Nani’s Creations is a Beijing based business that uses African materials to produce colorful jewelry and accessories. African flavored party favors, passport cases, notebooks, tablet cases, and bags are also available; and the company accept commissions for custom made pieces.
Nani’s Creations is the brainchild of Yaa Anima Opare Appiah (also known as Nani). An engineer by profession, Nani left Ghana in 2014 to study for a masters degree in Beijing. Nani now juggles running Nani’s Creations with parenting two small children and working full-time as an environmental engineer.
How did Nani’s Creations get started?
It started in October 2016. I was conversing with my roommate about what we could do in our spare time because we were studying for our degrees. We decided to start our own businesses on the side while we studied. So while she started a travel blog, I started Nani’s Creations. My roommate named her blog “Marie Magesha,” which is where the name of our latest head wrap collection comes from—Magesha Headwraps.
I enjoyed sewing, and I had apprenticed at a sewing establishment when I finished my bachelor’s degree so I already knew a bit of sewing. I didn’t want to make clothes because I wasn’t too confident about my cuttings, so I decided to make jewelry. I chose to use jewelry as my niche, and coming from Africa, I decided to use African fabric.
Why did you choose the name “Nani’s Creations”?
Nani is a name my sister used to call me when we were younger. I chose it because it has a ring of sisterly love to it. So, when you see me and call me Nani, I’ll just respond because after all, I’m the Nani behind Nani’s Creations.
Tell me about the first sale you made?
The first items I made were a pair of earrings and a bangle. Miatta was my very first customer, and her Mum was my second customer. I had brought fabric from home, so my starting fabric was free because I already had it. I brought the material with me to China so that I could show it off to people on the national festivals or something. I didn’t think I would use it to make anything. When I met Miatta, she added me to the PUASA (Peking University African Students’ Association) WeChat group, and she helped me market my business in that she invited me to a PUASA event. I went and spoke about who I was and what I did. Nani’s Creations took off from there.
What have been some of Nani’s Creations highlights since 2016?
In 2017, I came out with two collections, and that really helped me propel my business. By participating in fairs, markets, and cultural festivals, I was able to push my brand name forward. In 2018, I was a part of the Africa Week pitch competition, and I won first place. Last year, Nani’s Creations also won the Pride of Africa award for best community service business.
Another highlight was being commissioned by MIPAD (Most Influential People of African Descent) to be one of the people who makes their official souvenirs for the 2018-2019 cohort; we made customized notebooks. We were also contacted by the Bookworm and asked to partner with them. So right now, when you go to the Bookworm, you will find our notebooks on sale in two sizes, and you’ll find tablet cases available for purchase.
What does Nani’s Creations have in store for 2019?
In a few days, I’m going to launch my website. People from around the world will be able to purchase our products via the website. They’ll also be able to see what fairs we are going to participate in and when they subscribe they can see the giveaways and deals. There will be newsletters and blogs about the African fabrics we use. We also want to help people learn about African culture because that’s our mission—To sing the unsung songs of Africa; to show people the other side of Africa, that Africa can be beautiful.
What type of material do you use for your creations?
I use fabric from across the continent. Right now, I’m using wax print from all over West Africa. I have material from Angola, and I’m starting a new collection that’s going to feature fabric from Cameroon.
How do you balance being a mother, working full-time, and running a business?
As I close from my 8:00-5:00 job, I do my Nani’s Creations work. It’s so hard. So, what I do is try to rope in my family. I give the kids scrap fabric to cut, and I let my husband make some parts of the earrings then I finish it off. So, it’s a family affair. It’s also another way of spending time with my family. It’s profitable time.
What advice would you give to somebody who is contemplating launching a business?
Just go for it. Even if your business doesn’t do well, you still come out with a learning experience, and you learn what to do and what not to do. There are going to be a lot of naysayers but believe in yourself and what you have to offer. Another piece of advice is never compromise on quality because, in the end, it’s quality that sells. In our business, we put this into practice by refusing to use inferior fabrics.
What distinguishes Nani’s Creations from other brands?
Each piece is unique. Truly one of a kind. If I use a piece of fabric to make five pairs of earrings, they won’t be the same because each part of the fabric is different. I can get five different styles from the same piece of material. When you buy from Nani’s Creations, you’re not just buying a piece of jewelry; you’re buying a whole continent; you’re buying culture, diversity, integrity, and quality. So, it’s not just jewelry; it’s everything.
For more of Pamela’s writing about life in Beijing, visit her blog: www.itisreal.net
Photos: Courtesy of Nani’s Creations