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Innovating Ghana's Creative Industry: The mSimps Story

Posted by Dayo Osikoya on

One of Ghana’s most untapped industries is the creative industry. Despite the global demand for African goods, little effort has been made to nurture and innovate the creative industry. We got up close and personal with Mabel Simpson, the founder, and CEO of mSimps to understand her journey into creating one of Ghana's first authentic handmade bag brands. 

Mabel embarked on the creative industry out of the drive to disrupt the stagnation of the creative industry and has successfully created a household brand. 

Sit back, and enjoy the mSimps journey.

 

What inspired you to start mSimps? I learned that you started this company with a borrowed sewing machine from your grandmother after you resigned from your office job! What inspired you to take such bold steps? 

My creative background and the lack of support and respect for the creative industry made me start mSimps. Also, I wasn’t impressed with the fact that people were skeptical about products made in Ghana. I wanted to change that perception.

How did you learn how to make bags? Was it a hobby that you turned into a business or a skill you needed to learn from scratch?

I had no idea about making bags. My background is in Communication Design. I’ve never been to a fashion school. It was trial and error, learning from our mistakes and continuous research that made us survive. For the business aspect, I take part in business related programmes and competitions, read and learn from accomplished business men and women.

How easy or difficult was it to sell your bags in the early stages? How did you acquire your first few clients?

I started by selling to my friends who were close to me to get their reviews. Then I started posting pictures on Facebook. Social media has helped me in building a relationship with loyal clients.

What makes your bags unique? What sets them apart from other bags?

mSimps bags are a work of creativity. Thanks to my design background, I always see them as art pieces. Art pieces need to have harmony, shape, color, and balance. Our bags are one-offs because we want people to ‘own’ the bag when they purchase it. We keep researching and improving on methods and skills all the time. We are never satisfied. It’s the creativity we put in place that has been able to sustain us in this industry.

How has your business thrived in the energy crises, first with the “Dumsor” and now the hike in the cost of electricity? How have you overcome these challenges?

I say, anyone who has survived/ is surviving “Dumsor” can survive any challenge in business. It’s been a painful and frustrating experience especially when citizens complain about the cost of products without considering all the factors that go into manufacturing it and also the fact the business needs to make a profit to survive and not collapse. I don’t know how we did it, what’s important is, we survived. As a business person, you have to survive no matter the circumstance and also have a lot of faith.

Did you ever feel like giving up at a point? If yes, what kept you going?

Yes, many times, I have felt like giving up. What keeps me going? The team that depends on mSimps for their daily livelihood, the clients we serve and those yet to discover mSimps, the people who look up to me and those I keep telling, “Never give up”. Above all, God keeps me going.

Where do you see mSimps in the next ten years?

In the next 10 years, the team and I should have been able to build a legacy. We should have been able to mentor the next generation and supported some to start their business. We should have made an impact on every young person in Ghana and Africa and the world at large.

 

There are a lot of people out there with great ideas, but for some reasons they haven’t started implementing them yet. Any word of encouragement for them?

Start small, grow organically, re-invest and you will succeed. Above all, you need to have passion, determination, work hard and smart, research and have self and financial discipline. If you believe in God, have faith in Him. 

Venturing into an industry with low prospects, Mabel has managed to create a thriving company despite all the setbacks. Do you have a dream or a vision that seems unattainable? Don't give up on that dream. Start small, and keep working your way up.


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