Although the country’s population is approximately 31 million people, data shows that it receives 15 million pieces of used clothing each week, of which 40 percent is wasted. Furthermore, the value of used clothing shipped into the country has tripled in the last decade from US$65million in 2010 to over US$180million in 2020. As a result, there is an urgent need for drastic measures to address these issues and ensure that the fashion industry becomes as sustainable as possible.
One individual leading the charge to change this narrative is Clara Pinkrah-Sam, the Chief Executive Officer of Clatural Wear Limited (Clatural) – a luxurious, stylish, ethical and sustainable couture brand.
Multi-potentialite for impact
Clara Pinkrah-Sam is widely known as a ‘multi-potentialite,’ someone with diverse interests and creative pursuits. She has a broad background, having worked as a practising pharmacist, a medical transcriptionist, and an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) consultant with over two decades of experience working on private and public sector projects with organisations, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, and the World Wide Web Foundation, as well as Darose Pharmaceutical Limited, and others.
Her accomplishments also include being selected as one of the 100 women from around the world for the 2023 Vital Voices GROW Fellowship. This prestigious fellowship is a leading global accelerator for women who own purpose-driven businesses.
Pinkrah-Sam grew up in Cape Coast and attended Holy Child School before proceeding to Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy in 2000. She then moved to the United States of America, intending to return to Ghana within two years to write her professional exams. While in the US, Pinkrah-Sam worked as a medical transcriptionist before moving on to become a data entry manager and later, a call centre manager.
After returning to Ghana, Clara wrote her professional exams to become a practising pharmacist, but her diverse work experiences proved to be an advantage. She then pursued a Master’s degree in ICT at Aalborg University in Denmark. Her qualifications and experience enabled her to work with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank, and to champion the Government of Ghana’s eTransform project under former President Agyekum Kufuor, as well as other technologically-driven projects in the country.
Despite her success in these areas, Pinkrah-Sam decided to venture into the fashion industry. Having made strides in all these spaces, one will ask why fashion?
Clara Clatural birthed
Clara founded Clatural – a portmanteau of Clara and cultural – in 2017 while taking time off to be with her son. It was birthed from her hobby of creating unique and exciting designs from fabrics, and she was passionate about prioritising sustainability in her work. The brand is “inspired by the urge of today’s women and men for African culture, infused with modernism to create unique, rich and vibrant statement pieces of ethical and sustainable wearable art pieces for all occasions.”
Clatural’s operations are built on the belief of creating wealth from waste, with a zero-waste tolerance policy. The brand creates its signature designs – the MESH and the SHEM – from cut-off pieces of fabric, and uses a unique pattern-cutting skill that allows for zero waste. Additionally, the brand works with second-hand clothes and recycles them.
Clatural’s mission is to provide wearable pieces of art for both men and women globally while also providing skills in sustainable fashion and entrepreneurship to empower needy and marginalised youths and women in various communities. “We are committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while remaining socially responsible,” she adds.
The Clatural Lounge, also known as The CL, is located in Accra, Ghana and SoHo Manhattan at 420 W Broadway and 419 Broome Street in New York City. The brand has set a new trend in the fashion world and it’s clear that its commitment to sustainability in the fashion industry is only going to grow.
The Mesh-Shem Collection
The Mesh-Shem Collection – the newest to the Clatural collection – is a testament to the fact that sustainable fashion can be stylish and luxurious. The collection features the brand’s newest signature design, the SHEM, in addition to its globally recognised signature design, the MESH.
Clara emphasised that every outfit made by Clatural is consciously crafted with the planet earth in mind and their beloved client at heart. She reiterated that the brand’s zero-waste tolerance philosophy is at the core of how each piece is 80 percent hand-crafted ethically and sustainably into luxuriously stylish wearable art.
According to Clara, Clatural stands not just for couture, but also for a cleaner earth and the empowerment of mostly marginalised women and youths. “Clatural is not just a couture brand, we stand for a cleaner earth for the empowerment mostly of marginalised women and youths. Anytime you buy Clatural, you have invested in a timeless, unique, 80 percent hand-made piece(s) of wearable art which is/are also ethical and sustainable,” she said.
Clatural’s total workforce is comprised of 75 percent females, and the brand reserves two percent of its employment space for persons with disabilities. It is one of the few brands that prioritise the interests and growth of its employees. In addition to offering free skills-upgrading training every quarter, Clatural also provides free housing for all its employees.
The brand intentionally hires and trains needy and marginalised youths and women, providing them with employment and entrepreneurship training to enable them to grow independently, support their families, and leverage their skills for economic growth.
Awards and recognition
Clatural was awarded the Most Creative Brand and the Best Female Brand awards in 2021 by Ghana Fashion Awards and Honours. Also in 2022, it won the Best Female Brand and the Best Runway Collection at the Ghana Fashion Awards and Honours.
Clara is quite literally a walking billboard for her brand as she wears Clatural every day and is widely known for promoting it through her hashtag #iwearme. Her journey over the past five years has been marked by a dedication to precision, careful attention to details, unwavering determination, and a fierce sense of ownership over her brand.
In her own words
Business lessons for upcoming entrepreneurs:
In her experience as an entrepreneur, she advised: “Generally, if you want to go into entrepreneurship, you should be very ready. A lot of people are going into entrepreneurship now simply because they cannot find a job. It may be a good reason, but maybe you may not be cut-out for it.
As I am saying, it is a very lonely journey, it takes a lot of money, a lot of discipline, a lot of time, and you need to be cut-out for it. You should not just jump into it because you cannot find a job. So what I will advise up-and-coming entrepreneurs is to have mentors.
Remember, your mentor must not be necessarily someone older than you but someone who is doing something well in the envisioned space that you think you can learn from. Again, with the proliferation of the Internet and social media, sometimes, even choosing a mentor is difficult for the youths. A mentor is not necessarily someone who wears make-up, does the best photoshoot, and has a lot of followers – do not be deceived by the looks!
Be focused and discover what people are doing and how you can learn from it. Also, seek good advice.”