Almost 5,000 miles away from where she grew up, public health practitioner, designer and CEO Evelyn Botwe started her own New York based business intersecting fashion, health, and entrepreneurship from Ghana to the diaspora and beyond.
Her clothing line Adepa, brings together the traditional African wax fabric with a contemporary edge. The line, crafted in Ghana sports modern designs like shift dresses, blazers, and shorts for her mens line, Botwe says her goal was to illustrate the value that there is in a platform that evens out the playing field for easy access to quality clothing from Ghana, similar to what one can find in the west.
“I am the CEO of Adepa. Adepa is in ‘Twi’ and it means something of value, something of worth, so Adepa basically stands for our group or our company trying to bring the value that there is in Ghana – the value that we don’t often see. We are trying to make it easy for Africans to have access to contemporary clothing and stuff that they would not have had online, so they can just go online and purchase it… Just like you can go online to any American website and purchase, they have that now… for clothing and African stuff.” — Evelyn Botwe
Adepa also provides employment opportunities for girls back in Ghana, where the clothes and accessories are made. The Adepa brand trains nearly 30 tailors from the Brong Ahafo region, just north of Kumasi, Ghana. The girls are given training for several months to a year based on their experience level, in order to nab down the quality of the merchandise. Then, their work is sent to the U.S. where it is put up for sale online.
“In the beginning I didn’t know how to tie all of this together the tailors were actually enjoying it [making the clothes] I would say, ‘oh your work will be sold in America,’ and I said it will be online and they were like ‘Really? I have to do my best at this!’ Then the help part came in, I started finding girls that couldn’t finish their education but that had very much skills, so we found tailors that were willing to work with them for a few number of years, and teach them tailoring so I guess, not I guess I am doing everything that is making me happy.” –Evelyn Botwe
The clothes are marketed to anyone with an interest in fashion. Although Botwe herself is a member of the diaspora and owns the fact that she started this business to help out those native to her birth country, the entire idea behind the brand is to make people happy and the world a smaller place.
“So basically, yes we’re selling clothes but we’re also selling our culture. So our clientele is anyone interested in the diaspora or wants to have something from there that they wont have to travel miles to get it or wait to get it. So we’re basically reaching out to Africans and non Africans, even friends of the diaspora who are interested in our clothing. So yes, it’s African fabric but the styles are contemporary so it suits everyones needs.” — Evelyn Botwe
“I’ve always loved clothes, I’ve always loved fashion, then again I’ve always loved to help people. Then I went into public health, the non clinical aspect of public health because I figured it would be a good way for me to reach people that needs help the most,” said Botwe
In addition to the training program, Adepa helps to give young girls a chance at education. During the school year Adepa holds campaigns for education under which proceeds from online purchases goes to fund the tuition and school supplies of young Ghanaian children in Ghana’s western region.
In the future Botwe and her team hope to expand the clothing line to feature more men’s apparel, flesh out the clay-based hand-made accessories, and potentially add on a children’s line. Currently Adepa has 21 looks for women and 6 looks for men with prices ranging from $30 to $70 USD.