Making incredible local dress forms with artistic passion


…the story of DLM Fashion Displays

A songwriter and actor, Jon Bon Jovi, once said nothing is as important as passion – adding that no matter what you want to do with life, be passionate. In this week’s Inspiring Startups, Darko Louis Mawutor could be described as evidence of how being passionate can make you strive to achieve your dreams. Read on as he narrates how the journey started and how it is going!

Darko Louis Mawutor, the founder of DLM Fashion Displays – a Ghanaian fashion firm that makes dress forms and mannequins, is the third of 5 children to two educationist parents in the Volta Region.

Growing up, he was an introvert – but he believes that gave him the opportunity to focus on his self-development skills and explore many ideas which made him a jack-of-all-trades or someone competent in a variety of small skills.

Mawutor was a science student at Bishop Herman College and proceeded to the University of Cape Coast to offer Biological Sciences, whereby he specialised in Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

After UCC, he diverted to follow his artistic passion in fashion; hence, he enrolled in a 6-month sewing apprenticeship before applying for Fashion at Accra Technical University – where he graduated as the overall best creative and innovative student in all departments.

But how has this journey led him to make Ghanaian-made dress forms and mannequins – of which a majority of the materials are from the country, including waste paper products?

Mawutor said the motivation to turn this craft into a business started during his one-year national service period.

He told the B&FT Inspiring Startups that during his National Service at Accra Technical University, students started showing interest in the way he made dress forms which were different from those taught in the Fashion Department.

The positive remarks and distinctiveness charged him to turn this craft into a business.

“I became self-employed right after the service, and built my customer base from there while innovating (changing and improving based on customer feedback) to meet customers’ needs from my backyard,” he said.

He added that though DLM Fashion Displays started as a partnership business in April 2022, prior to that the idea development and product viability test lasted for about eight years.

“My business philosophy is to be self-sustaining and largely independent of imported resources. Hence, I develop the business by innovating the entire production process of dress forms manufacturing by using locally-sourced materials to meet international standards. I trained Ghanaians as employees over the years on how to make products that are fit for the Ghanaian market,” he indicated.

DLM Fashion Displays

Currently, DLM Fashion Displays produces hip-level, thigh-level and knee-level dress forms for adult males and females; and is on the verge of producing corsets, kids, underwear, and upper and lower torso dress forms.

The products can be used for displaying clothing and/or for draping purposes whereby fabrics can be pinned on them. DLM Fashion Displays also offers repair, restoration and resizing services for customers who want to renew old dress forms.

“We also rent out dress forms for events such as trade exhibitions and workshop training. DLM Fashion Displays offers products for all sizes to meet the specific measurement needs of any customer.

“Unlike other firms in the space, we provide unique opportunities for customers to customise their products, and repair their old products.”

How education has helped

Mawutor stated that his educational background is a huge contributing factor in his technical business decision-making process.


DLM Fashion Displays’ vision in the next five years is set to become a thriving indigenous and successful home-grown manufacturing company, with comparatively high standards that cannot be ignored in the global marketplace.

It also hopes to serve as an important recycling company that adds value to other companies’ waste paper products, thereby playing an environmental role in the national sanitation goal.

Among other visions, it wants to become a thriving business that will be able to sustain more livelihoods through increasing employment as it grows, by establishing more national and international manufacturing factories, franchises and wider distribution to vendors and consumers.

“DLM Fashion Displays wants to become a business that takes advantage of viable, credible and long-lasting opportunities which will generate significant revenue the country benefits from in the form of taxes,” he added.


A challenge Mawutor said is affecting the startup landscape is the fact that many have to educate themselves in the field, as entrepreneurship courses in the educational curricula are “woefully inadequate or irrelevant to actual know-how on the ground”.

“I had to vastly re-educate myself to become competent as an entrepreneur. When you start as an entrepreneur, you are on your own to figure out the roadmap to success. If there are entrepreneurship development centres in the country’s various regions to guide entrepreneurs on what to do, the journey won’t have to be that tough. If there are already institutions like that, then they aren’t publicising themselves to be approached.

“Also, the challenge isn’t just getting capital but building a profitable, scalable and well-managed business that is attractive to potential investors and institutions,” he said.

What can government do to encourage entrepreneurship?

Mawutor believes one way government can encourage entrepreneurship activities is to ensure proper financial and entrepreneurial education and training are accompanied by grants, so that invested monies won’t go to waste as the case has been with ‘government monies’.

He added that the Ghana Education Service should also inculcate relevant and practical entrepreneurship lessons into existing curricula in the basic, secondary education system – saying this is a sure way to whip up interest in entrepreneurship by young people.

“Tax breaks for local businesses which help government in job creation and strengthening the economy will be healthy for entrepreneurial growth,” he added.

Advice to young entrepreneurs

“First, learn what entrepreneurship is; what it takes, what it offers you and the end-goal if you become one. Also, get teachers, coaches and mentors to fast-track your journey to know about and avoid the most costly mistakes. Thirdly, I advise young entrepreneurs to dream and think big, or else their decision-making and daily business activities will feel like a ‘9am-to-5pm’ job and won’t drive enough during trying times to keep pushing forward and higher.  When you start the business, be the best and first choice in the customers’ eyes,” he advised.

Contact details

Phone or Whatsapp on 0547172199, 0266867360

Facebook: DLM Mannequins, DLM Fashion Displays

Instagram:  dlm_fashion_displays

Twitter &YouTube: dlm4reva

Located at Adenta Commandos Research, Accra-Ghana

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