Claudia Lumor personifies the saying—success is not always about greatness, but consistency as well. A true definition of the adjective visionary, she is the astute brain behind the ever-growing Glitz Africa brand.
An all-round template of what a modern African woman represents, Claudia courageously ditched her relatively lucrative banking career to pursue entrepreneurship in an industry dominated by men — publishing.
A graduate of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Law, Claudia continued her education in the United Kingdom, reading Corporate Finance Law at the University of Westminster Law School, London.
Her first job was with Santander Bank UK where she worked for four years as a Personal Banker and then as a Savings Specialist. In 2010, she moved to Ghana and worked with Stanbic Bank for two years.
Despite realising at a very tender age that her dream was to work in the banking sector, Claudia has always had a thing for the media, interning at Multimedia’s Luv FM in Kumasi before entering the university. “I was looking forward to it”, she said of her brief stint in the global banking sector including Ghana, in an exclusive interview with The Business and Financial Times. “Once I did my masters, I knew I wanted to be in the banking sector”.
Based on that conviction, Claudia sought invaluable experiences in the banking sector in the UK, hoping to positively and greatly impact the sector when she returned to Ghana – her motherland.
She however realised along the way that working in the bank in Ghana may not be for her. Hence, urging her to look at other ventures that would bring her more fulfilment. She finally decided on publishing a lifestyle magazine to celebrate Ghana, and Africa and its people.
The Glitz journey
In the year 2011, Claudia took a bold step and followed her passion – telling stories of inspirational Africans in an aesthetic manner; her passion for the perfect depiction of beauty, fashion and aesthetics – to set up her own company – Glitz Africa Magazine.
Glitz Africa Magazine is a Pan-African aspirational brand that embraces Africa’s biggest successes and celebrities who are relevant to readers, current celebrity lifestyle, fashion, entertainment, wellness and living trends of the new African global citizen.
Recalling the 2011 decision, Claudia said in the interview that it was just pure passion and the desire to tell the African story; and more importantly, the Ghanaian narrative, a gap she had realised that cemented her decision to venture into publishing.
Aside from her love for fashion and lifestyle, she believes the magazine is a tool to change the narrative, especially the negativity portrayed about Ghana and Africa as a whole in international media.
For her, it is essential to tell the beautiful stories of the country to attract investors, and stories that will celebrate the efforts of our people, just like it is being done in other countries. “I loved magazines even when I was in Europe. I have always loved magazines and when I came to Ghana, I could not find magazines that I love. I am genuinely excited or interested when people are doing well, and I felt like people were not getting the opportunity to tell their stories tastefully. That was what triggered my interest in magazines. Even in Nigeria, they have magazines telling stories of people, and I felt we did not have platforms that were celebrating people in print, and that was the drive for me; it wasn’t just fashion and beauty – because Glitz is a lifestyle magazine. I wanted to build a platform that really would change the narrative and tell stories tastefully.
Every country has poor people, everybody is struggling. I have lived in London; I saw people living under the bridges just like in Ghana, but it is not the story we see on CNN. Hence, my passion to tell the tasteful side of our country’s story,” she said.
After starting as a small publishing house, publishing the best fashion/lifestyle magazine in Ghana and beyond, Glitz Africa, today has expanded its brand into various extensions.
These include Glitz Africa Fashion Week, Glitz Style Awards, Ghana Women of the Year Honours, SHE boss, SHE Summit and Glitz Foundation – a foundation created to focus on maternal health/childcare issues/advocacy.
“It is very clear that Glitz really spearheaded the whole fashion industry we have in the country. I started using my own money to take designers and models out of Ghana to do shows in South Africa, but I felt we cannot take all our people outside the country to go and experience how fashion really looked elsewhere as a business.
I then felt we should create our own small platform and bring the world to come and see what we have here, and that was how Glitz Africa Fashion Week came about. For ‘Ghana Women of the Year Honours’, it was to provide a platform that will bring the great women I have met in my journey, so that other girls and women can either interact with them or learn from them because I believe we have our own ‘Oprahs’ and we needed a platform that would tell their stories to inspire others,” she says.
Claudia, though has won several awards in her entrepreneurship journey, the impact of her works is what gives her joy and that inspires her to do more, she said. She was awarded the Start-up Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 and has been honoured on various platforms including The Most Influential Young Ghanaians.
She was also awarded the British council Fashion & Design Young Creative Entrepreneur of the Year 2015 and honoured as one of the most powerful players in African fashion in a UK publication, to mention a few.
Philosophy for life
On what her philosophy for life has been, the UN Goodwill Ambassador said: “Hundred percent service.” According to her, no matter how powerful is or how well one does in life, once he or she understands his or her purpose in life, the doors will open.
For every door opened to her, she is passionate about keeping them open so other people can benefit from them.
Claudia said she is inspired mostly by other women making strides, including former Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood; former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings; Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey; CEO of Reroy Cables, Madam Kate Quartey–Papafi; Communications Minister Ursula Owusu, madam Oboshie Sai-Cofie and madam Hannah Tetteh.
Beyond all the glitz and glamour, Claudia is a mother of three, a lover of political and investigative movies, and a lover of spa and books.
Glitz Africa 10 years on
Recounting the 10 years’ existence of Glitz Africa, Claudia describes the journey as being impactful and at the same time, a learning experience.
“It has been sweet and at the same time painful because as an entrepreneur, when you are using every bit of your finance to create a platform for other people, if you are not strong enough and not pulling energy from different places, you might stop. I do not think the creative industry in the last ten years have gotten the support that it deserves and things have changed a little bit in the last couple of years.
Now I think government and other institutions are understanding the impact and relevance of the creative industry and are supporting people – which is great- but it has been really painful setting up a team that can be loyal and can understand your vision. But the joy of it all is to see how some of the people that we started working with have grown with their brands and have also employed other people.
“For me, to be a stakeholder in this industry gives me so much joy and I believe so much in the creative industry, I believe so much in fashion and beauty in Ghana and Africa and to think that you were even a tiny part of that, to make all of this happen really brings joy,” she says.
Throughout the hurdles, one key thing to Claudia is consistency, believing that it is what makes people and especially her audience trust and value the Glitz brand. Again, consistency she said, makes them stand out.
Role as UNFPA Ghana Ambassador
For her role as a Goodwill Ambassador of the UNFPA, advocacy is a key thing that they do. Working with them in terms of policies, in terms of promoting or projecting the work of UNFPA has been Claudia’s core goal. “We partnered with them on Ghana Women of the Year Honours and SHE Summit; we’ve also used the magazine to project what the UNFPA does. Aside from that, I’ve always been part of UNFPA’s key projects – including a skills training programme for over 500 porter girls (‘kayayei’); and launching a call centre for victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV)”. Claudia called her relationship with the UNFPA as a humbling experience because their mission is something very dear to her. “I really believe the work that the UNFPA does for women, young people and children. I appreciate getting the opportunity to use my platform, network and access to project the work that they do. That’s how we’ve been working and I’m hoping that I would be able to do more with them as well”, she said.
Vision in five years
Glitz Africa in the next five years intends to increase its presence in other countries by replicating its programmes at those places. It also will be seen producing video content on lifestyle for television as part of an effort to improve on what they are doing and ensuring more impact.
“You may potentially see us doing more video content for television because we are a lifestyle brand and we have a huge load of content that somebody will say is just wasting away. This is to make sure that we are improving on what we are doing when it comes to the women’s platform, to the publishing side of what we do and the fashion week platform. It is the main platform that we have in Ghana and Africa.
We are one of the top fashion weeks recognised by the Commonwealth Fashion Council in Africa, so once we created the platform, it was not just about Ghana, it is about Africa as well. I see five years from now as developing those platforms even better and getting access to markets for our people here, as well as international markets,” she said.
Breaking the Bias
This year’s International Women’s Day preached breaking biases of any form, especially those towards women; and for Claudia, women should be given a seat at the table as long as they are capable.
“We need to break the bias, because for me as a woman, when I go into a boardroom, I just want to be seen as a person and what I bring to the table. It’s about time that people started seeing women differently. We are not just there to make up the numbers but we are here because we are actually contributing and we deserve to be at that table.
We are bringing women to the table because they are capable. They are there because they can do their job. I’m very passionate on these things, women deserve a seat at the table because they are capable and they can do it,” she said.