Having graduated from womenswear fashion in 2009, she said she had always wanted to use her experience in the UK to build a luxury African brand in Ghana and support the creative art and design industry there.
After interning for various prestigious designers in the UK, Afriyie-Kumi said the transition to entrepreneur came naturally to her. She decided to launch the handbag line AAKS after seeing a gap in the market for handcrafted bags.
After researching various fabrics she realised it was important that her bags be organic, natural, renewable and biodegradable. She then spent time travelling through Ghana to find the perfect place to make her hand-woven collection of bags.
Afriyie-Kumi said: “I stumbled across a small weaving community in the northern region of Ghana, which had the perfect tranquil setting of land and animals, women sitting under trees and weaving leisurely but with a skill that I hadn’t seen before.
“I knew immediately their skill set was exceptional enough to bring into reality my concept. I could see myself living there and making bags for a lifetime.”
Afriyie-Kumi said the weavers were friendly and welcoming from the beginning, despite her not being able to speak their language and she described her excitement over beginning work with them.
“The weavers have ultimately taught me to slow down and appreciate their art and also the time and difficulty it takes to achieve a handmade product,” said the designer. “I am also a keen learner of the art of weaving and in a great community of very talented women.”
The designer launched AAKS in September 2014 during the African Utopia Festival at the Royal Festival Hall in London.
She was featured in Vogue Italia earlier this year as an emerging designer from Africa and hopes to move into clothes and print design one day.
“I am enjoying it so far and will be doing bags for some time now before anything else,” she said.