It is the dream of every tertiary graduate to land a reputable well-paying job after school. But with the increasing unemployment numbers, one can easily predict how these dreams could remain under the pillow.
This week’s Inspiring Start-ups narrates the story of two graduates who turned their fortune around after months of searching for a job post national service. They are the founders of ‘The Cultured Man’, a men’s fashion accessory brand that is making strides in the fashion space and promoting African prints and Ghanaian well-known Kente. Read on as they narrate how it started and how far they have come!
As usual, duty called after graduating and they both found themselves doing national service. Bernice served as a data collection agent for houses in Takoradi at Zoomlion and Michael served at the Accra Technical University as a quality assurance personnel where he took records of the attendance of lecturers and how their sessions were conducted.
After national service, the two partners who knew themselves from school were stranded as their search for job for about four months yielded no positive result. However, they did not give up but were enthusiastic about putting their skills to work.
One day Bernice’s uncle’s wife who was staying in the United Kingdom (UK) visited her family in Ghana, and as she prepared to go back, Bernice thought of getting an African souvenir for her uncle, whom she described as having a classic taste.
She then decided to get him a necktie and a pocket square with the African print. Though Bernice was unable to get the gift ready in time, that act of kindness is what has turned into the business that has created a job for her and Michael her co-founder.
“Unfortunately, I did not finish in time, so I did not get a gift for him but my partner, Michael, got to see it and he thought this could be a good business worth pursuing so he took it upon himself to write a plan for the new venture,” she said.
She added that after they worked on a blueprint, they put together their savings from their national service allowance, explained the business idea to her mother’s seamstress and she produced a few samples for them to test the market with it.
The feedback, she said, was encouraging, hence, they worked on the packaging to ensure that clients don’t only get a perfect classic gift but that which comes with quality and nice packaging.
“So, I will say this brand started in 2018 after national service when life got real with us on our inability to get enrolled in any firm for work. We decided to come together to create something for ourselves with some little savings we both made from our national service allowance. If I remember clearly, after the trial stage, we started by bringing GH¢500 each together,” she said
The Cultured Man
The brand since 2018 prides itself in producing classic handmade neckties, bow ties, lapel pins, pocket squares, and other accessories that will give the ‘cultured man’ a complete look.
“Our products are assembled to meet the gifting and grooming needs of the corporate bodies, diaspora market, women, weddings, and the men himself and they comprise handmade neckties, bow ties, lapel pins, pocket squares, etc.
The products are handcrafted with the gentleman at the center of it all, thinking about how good and unique he will want to look and also carry a bit of ‘home’ in his daily ensemble,” Michael said as he speaks about what makes them stand out.
How education and training have helped
Though this business was not influenced by Bernice and Michael’s educational background, they believe their experience from volunteerism has been useful. For Michael, his marketing background has helped better position the business.
“The vision as a brand is to project our African culture and value to the world since there is a global submergence of our culture as Africans, thereby, becoming a Global brand representing the motherland,” he said.
Access to finance to scale up is a challenge the start-up has faced.
Michael added that getting the right people to work with is also a challenge as there have been instances where those trained to work with, end up leaving with the mind of starting their own business with what they have been taught.
How government can support
“We appreciate the initiative of the government revamping the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) program. We will also urge them to try and assist with transparent and merited incubator/accelerator programs with soft facilities like loans to help us as entrepreneurs implement and grow our ideas and make an impact for the overall betterment of mother Ghana and Africa at large,” he said.
Advice for prospective entrepreneurs
Speaking on what key things potential entrepreneurs and youth, in general, must consider, Michael said they should have a blueprint that will serve as a guide for their business or whatever endeavor they are in.
He said blueprints are crucial to the success of every venture as they will, to an extent, limit the mistakes one is likely to make.
“Rome was not built in a day but can collapse in a day. We need to adopt the spirit of perseverance if we truly believe in our craft and align them to the principles of business, especially with Key Performance Indicators,” Michael added.
Instagram and Facebook: @theculturedman_
Phone: +233 54 727 0254 / +233 20 950 6956
Email: [email protected]