Young Ghanaian graduate Dzifa Amengor is head designer of luxurious cloth line Lamisigh. In an era where most graduates from Ghana’s premier universities are seeking for corporate and white-collar jobs, the flamboyant Dzifa followed her heart desires and ignored office jobs to follow her dreams and it has been an incredible decade for her in the fashion industry.
Dzifa who holds Bachelors in Arts degree from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi has built her brand and she is currently making waves in the industry with the likes of former President of Ghana Jerry John Rawlings, Kwaku Sintim Misa, Naa Ashorkor, United Nations Youth (Ghana) Lexis Bill and several others among her clients.
Dailymailgh.com writer Edmund Okai Gyimah caught up with Dzifa for an exclusive interview and she opened up on how it all began and how she has been able to make giant strides in the industry.
Dailymailgh.com: Tell us all about yourself and how your fashion designing business all began.
Dzifa: My name is Dzifa Amengor born on January 3, in the mid-1980s and raised in Sunyani in the Brong Ahafo Region. I have always had fashion in my veins from childhood. As far as I can remember, I was about 7 years when I used to sew “baby” dresses with hand stitch. However, as I grew my sewing skills also matured to using hand machine. This time I was in upper primary till Senior Secondary School. Fast forward, I became a professional I when I completed my first degree from Kwame Nkrumah University of science and technology, in 2009
Dailymailgh.com: Many graduates in Ghana always seek white-collar jobs, was it your dream to enter fashion business or it was by chance?
Dzifa: It had always been my dream to be a fashion designer. However, I was thinking and hoping that I would be working in the corporate world, gain some corporate experiences and seed money before getting into the fashion business full time. So technically, I was looking at being in fashion entrepreneurship about 3 to 4 years after completing my first degree.
Dailymailgh.com: As a young fashion designer what are some of the challenges you have faced?
Dzifa: I believe every career has challenges it poses and the fashion entrepreneurship business has its own share especially on the “amateur ” side. When I came into this career full time in 2009, I was relatively very young; all I had was my skill of sewing and designing which I had built over the years. However, I was not equipped with the “business tools” that could enable me to balance my sheets well. The entrepreneurial knowledge to implement something to buttress my skill was not made available to me. Also, most of the “fashion population ” at the time didn’t warm up readily to most of the styles I designed especially the “avante garde’ or the red carpet pieces I designed at the early stages of my career. I believe they were too futuristic for the potential clients at the times since there were no “events ” at that point in time that could promote these futuristic designs especially on the red carpet…. (As it is now)
Also, financial constraint was/is undeniably one of the issues that came along as I progressed in the years. Fashion is glamour, and glamour means money to project the idea further to a desirable pinnacle. I hear many people say one doesn’t need money to start a business, but to a larger extent, I don’t entirely agree with them especially in fashion entrepreneurship or designing. As long as one chooses this path, financial projections cannot be underestimated especially in this era where there are sophistication and advancement in this field in question. One can start from the scratch and try to gather and save some “coins ” from the revenue derived from the patronage of clients (just as I did) and expand as the years go by, however, it will take months into years and decades before achieving this desired goal. What I have realised is one cannot entirely rely on the clients since the average client in Ghana wants to do “service/designer shopping.”
Dailymailgh.com: You have been in this job for ten years now, generally, how has it been?
Dzifa: The unpredictable “loyalty” of the Ghanaian clients. I stand to be corrected but per my experience as I have plied this trade for a decade now, I have observed that about 70/80percent of the client who started or who come to you will not always be loyal…. ( For one reason or the other, ), the point is a lot of the contemporary clients will always “keep service shopping,’ that means the designer will have to do extra to retain them, but having said that, the few loyal ones will stick through the times…
Dailymailgh.com: Who has been your greatest inspiration in this business?
Dzifa: I always have my inspiration from God, who has blessed me with this amazing and evolving talent. Sometimes, I go to bed blank with no ideas but I wake up in the middle of the night with great ideas which most of them I believe are very much futuristic as it has always been for me from the beginning. I am also inspired by the skill and talent of the older generation of amazing designers ( both locally and internationally) who have stood the test of time and are still relevant in the system with or without social media influence namely Allan David, Winnigol, Adjedu of shapes, mazina Fashions, Joyce Ababio,Tetteh Plaha. The late Kofi Ansah of (Art Dress) who actually challenged me always possibly to be the version of myself, (he gave me two of his earliest designs he made in the 1980s) and wrote in it ” to the Hollywood bond” this was in 2006, I was an intern designer at the time during my vacation from KNUST. Whenever I get to that point of giving up, I get inspiration from those words. Through his training, I served as an assistant costume manager at the opening ceremony of CAN 2008. I look back on those days and I get more inspired to fuse the indigenous Ghanaian culture with contemporary fashion to project it to the world on a national and international level.
Of course, the new crop of designers and futuristic designers as well as potential designers are also a great inspiration to me. Also, my personal business development advisor (Mary Ann Lei,) a former Miss Universe contestant and a finalist. Undoubtedly, my clients, who have stuck with me throughout the decade as well as my immediate environment
Dailymailgh.com: Who are some of the people who patronise your brand?
Dzifa: I have come to believe that anyone who has used or purchased my product and have actually paid for my services is equally prominent, however, I would rather say that among the famous personalities and institutions who have patronised my attires in one way or the other are ex-president Rawlings, Adjetey Annan, Roselyn Ngissa, Zynnel Zuh, sparrow productions, Kwaku Sintim Misa (KSM), Porsche automobile, Miss Malaika, Lexis Bill, Joselyn Dumas, Naa Ashokor, United Nations youth (Ghana) and of course myself ( I patronise my own) , the list goes on and on.
Dailymailgh.com: How is the fashion design business globally?
Dzifa: Undoubtedly fashion designing is well lucrative outside Ghana, even in South Africa and Nigeria as well as other western developed countries, reasons being that they support and promote their own. They understand the business and art of fashion design as someone else’s lifetime career which needs to be respected just like any other career, especially in the corporate or formal setting. They have well-structured systems and institutions such as the well-defined and supported fabric and accessories manufacturing companies that promote the craft and business of fashion. This is to say, I am yet to enjoy the fruits of the labour and seeds I have planted over the years…
Dailymailgh.com: Has the media being effective in the fashion designing industry and any international recognition for your hard work so far?
Dzifa: It’s a Yes and No. Yes because aside this portal (dailymailgh.com) the only bloggers who have taken the pains to know and follow my work since I started are two Nigerian bloggers namely Yemmey Baba and Bashiru Olu (bash vision). For international recognition, No because I haven’t been invited outside Ghana for any special recognition of the sort…. (let me just say, the right time will come for that). I have lots of aspirations but I will rather leave it without spelling it in black and white at the moment.
Dailymailgh.com: Any projects done so far to help up and coming fashion designers or people with interest in it?
Dzifa: Well I believe in not just making clothes but rather making an impact with my craft, in 2018, I premiered the first ever television sewing tutorials class on fashion gh TV ( between 7/8 minutes) and it’s aired nationwide on Joy prime TV, TV 7 and max TV every weekday and weekends. This project has received lots of viewership among the population, especially among the millennials. I receive calls from all over the country and I am humbled when these callers tell me they look forward to the weeks ahead and also they can practice all the things they learn on the show. I am without doubt that it is meeting a specific need in the country and I am grateful to God.
Dailymailgh.com: Where are your stores located?
Dzifa: We can be found in East Legon, Accra Ghana. People can also follow as on Facebook @lamisi gh and Instagram @lamisigh
Dailymailgh.com: Any advice for up and coming fashion designers?
Dzifa: I can only advice based on my experience.
1. Have the passion for this career because it can be nerve-wracking and when it gets to that point, it’s your passion that will carry on.
2. Get trained. Before you get into the job, at least learn how to cut and sew basic things to save your face from shame. Practice and practice and practice
3. Be original, come up with your ideas that is when you will be relevant
4. Seek sound counsel (professional and personal counsel)
5. Don’t let social media deceive you… Roll up your sleeve, get your hands dirty, and work hard and smart.
Dailymailgh.com: Any specific targets in Ghana and outside?
Dzifa: Within Ghana, I look forward to doing business with people who are driven by the love and passion for merchandising unique products. Outside Ghana, in the U. K and the United States, I have a handful of people who stalk some of my products whenever they are going back. However, I look forward to meeting other people who are willing to strike a business relationship with my brand.
Dailymailgh.com: What are your principles of life?
Dzifa: Let God be your guide, don’t offer your body in exchange for favours. Be prepared to fail and rise. It is part of the journey. Compliment your skill and business with basic etiquettes, Pray for strength, have a purpose-driven career, impact on others positively and take one step at a time.
Source: Daily Mail GH| Edmund Okai Gyimah