Dzine Dzakuma: from chasing academic dreams to making clothes

The colours are bold, the lines tell you take a look at me, every head turns and everyone is intrigued about the patterns that the print has to offer. There’s only one person who does this best and that is Dzinedzormi Dzakuma, the woman who gave up her race in academia to dress the young ladies on the street of Accra.

Dzine, as she’s affectionately called, began her fashion journey at a pretty young age but she never took it as one of the things she’ll be doing with her life.

The Accra bred development expert began her life like any Ghanaian girl filled with lots of love and family, her mother, who is a caterer got Dzine in love with the use of her hands. Dzine first used a sewing machine while awaiting admission into the university, while in school she made her own clothes but never as a career.

“This passion for sewing continued throughout my time in the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, Holland, where I pursued my Masters’ Degree in Development Studies in 2007 after having worked with the Society of Women and AIDS in Africa (SWAA) in Dakar, Senegal in 2005,” she says with a smile.

She then dives headlong into her dream of being an academic so she left her job at the UN Agency International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Accra to go get a PhD in the UK in 2009 at the University of Sussex.

The beginning of the Dzine Dzakuma brand

While on vacation in Ghana in 2010, Dzine felt she was missing out in the growth of her children, so she deferred her PhD in development studies to spend time making trendy clothes as well as time with her family. She fell in love with what she was doing and has never looked back since.

“My husband was very understanding about my decision and very supportive and advised that since I loved to sew I should enrol at the Joyce Ababio College to gain more knowledge. I therefore had training for one year and rather than going back to the UK to continue my course, I decided to stay and establish my Clothing Line. This was how Dzine Dzakuma Clothing came into being. It has really been an exciting journey so far and I am because I am living my dream,” she laughs heartily.

Talking about her brand and the intricacies of the ready-to-wear clothes, Dzine oozes joy and pride in describing what she does and how she does it.

She says: “At Dzine Dzakuma we offer you a wide range of RTW clothes but our flagship products are mainly tailored jackets made from the local fabrics. These are displayed in a super spacious and beautiful showroom which makes shopping exciting and memorable. All the clothes on sale are of high quality and sewn with different techniques appropriate for the fabric and design of the garment.

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All the garments have a unique stamp of Dzine Dzakuma versatility and thus can be worn anywhere and everywhere with the right accessories. The clothes come in various sizes in the standard UK sizing. Thus there are clothes for everyone. At Dzine Dzakuma, you are assured of good customer service and customer satisfaction.”

On the talk of fulfilment, Dzine says that the fashion business is fulfilling because she made a decision to follow her dreams and has never had any regrets. “I had a burning thirst and passion to transform the way business was conducted because it looked as if many players in this industry did not understand and realise they were operating in a billion-dollar industry and that sewing was big business which should be taken seriously.

For me, the idea was not to make money but to establish a thriving business which would employ qualified people and through the execution of my duties, uphold the standards of sewing and be a good example for the many industry players. I derive a lot of fulfilment when customers have value for money for the garments they purchase and recommend the brand to others,” she happily sums.

She goes on to share her thoughts on the growth of the fashion industry, where she admits that the industry is fast rising as many Ghanaians have fallen in love with the local prints however, she explains that the industry is not moving forward because of its lack of proper structure.

Dzine adds that the industry needs to be seen beyond just it being a sewing outfits for customers but rather the industry players have to be trained beyond their apprenticeship skills and empower them with many more other trainings such as entrepreneurship skills, people management skills, time management, customer service and upholding the standards of the fashion industry.

“When they are empowered with these then the industry can compete internationally and be successful,” she notes.

Dzine also believes that Ghanaians have to do away with the misconception that people who sew are less academically endowed but rather embrace it and encourage their children to learn the skill of sewing.  She adds that the nation will only develop through an upscale in science and technology and vocational skills which is backed by a deliberate investment in the human resource through the acquisition of these skills.

Dzine Dzakuma’s biggest pet peeve in the fashion industry boils down to the rampant importation of cheap and inferior fabrics from Asia. As a Development Expert, she says this is a very worrying development as this new phenomenon is rapidly killing the textile industries.

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It is a fact that many years ago when ATL, GTP and Juapong Textiles were established they employed several thousands of workers but this is not the case now with the advent of the importation of foreign-made Ghanaian prints unto the market.

“Many of these imported fabrics are not of desired quality but with their competitive pricing, they appeal more to people than our locally made ones which are durable but slightly more expensive. This obviously has impacted negatively on the quantity of fabric production which has been scaled down to the barest minimum and this has resulted in making many bread-winners of households redundant,” she adds.

She intends to change the perception that dress makers are not reliable hence are not truthful, they do not keep timelines and schedules and many of them do not have the eye for detail and trained to design and sew for the various body types.

She explains that this is the case because many of the seamstresses and tailors do not understand that the profession goes beyond just cutting fabric and stitching but requires the expert use of the principles and elements of sewing any time they are producing outfits for the best results.

The mother and wife often starts her day with time with her family, school runs and then work where she receives many clients and gets things done by 2pm, she’s back on school runs and then more family time.

“I am a woman of many talents and as such there is no dull moment for me. My interests range from baking home pastries which my children and friends love and I spend a lot of time in the garden on weekends or when I get home early from work. I also love to read home-make-over/interior decorating books and I enjoy and admire great and exciting works of architects. I love to spend some quality with the children as well as I mostly get involved in their activities after school,” she says enthusiastically.

As awards are a part of any brand, Dzine believes her biggest award has been the joy on the faces of her customers and people who have been referred to her brand and have left satisfied.

The Dzine Dzakuma brand has gone through the marks and she tells that the brand in its growth is reaching to change the face of fashion by having her clothes in every shop around the globe because of their expert finishing as well as use her brand as a means of advocacy for local fabrics and finally, establishing an institution that would empower seamstresses and tailors and also give training in the techniques of sewing.

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