her own label. Today, her use of the “African prints” has made her one of the Ghana’s top young designers.
Mabel Simpson resigned her office job in 2010 to launch her own clothing label in mSimps, since then, she has created quite a buzz on the global fashion scene. She has participated in several fashion shows showcasing innovative, unique and cutting edge fashion designs.
“Ms. Mabel Simpson is part of the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are trying to make a difference in their communities. She started her company with only $100.00 but today her products mSimps are trending worldwide.”
“I say that my client includes individuals who understand what Ghana has to offer. Individuals who want to project Ghana on the global market…individuals who still believe in Ghana and who believe in Africa. She says.
Simpson’s fascination with fashion- and love for raw African prints started when she was a young girl- and now she competes with some of the biggest names in the African fashion industry.
“For me starting mSimps was about making or manufacturing quality made-in-Ghana products, and just not selling in Ghana, but then making sure it could meet international standards so we could sell at the global market as well.
Simpson attributes her accomplishment to her client’s, and supporters. She says her goal of mSimps is to produce quality hand-made — products with African prints made-in-Ghana.
“I looked around and I said to myself, “if we can get the corporate institutions to wear African fabrics every single day because of their colors and patterns (the fabrics are a bit vibrant), what else can i do to make them wear it every day? So, I decided to make accessories. I started making dresses, belts so that they could still wear their corporate outfits and then have a little touch of African prints as part of their outfits.”
Fashion analysts say mSimps’s collections are known for their uniqueness. Here mSimps manufactures hand-made accessories such as handbags, dress and hair brooches, laptop bags, shoes and other accessories with African prints transformed into stylish pieces.
Despite her success, running a startup in Ghana has its own challenges. For example most people go for more than 24 hours without power and they have to rely on generators.
“You’re supposed to have 12 hours of light-there are times you can have it from morning…there are times it’ll come on in the evening. At one point our working hours were about 9am – 9pm and we still come back to work the next day. You need to work. It drains you financially.”
Fashion experts say the industry has tremendous potential to meet the growing demand for high-end products in the global market- including Africa’s growing middle class. Simpson says that young African designers can play a significant role on the continent through entrepreneurship.
“If you want to be an entrepreneur, i would say start small and then grow. And when you’re growing or when you start, don’t let money be your focus. If you let money be your focus, you’re going to fail. You need to sacrifice and make sure that you build the business.
As the mSimps label becomes more popular and expands, other young African designers are also looking forward to expressing their creativity in the marketplace.
Paul Ndiho is a Ugandan – American video journalist/ executive producer, Africa Innovations & Technology based in Washington D.C with interests in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship in Africa. He is passionate about mentorship and developing the next generation of Africa’s young leaders. Email:email@example.com, Facebook: Paul Ndiho and Twitter: @pndiho