Ophelia Crossland’s Journey to Building a Fashion Empire in Africa
There has been a huge attention on Africa’s fashion industry and its emerging crop of fashion icons and their brands over the last decade.
This growth has been made possible by designers who have not failed to stay innovative over the years, creating unique designs and setting a standard for the industry.
Ghana’s Pan African luxury designer, Ophelia Crossland is one of the few.
She launched Ophelia Crossland Designs in 2004, and has over the years treated Africa and the world at large to her creativity.
From humble beginnings, Ophelia has grown to become a reputable force in the fashion industry across the continent dressing up women from different sectors of the economy.
In this interview with Founders Africa, she lets us in on her unique evolution in the fashion industry and how she has been able to make a mark in the industry.
Tell us about your journey to launching Ophelia Crossland Designs. How did it begin?
It started at a very early age. I used to play with dolls and fabrics when I was young. I later went to school to study Arts in high school and moved to the Vogue Style School of Fashion and Design.
I was actually the best graduating student during my year. I started my brand in 2004 after graduation.
What are challenges you encountered when you started out?
In the beginning, I had issues with getting qualified artisans and tailors to help me. It was stressful but as time went on, I managed to get these things sorted.
Also, plus-sized women were our only clients and it created this erroneous impression that we only made clothes for them but women of all walks of life have come to love us and we are grateful.
We particularly love the Timeless collection and we would love to know what inspires your styles
The Timeless Collection was inspired by the women in my life, namely my grandmother, a Former Miss Gold Coast and my mum, a Ghanaian fabric merchant.
I wanted the collection to reflect the growth of fashion in my family and how the everyday woman should look. Coincidentally, it was also to celebrate the Year of Return.
Which is your favourite of all your collections and why?
Our recent collection is our favourite to date. As you may know, the COVID-19 affected a lot of plans and women especially were greatly impacted. Working from home, managing the family and other details of life had a toll on most women and their mental health.
This collection which we call ‘Pure Love’ is to reignite their love for clothes and the joy of life.
Our tag line is simple; “Love is Radiant, Charming and too Beautiful to be Hidden in a Closet.”
You’ve won a lot of awards and created designs for top personalities. How do you make it happen despite the competition?
It is definitely the grace of God and hard work I must say. Our brand is synonymous with elegance, sultry flair and extravagant drama. We are now a household name in the fashion industry and these First Ladies and top personalities come to us for elaborate designs and styling.
How would you describe the fashion industry in Africa?
It is competitive and there are new ideas everyday. African trends continue to engineer the trends we see all around us.
What can be done to better improve the industry?
We need funding, we need a holistic education to be able to train designers and proper factories for production.
What advice would you give an upcoming fashion designer based on your experience?
Believe in yourself and don’t copy others. You need to invest in your creativity.
What’s your most memorable experience since you launched your fashion career in 2004?
We were nominated for the Swarovski Expose in Dubai and we represented Ghana in the UAE with a stunning kente gown and Swarovski crystals.
From your experience as an entrepreneur, what advice would you give young African entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
Every young person needs to work extremely hard. Entrepreneurship is not a 9-5 experience but a 12-12. There will be good days and bad days but keep your head up. Your product is the solution to a need and you’re really important.