Young Entrepreneurs Combine Web Savvy, African Tradition

Young Entrepreneurs Combine Web Savvy, African Tradition

Overview

By
Kiersten Willis

High-fashion swimsuits should be readily accessible to all women, and a young fashionista and her serial entrepreneur brother have set out to make that happen with Kente designs with a message.

Ashanti Swimwear began after 27-year-old Dexter Opare encouraged his 23-year-old sister Yasmeen Opare, both born in London and raised in Ghana and the English capital, to take her desire to wear unique kente swimsuits on vacation and turn it into a company. Yasmeen loved to visit family in Ghana and lived there for six years, and that inspired the company’s launch.

“My brother Dexter and I have worked on many other business projects together since we were very young,” she said in an email. “He encouraged me to pursue this idea and brought his expertise so organically we became partners. We have a very honest and open relationship, which helps us to avoid conflict and challenges.”

Once the line moved into the prototype stage, the siblings knew their cousin Anita Atuobi was a no-brainer to develop the designs.

“She is an incredible pattern cutter and designer, so collaborating with our cousin was very easy,” Yasmeen said.

Ready, Set, … Setback

The business launched in 2016, and in March the duo launched a Kickstarter campaign to try and grow the business. They’d hoped to raise $62,000 but fell short, and that served as a learning opportunity.

“Our failure on Kickstarter taught us that our target audience are not familiar with using crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter and prefer to support us with a purchase on a customer-friendly website,” the Opares said.
Dexter Opare, with model Cilla Purple, manages the finances and marketing. (Ashanti Swimwear)

They switched gears to running a successful pre-order campaign on the Ashanti Swimwear website, where customers can exclusively purchase the Africa-inspired swim looks, through Monday, April 17, and said previous customers have migrated over to support the effort.

Dexter Opare, with model Cilla Purple, manages
the finances and marketing. (Ashanti Swimwear)