I met Yaw Barimah a little over a year ago. I had been seeing images of his beautiful bowties all over social media and needed to have it on Dziffa.com. I’m happy to announce that we have Yaw’s beautiful bowties almost a year later and we cannot wait for you to see them. This week, I sat down with the man behind the bowtie to learn more about his journey and the brand.
Tell us about yourself and Yaw Baraimah Clothing?
Well, I’m Yaw Twum Barimah Baffour-Awuah. That's as far as I can describe myself because it is hard to actually put my persona in words. I'm an admirer of the renaissance era, where you have artists who are also scientists and philosophers. I have a Master's Degree in Management of Information Technology, but my truest passion is bringing ideas to live.
Yaw Barimah's brand is all about being yourself, wearing your identity and being authentic.
Yaw Barimah Clothing is but a part of the larger dream. It started out under a totally different name and it was meant to reflect my creative curiosities with fashion. Yaw Barimah's brand is all about being yourself, wearing your identity and being authentic.
Why Yaw Barimah? Why Bowties?
Yaw Barimah started off as Cross, then entered into a partnership with Zedi to become Zedi&Cross. The partnership lasted for about two years before we went our separate ways. I didn't want my dream to die so I had to rebrand it. With some prayers, patience, and hesitation of using the name, I ended up with just Yaw Barimah.
It was befitting to name my brand that because I was going to take on a venture where I had zero support, zero business experience, little to nothing in terms of finance.
Yaw being Thursday born in the Akan tradition; also being the day of mother Earth (Asaase Yaa) from whom all things originate from. Barimah meaning man, or bravery (coincidentally being the appellation of Yaw; again in the Akan tradition). It was befitting to name my brand that because I was going to take on a venture where I had zero support, zero business experience, little to nothing in terms of finance.
I look at her and I tell myself, I don't want your efforts to go to waste, I want you to be proud of your grandson having a legacy that his grandchildren can come and meet.
Why Bowties? Hmm, well, I fell in love with bow ties when I discovered Zara. Someone told me my design style is/was similar to Zara's so I decided to visit the shop one day and I instantly fell in love, especially with their bow ties. I would spend the next few years after that trying to come up with my own unique styles. Yaw Barimah is not just about bow ties, the bow tie is the welcome note of the brand itself. We’ll be branching off to other products soon.
How long have you been making Bow Ties? What inspired you on this journey?
I have been making bowties for close to three years now, but the first two years was just experimenting. I've spent the better part of my salary just buying different fabrics and seeing how they can work with my methodology. Countless sleepless nights just testing out theories.
YBC was finally registered in 2016 and we began to make our bowties a bit more commercial, though maintaining a low stock quantity in order to keep the philosophy of being unique.
What inspired me? Well, for the bowties specifically, it was first Zara, then my grandmother. I wanted to find a way to honor her and also pay respect to her heritage. She turned 98 this month btw.
She was and still is my greatest motivation. I look at her and I tell myself, I don't want your efforts to go to waste, I want you to be proud of your grandson having a legacy that his grandchildren can come and meet.
How do you differentiate yourself from the other bowties on the market?
Ahahaha, that's easy. YBC is YBC. It sounds vague but that is what it is. You see, for us, it is not just a product. It is our art, our peace. Each bowtie design comes with a story, just as the kente and fugu fabrics have their own stories from inception.
YBC is distinguished from other bowties on many levels actually, come to think of it; from concept design to manufacturing to customer service and delivery. It's made to last, just like any good story. Our products aren't made to be worn for just an occasion, and even the hardest skeptic cannot deny that our brazen style and envelope-pushing designs are unique; so much so that it can be recognized anywhere.
What are some challenges you've faced and what advice would you give others who are interested in venturing into their passion?
My major challenge was family and finance, followed by exposure. I'm not big on selling what I don't have, or promising what I can't give immediately. Neither am I big on asking for help so money was tight for me as well as meeting people who could possibly help me out in terms of investment or exposure.
I had to learn everything from scratch and employ all my IT skills as well, in making them; yes, IT skills because to me everything is linked depending on your perspective. I ended up working two other jobs to support my hobby and dream.
My advice to budding entrepreneurs is this, if you want to enter into this business, do it because you love it, not because it is profitable. Don't stop learning, cherish your sleepless nights, make the name, the money will come after.
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