Your Name: Emma Maame Efua Tandoh
What do you do?: I am a Founder and CEO
What’s the name of your company?: Love Ankara Limited.
Where is your company located?: Accra, Ghana
How did you get started in your field? : I’ve always been a huge fan of African prints. There’s no week that will go by without seeing me adorned in some ‘ntoma’ earrings, skirt suit, belt or neckpiece. African print has always been and will always be a part of my life.
As I grew older, I got more intrigued by our prints and their origins and this curiosity led me into a career within the biggest textile company in the world. There my interest was piqued as I discovered that this very print, and this very industry, that churned out my beautiful prints was under severe threat from Asian manufacturers who had found ways not just to imitate but to sell their counterfeits at rock bottom prices. The more I fell in love with our beautiful ntoma, African print or Ankara (as it is more globally known. The word is of Yoruba origin), the more I desperately wanted to do my part in preserving the fabric of our culture and tradition. This was the beginning of the birth of Love Ankara; a lifestyle fashion and retail brand that in its most quintessential form, seeks to awaken our African consciousness and preserve the authentic fabrics and prints that we have grown up to love.
Tell us a bit more about your company: In Africa, cloth or ntoma, ankara, or kitenge, is a way of life. Our fabrics provide livelihood. Our fabrics nurture, speak, & tell stories….Love Ankara is about re-defining what authentic African fabric is.
Our brand is a retail, footwear and accessories brand that seeks to promote authentic African prints, empower women and preserve our local textile industries. Love Ankara’s footwear and accessories are worn by powerful, outspoken, daring and empowered women world over… Women who are not afraid to be authentic, to be true to who they are!
Love Ankara is our creative way of depicting our distinct cultures and personalities by showcasing our rich heritage through prints, footwear and accessories.
How did your education and previous experiences help you to become what you are today?: I’m a firm believer in the adage that we’re the sum of our experiences and the fact that nothing happens in a vacuum and also that the universe always conspires to give you whatever you deeply desire. My current businesses, Love Ankara and Outspoken Edge are testament to these facts.
My career path has been diverse and quite interesting and the experiences have allowed me to hone my skills in areas like sales, business development, media, IT and digital marketing. These are skills I tap into everyday in both businesses and have made me more appreciative of my very early days as a corporate executive.
Is there anything else you are working on at this time?: Yes. I’m also the Founder and Lead Digital Strategist at Outspoken Edge Limited. Outspoken Edge provides affordable, customized digital media marketing packages that works for all business types in Africa. We offer full-service online marketing solutions for virtually every business need, including online marketing, website design, search engine optimization, pay-per-click campaigns, content creation and other services. The company was established in 2015 and has worked with a myriad of SMEs and brands across many industries.
How do you define success?: Fulfillment. Waking up EVERY SINGLE DAY in a job or the role I have and being able to provide a solution or service that impacts someone immensely.
Who are your heroes and why?: My parents! They’re the very epitome of my values and everything I strive to become.
If you had to start your career/company/organization over again, what would you do differently?: Ask more questions and learn a bit more about areas that interested me but were totally unrelated to my job. We’re all pretty much a sum of all our experiences and the more you know, the more capable and adept you are of excelling in diverse roles.
What are the top qualities you would require in someone who wants to work with/for you?: Passion and Grit.
What advice would you give to students, young professionals and aspiring changemakers/entrepreneurs?: Whatever you aspire to be, the most important thing you can do for yourself is to START. Then, learn as much as you can; take advantage of every opportunity you have to sell yourself and your business, use every resource at your disposal (family, friends, the internet etc) and trust in your journey.