Gertrude Akosua Gyemfuah Awumee’s love for art and creating amazing things with her hand enabled her to easily identify her career path and build a brand that is gradually gaining recognition in Ghana and some parts of the world.
Gertrude completed Takoradi Technical University (TTU) in 2017, where she studied Textile Design. In her last year in university, she started her business – Trudie Art and Craft (TAC) – after she saw people making bags at an art centre and felt she could do better and make bags of better quality.
In four years, she has been able to build her brand, expanded her business and is currently exporting her products to countries like Australia, Canada, USA and UK.
“As part of my academic requirements as a textile student, I had to undertake an industrial attachment to gain industry knowledge, and I did mine at the art centre. While at the art centre doing one of my projects, I realised people were doing a lot of interesting stuff with their hands, especially with the bags,” she explained.
“So I got close to some of them and I realised that what they were doing was really nice but then I could improve on it cos I knew I had the skills, I had the energy and the drive to improve on those things… so I just picked ideas from there, I watched some YouTube videos and I made one – a travel bag – for myself,” she added.
After making her first bag, the support and encouragement she received from her family and friends propelled her to do more and eventually start the business.
“I describe my family as the best support system in the world because for the past four years, they have been incredibly there for me and it’s awesome to know that your family and friends will support your dream and vision.”
“After I made my first bag, my sisters loved it and they ordered that I do some for them. Some friends on campus also like the bags and I made more and sold them.”
According to Gertrude, her bags are of a high standard and quality because of the materials she uses. She likes to use very genuine and authentic African wax prints for her bags.
She also indicates that the quality of her bags, coupled with better customer service are what differentiates her brand and makes it the best in Ghana.
“Trudie Art and Craft is known for providing clients with the best form of service and this has given us a lot of reasons to keep going and gotten some clients to stick with us all through these four years. We offer the best experience of customer service and products, and do whatever we need to do to make clients happy… our brand is also built on honesty,” she said.
Her bags were recently purchased by the former Upper East Minister Hon. Paulina Tangoba Abayage, who described them as “authentic, purely Ghanaian, world-class quality.”
According to Gertrude, the availability of materials on the market and the constant increase in the prices of materials are some of the challenges she faces.
“We get our materials from our local markets. But sometimes you get there and something you bought two or three days ago is no longer available, meanwhile, a client has already ordered for a product to be made with that particular material, and that is a bit worrying. It is also a bit disturbing when you get to the market and the prices of things have shot up.”
However, she overcomes these challenges by understanding and knowing what her clients want and also buying materials in bulk to avoid paying a lot of money for materials.
“I can really tell what clients will really jump on… So when I have money, I try to buy in bulk or I try to buy more of a particular material and keep them because I know it is not certain that the next time somebody wants that particular thing, I will get it at the market.”
Future plans and Goals
As a textile graduate, Gertrude hopes to delve into other things aside from making bags. She hopes to add dressmaking, styling and grooming to her business in the near future.
“I would love to go into other things. I am a stylist and I do very well with fabrics, but I’m currently focusing on making bags. A time will come and we will add the clothing making, styling and grooming to the bag making.”
“The bag making is just a phase of the whole plan, which is to introduce the brand and we are doing very well… So I’m sure when we finally introduce our styling and bespoke dressmaking venture, the public will welcome it as they did with the bags,” she added.
Gertrude’s main goal is for her brand to become a household name in Ghana and also be known globally.
“I want my brand to be known across the world… but first off, my plan is for my brand to become a household name, such that immediately you hear of the brand, you can associate it with quality and all the good things that come with it. Its a dream to have our name on the lips of everybody”
She also wants to be able to teach others the skills of making bag and give hope to the arts and craft industry through workshops.
“I want to be able to set up workshops in different regions so that we will be able to train the indigenous individuals who have not even have a formal education to be able to cater for themselves and their family. I also want to coach individuals who might feel that the art and craft industry has lost its potency.”
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