Nina Baksmaty: Building ‘Koshie O’

It's 2011 and Nina Baksmaty is sprawled across her bed in her New York apartment. Nine weeks pregnant, in the middle of a business crisis and on the brink of giving up on her fashion brand.

But she is about to receive the most important phone call of her career yet.After bagging a degree in biology from Missouri’s Westminster College, Baksmaty found herself uninspired and no longer willing to see her pharmaceutical internship through. With an engineer father, she felt she needed to prove to herself she could excel at the sciences. But with the degree done, she found it impossible to resist the call of the creative in her.

Her sleep was often interrupted by the dreary thoughts of a colourless life, something she would become all too familiar with if she continued with pharmacy. In the end, it took a hearty conversation with her brother to garner the courage she needed to make the bold move.

Baksmaty had always flirted with fashion, sketching and cutting out patterns in her mother’s clothes-making shop as a child, or thrift shopping in the city of New York as a college student. In college, her dress sense and knack for accessorising had made her the fashion consultant among her friends. On her trips back from Ghana, she would bring clothes she had made, with help from her mum, from colourful wax prints and much to her surprise, they would sell out. She enjoyed the process, and thought she could make it work as a business: what was to become Koshie O was forming up in her mind at this point.

When Baksmaty registered her company in 2010, she was armed with bags full of passion, excitement and her mother’s advice. But had no idea what she was signing up for or that the concrete jungle of New York’s fashion scene was a place where rookies were taught hard lessons. Because Baksmaty was new to business, she became prey to some shady operators. Deals fell through, supplies didn’t meet her expectations and there was the pressing issue of a missing brand identity. Though she was not one to easily give up, she was often left second guessing her decision to ditch what would have been a relatively stable career in science to traverse the wild terrain of the fashion world.


It was while wondering what to do about her latest upset – a batch of poorly finished clothes a contractor had shipped, that she received ‘the’ phone call. Franca Sozanni, the Italian head of Vogue, fashion’s foremost magazine, was interested in her work and wanted to meet. She’d met Sozanni at a charity event earlier that year and although they had been introduced by a mutual friend, they barely spoke.

The call and subsequent meeting marked the beginning of a mentoring relationship that gave Baksmaty access to a wealth of insight and industry contacts, like founder and creator of high-end Italian fashion brand, Roberto Cavalli. The burgeoning relationship gave Baksmaty the exposure she needed to dispel her doubts. Overnight, her fears gave way to certainty and renewing her confidence the scalability of Koshie O.

Today, the Koshie O brand offers a refreshing take on everyday fashion wear, by combining African aesthetics with chic contemporary designs. Its luxury fabric combined with a touch of Africa-inspired motifs, gives a custom feel to wearable pieces suited to the modern individual on the go. Koshie O items include dresses, bags, skirts, accessories, sandals, blazers and shirts for men.

The brand has worked with notable celebrities like Michelle William’s from the critically acclaimed girl group Destiny’s Child and Eva Marcille of America’s Next Top Model.