Day in and day out, we are finding new Kuulpeeps to introduce to our ever-growing family. Today, we have someone who makes really beautiful beads.
He has gained some form of popularity for himself in the KNUST fashion scene and this Kuulpeep is not showing any signs of slowing down.
You know that before we introduce him to Y’all Kuulpeeps out there, we had to talk to him. Yeah, we had a very good conversation with Emmanuel Laryea. If you’re curious about a guy who makes beads then you need not worry. We have all the juice from Emmanuel.
Kuulpeeps KNUST: Hey you, first of all, all of us know you’re called Emmanuel Laryea, we are guessing you used wordplay for your brand name, ‘El Perles’?
Emmanuel: El perles is a fusion of my initials and perles. EL for Emmanuel Laryea and Perles happens to be beads in French. I wanted it to sound a little chic and functional too.
Kuulpeeps KNUST: Emmanuel, people really like the style you put in your beads, how did you learn how to make beads and for how long have you been making them.
Emmanuel: It took me under 2 hours to learn how to make beads. I remember I had that lesson at the PeterPan restaurant at Madina. I was taught by a childhood friend who was into making beads but had lost interest at the time, because according to her it wasn’t paying much. I have been making beads for a little over 6 months now.
Kuulpeeps KNUST: you have been making beads for 6 months… That’s surprising considering how good your beads look. One could easily assume you have been making beads for a longer time than 6 months. Now, how is it that you learned to make beads under two hours? You must be very smart then.
Emmanuel: (Laughs) That is it, it never makes sense, not even to the lady who taught me. She still questions my work sometimes.
Kuulpeeps KNUST: Most of the people who are known for bead making are women. Were people welcoming of the idea of you making beads?
Emmanuel: There were a lot of mixed reactions, especially from my friends who had been with me for quite sometime. A number of them were wondering what had come over me or what at all could have triggered me to come out of my ‘super comfort’ zone. I faced some resistance from my male friends, but the ladies loved the whole idea from it’s inception though.
Kuulpeeps KNUST: Beads are part of the fibre of the Ghanaian culture. Do a quick scan on social media and you will find a lot of people who are making beads, some as a hobby and many others for commercial purposes, so what makes your beads that special?
Emmanuel: This is the most interesting part of bead making. Making yours stand out. That’s why I am making a film about ‘Why EL Perles isn’t just a bracelet brand.” You know, I want to put it out that EL Perles bracelets are symbols of hope. I believe we have all been in situations where things have been very rocky and we were sometimes just on the verge of giving it all up because maybe some challenges were too harsh to bear. So this is where I got my inspiration from. I sat down and thought, there’s a certain truth that all of us have in one way or the other trusted our God to work miracles for us. But then we easily forget this same Man in times of trouble. We easily give up forgetting that we have an anchor who is Jesus. One songwriter, Priscilla Owens, sang a song that “we have an anchor that keeps the soul….”And so I decided to use the ANCHOR as my brand symbol and pendant for my bracelets. As you are aware the ANCHOR is the heraldic symbol of HOPE. And that is why all my bracelets have anchors hanging on them.
Kuulpeeps KNUST: wow, that’s some deep thinking. All that for a bracelet? But you could have made different kinds of beads accessories, why did you choose to make bracelets?
Emmanuel: I needed an accessory that could be easily seen because of the message the anchor was to send. The necklace couldn’t fit into this because I came up with a theory that says ‘You never really can tell the state of your necklace without looking at it through the mirror or any reflective object.’ Based on this, I decided on the bracelet because, all you needed to do is to raise your wrist and you can see the bracelet and the anchor message it comes with – the bracelet was the best pick.
Kuulpeeps KNUST: You put a lot of thinking in your business decisions. What course do you read, maybe it will help us understand your thought process.
Emmanuel: (Laughs) I read BSc. Quantity Surveying & Construction Economics.
Kuulpeeps KNUST: oh… that explains it. How do you schedule your time to make beads and study? We know making beads is time-consuming.
Emmanuel: That was the major challenge from the beginning, but I came up with a schedule that has allocated time to both studying and working. It’s been good so far.
Kuulpeeps KNUST: Do you have any plans of going into large scale production of your beads?
Emmanuel: Uhm, I should tell you that I am going global. Currently, El Perles is selling in stores in New York, Virginia, Ohio, South London, Germany and Ontario, Canada. I am hoping to expand to other places very soon.
Kuulpeeps KNUST: So it’s just been a little over 6 months and you’re selling your beads in three continents, how did you manage that?
Emmanuel: I guess the expansion had to do with the level of dedication I exhibited. A few of those opportunities wouldn’t have been possible if I had shown a sluggish attitude towards my work. I have friends who helped me get linked to some other people interested in my work and yeah, that’s how it all started. It’s all about the network.
Kuulpeeps KNUST: Well, if you’ve managed to sell in the US, Canada, UK and Germany, then bead making must one lucrative business venture.
Emmanuel: I believe whatever you do in business can be lucrative and earn you good returns depending on how you present it. Making beads is one lucrative venture I want to convince a lot more people to consider. I see it to be more of a handmade fun than a business and I’m enjoying my returns.
Kuulpeeps KNUST: Your beads are beautiful, have they been this way from the past or you have had to change the creative direction over time to suit customer preference?
Emmanuel: They were unique designs from the inception and they have had people appreciating them since. They haven’t changed except that the new ones are more elegant and it takes a lot more time to make them.
Kuulpeeps KNUST: We caught on a little gossip in town that you leave a message the beads package box. What is the message?￼
Emmanuel: Yep, this gossip is true. I will show you a picture of the message. This helps me build a relationship with my customers.
Kuulpeeps KNUST: It’s also rumoured on campus that your bead making skills have made you very famous with the ladies, how true is that?
Emmanuel: (Laughs) I really don’t think that is true. Just a few of them though …(laughs)
Kuulpeeps KNUST: ei just a few girls huh? And have you paid attention to any of them?
Emmanuel: (Laughs) I’ve had a few of them support me with my work, so yeah, positive vibe. But uhm, I’m blessed with a lovely girlfriend who is almost always at my side helping make beads.
Kuulpeeps KNUST: Yeah, she better be at your side all the time. To fend off the others… Thank you, Emmanuel, for talking to us. We will get one for Kuulio…