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This weekend British born Ghanaian designer Abenaa Pokua celebrated the 1st year anniversary of the opening of her first shop ‘Ohema Ohene’ which translates to ‘Queen and Kings’ in the Ghanaian language. To mark the occasion, there was bubbly and nibbles for all customers.
Ohema Ohene which is situated in the heart of Brixton is a fashion boutique raging with edgy and contemporary African print designs fit for any Queen or King.
Visiting the shop for the first time, I fell in love with the menswear and footwear. With a drink in my hand and drooling over the entire clothing collection, I managed to catch up with Abenaa Pokuaa and ask her a few questions.
Me FiRi GHANA: Can you tell us what today is about and what it means to you?
Abenaa Pokuaa: I am celebrating being here in the shop for a year, and also celebrating the fact that the business has been going on for three years. And for me it’s a big achievement and a blessing that we are still standing through a difficult time as it’s a recession for all retail. So overall it’s about giving thanks to God and thanks to my customers.
Me FiRi GHANA: As a fashion graduate, what made you specialise in African clothing especially with influences from the Ghanaian culture?
Abenaa Pokuaa: I’ve always wanted to specialise in the African clothing. I particularly like wearing African prints and I feel you can’t really find anything that I would like to wear out there. So before I decided to do fashion I always knew I was going to have a label that used my heritage, so for me it was just like a normal thing like drinking water.
Me FiRi GHANA: How does it feel to own your own shop and see people buy clothing you have designed?
Abenaa Pokuaa: It’s a good feeling. It’s great to see people wearing your products but it is more interesting when you see people abroad who wouldn’t wear your products. I have a lot of clients and companies who come from Dubai, Japan, Finland, and Italy who are not Africans and who have never been to Ghana before, and I love seeing that. And it’s nice sometimes when I am on the train and I spot someone wearing my designs.
Me FiRi GHANA: Where does your inspiration come from?
Abenaa Pokuaa: I am inspired by my heritage and obviously inspired by London. I live in Brixton where there’s so much happening, so just anything can inspire me, even a pencil. But I’m inspired by so many other things, but mainly my upbringing and my environment.
Me FiRi GHANA: When it comes to top British born Ghanaian designers you’re definitely amongst them, how do you stay on top of your game to ensure you cater for your customers?
Abenaa Pokuaa: For me I design for myself and people tend to like what I like. But you do have to keep your eye on the game and see what other brands are doing. I don’t really look at other designers within what I do, I look at other bigger and more established brands and see what they are doing and see why they are successful and translate that to what I do here. You just need to be innovative rather than copy. You have to have your own ideas and if you have your own ideas you will always be on top, but if you are copying you are always going to be 10 steps behind.
Me FiRi GHANA: 2012 is just round the corner, what can we look out for?
Abenaa Pokuaa: Well there is so much happening next year, mainly two additional lines to the footwear range. There is a new style called OH! Afua which is a ladies wedge and they are wicked if I do say so myself. And I have got Espadrilles style footwear which is unisex, but my focus would be more menswear because I have a lot of guys always complaining saying it’s all about the women. So expect the menswear to expand further and also the footwear range expanding.
Me FiRi GHANA: In 3 words, what makes your clothing unique?
Abenaa Pokuaa: Style, Cut, Colour.
Abenaa Pokuaa for me is no doubt at the forefront of the revolution of African clothing and I can’t wait for the new footwear range, as I will definitely be investing in a pair or maybe two.
Make sure to check out the website www.ohemaohene.com or pop into the store in Brixton – 63 Atlantic Road, London SW9 8PU.