Written by our guest blogger and GUBA Foundation Team Member: Reginald Ofori Kyere
Like most kids growing up Ghana in the 90s and early 2000s, David Opoku- Mensah’s life followed a simple routine: be obedient, don’t skip Sunday school , study hard to become a doctor, a lawyer or some other “dignified” profession your parents would be proud of.
At a time when tailors in cramped blue kiosks were more popular than fashion designers, spending hours sketching, cutting out designs, and putting them together under a sewing machine was a career option never to be given thought to.
Returning to Ghana from the United Kingdom years later, David found a country that was buzzing with youth entrepreneurship on one front, and being pulled onto its knees by graduate unemployment on another.
Challenged by these stark contrasts, David set up A-COTE Collections to pursue a “new found” dream and provide employment for the young graduates. Six years into its founding, A-COTE Collections has become synonymous with high premium bespoke kaftans, shirts and dresses, with famous clients such as the Ghana Black Stars and GUBA Awards.
We had a chance to sit with David to talk about how he ventured into fashion, his association with GUBA and his dreams for the future.
What inspired you to pursue fashion? Tell us your story.
It was a case of serendipity. Frankly, as I was growing up, my teenage fantasies never went anywhere close to a pair of scissors, fabric and tape measure.
” I started with a friend and former partner, a tailor, one sewing machine, a bundle of guts and confidence “
I was fulfilling my national service obligation and brainstorming with friends and family, it became clear to me that the fashion industry, an area I had great admiration for, was still not fully explored; so my choice to venture into. I started with a friend and former partner, a tailor, one sewing machine, a bundle of guts and confidence all laced with a heavy rotation of posts and pictures on social media.
If you were to summarise your collection in a short sentence, what would it be?
A-COTE COLLECTIONS is a fashion amoury of quality, style and satisfaction where great attention is paid to detail so we essentially measure twice to cut once.
“At A-COTE Collections, we measure twice to cut”
What do you think about GUBA Awards and GUBA Expo?
They are two great ideas from one stable; as GUBA AWARDS strides into its sixth year, the EXPO awaits its second successful milestone.
“A-COTE collections is proud to be associated with GUBA”
Awarding hard work, creativity, innovation and affording Ghanaian businesses the opportunity to showcase their wares alongside their counterparts from the UK and Europe, is an enviable feat and A-COTE COLLECTIONS is proud to be associated with both events.
You sponsored the outfits for the male team members at the GUBA 2015 Awards, and took part in the GUBA Expo last year. How has your association with GUBA helped your business?
Our phone lines have been busy with calls from new clients from the UK, USA and parts of Europe. Sponsoring the male team at the Awards and taking part in the Expo has tremendously broadened A-COTE Collection’s client base. We continue to relish the international recognition of our kaftans, suits, shirts, ties and pocket squares.
What’s your favourite part about being a fashion designer?
It’s a potpourri of favourites ranging from the cutting, through to the sewing and final fine tuning. However, the best moments come when a satisfied customer calls to express gratitude for an excellent job done.
Should we expect A-COTE Collections in one of the stands at the GUBA Expo?
Right after the last EXPO, A-COTE put measures in place to take part in the upcoming Expo. So yes, God willing we will surely be part of it.
Where do you see A-COTE Collections in the future?
To be mentioned in the same breath as all the top fashion brands in the world.
A-COTE COLLECTIONS as part of its social responsibility came up with a COMMUNITY BASED SERVICE project to employ and train young people recruited from the Achimota-Tantra-Dome-mile 7 areas. These trainees are taken through basic tailoring and hands-on fashion designing skills and enjoy weekly remuneration.
In the near future though, these benefits will be extended to young people in other areas within the Greater Accra region. Ultimately, the dream is to set up a fashion Clinic.
Reginald Ofori Kyere