After Abena Boatemaah Duffour successfully completed her Master’s degree at the University of Leicester, she deeply considered the prospects of being an entrepreneur.
So while pursuing her course, she took the decision that would change her life.
Abena stayed in the United Kingdom and trained with ‘The Milliner’s Millner’, Rose Cory.
“That single decision to train with Rose was one of the best decisions I have ever made, because shortly after I got married, I quit my job to start a family and switch career paths,” she says.
As a child, Abena has always loved Ascot, millinery, and the arts. These events and interest heightened her love for hats, since they gave platform for participants to showcase their style.
She had toyed with the idea of making hats for many years, but in 2013, she finally braved it out and launched the Hat Box Company.
“I started professional millinery in 2013; before that, I combined it with my work in the corporate space along with family life and I found it quite tedious, so something had to give,” she recalls.
For Mrs. Abena Boatemaah Duffour, turning her hobby into a fully-fledged career and business is her biggest accomplishment, which has also given her the forum to share her talent with the world.
“We have been able to carve a successful reputation as Ghana’s number one millinery company, creating hats for a diverse array of women to complement their overall ensemble for multiple occasions,” a very humble Abena responds when questioned about the journey so far.
But the journey hasn’t been a walk in the park, especially here in Ghana.
Generally, millinery and hat-wearing as a fashion statement among Ghanaian women is fairly new despite British colonial influence, even among the elite and high society.
“When I first started, there was little or next to no appreciation of the craft of millinery with just a few names in the industry and most Ghanaians were patronising the already made hats from China which were sold in Makola,” she says.
To change the narrative, Abena says she introduced a fun and exciting way for clients to adorn their heads at all festive events.
“When I began, I was privileged to work with two women who were also part of my bridal vendors on my wedding day; Sumaiya of Pistis and Valerie Lawson of CVL makeup. They didn’t just treat my headpieces as a throw-on but an essential accessory that tied the full look together.
“These days, hat-wearing has become a family ritual amongst the female members, especially during weddings. Brides’ mothers prefer elaborate headpieces, while daughters prefer bridal headpieces adorned with stones, crystals, and precious minerals,” she notes.
After putting so much work into the craft, Abena says she has had the opportunity to style the Vice President’s wife, Samira Bawumia, during Ghana’s Independence celebration this year.
Considering the strides her company has garnered so far, Abena says she does not regret her decision to be self-employed.
“From small beginnings to a fully-fledged business, I am just proud of myself,” she said.
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