Determination is indeed a wake-up call to the human will. After senior high school it is the dream of almost all graduates to further their education, enter into a university, read their preferred courses, finish with a good class and find a reputable job.
But what if your journey does not follow that thought-routine? Well, that’s exactly what happened in the case of Patience Blebo, a senior high school graduate. She couldn’t make it to university with her year group, but the good news is that she didn’t lose hope and decided to start her own business. She narrates her entrepreneurial journey to the B&FT’s Inspiring Startups.
Patience is a product of the Presbyterian Senior High School-Teshie, Accra, where she read Visual Arts with graphic design, basketry, leather-work and General Knowledge in Art (GKA) as electives. After completion in 2017, with her passion for handiwork and being inspired by the subjects learned in senior high school, Patience thought it wise to use the Internet to sharpen her craft; so she started watching YouTube videos.
According to her, she learned every design she came across on the Internet on how to make bags and other accessories. She continued to practice while learning new designs from people who were happy with what she was doing. With constant practice, she decided to take some samples to test the market to make some money for herself while awaiting results of the West African Senior School Certificate Examination. She started introducing them to friends and family – and the feedback was good.
“In school, I learned how to use cord and other materials like yarn to make pliable materials for constructing bags, purses, laptop-bags and many more. I had the passion for this, I love making things with my hands; so, I decided to learn more and acquire more knowledge and skills in that field.
“In 2019, I got in touch with someone who is in the textile business and she was kind enough to teach me a lot of what she knows over one year – especially ideas on the bags I do, what we call macrame. In 2020, I began to introduce my products to family and friends. The compliments were good so I started selling them to other people,” she said.
While doing this, the WASCE results came in; but to her disappointment, she had to rewrite some papers, and that seems to be a hard nut for her to crack, especially as she planned on reading Integrated Rural Arts and Industry at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) – a course on leather and textiles that she felt would enhance her skills and help her train other young ladies.
Failure to go to the university, however, has not dampened her spirit enough not to try again. Patience says she is studying hard to rewrite those papers and get back to school. For her, determination is her character; and whatever she sets her mind to do, she tries hard to accomplish it.
Shikas Knot designs and makes fashionable bags like purses, lady’s bags, laptop-bags and clutches. “What we do is macrame – a fascinating art that is part of textile and fashion design, and it involves the use of knots to create intricate patterns”.
Speaking on what makes the Shika’s Knot unique, Patience said her bags are more durable and attractive, as she carefully chooses her colours for specific designs – which makes them stand out. Again, she adds, despite the high quality of her bags, they are also affordable.
In the next five years, Patience wishes to have her own shop and train other young girls who have a passion for handicrafts like herself.
“My vision is for my products to be known widely in Ghana as among the best hand-made products, and also on the international front,” she said.
She also wants to be a university graduate in the next five years, a move she strongly believes will impact positively on her business and add to her brand.
As has always been the case for many start-ups, proximity to areas where the raw materials are available seems to be a challenge. Patience, like many others, has to travel to other regions to get the needed raw materials for production.
“The materials used are not usually here in Accra. I have to order from Kumasi, and this keeps customers waiting because I don’t use any machine; I do everything with my hands.”
How government could support
As government constantly reiterates its commitment to improve technical or vocational training, Patience said it must make provision to support young people who wish to start their businesses in the craft sector.
“Government can support young people like me by supporting us with the necessary equipment needed for our work,” she said.
Advice for prospective entrepreneurs
“My advice to young people, especially those looking forward to entering the entrepreneurship space, is to be passionate about what they do.
“Always love what you do. One thing I have learned is that loving what you do produces good results, in that you can explore to become better. And no matter what happens, think positively. My journey so far has been through my determination and consistence in what I do,” she said.
Facebook: Shikas Knot
Contact: 056 041 1547