Black-Owned Clothing Boutique’s Success Provides Unexpected Lifeline for Ghana-based Vendors

African clothing from Aloha Glamour

When COVID-19 created an overnight demand for personal protection equipment in the U.S., boutique owner Alexis Williams quickly pivoted her business model from clothing and jewelry to also offering washable African-print masks. And while Williams’ business, Aloha Glamour, enjoyed a viral success by selling the reversible, cotton face masks, she never anticipated how her achievement would impact other Black women on the other side of the world.

Because of Williams’ boon as one of the first wave of online vendors to provide the colorful print masks, seamstresses in Accra, Ghana recently shared how they have been able to purchase new sewing machines and move their business from an outside workspace to an indoor studio.

The vendors recently honored their alliance and successes with Williams by getting an artist to sketch her portrait and hanging it on their office wall.

“I never realized that by doing this, I would create an Afro-alliance of Black women and some men as well,” said Williams, whose boutique features African and Hawaiian-inspired products. “I knew they were helping me by sewing my masks after I went viral. I just never knew I was also positively impacting them as well. Along with getting new equipment and new office space, they were also able to hire two new people to help provide the products I’m selling.”

Along with African-print masks, Aloha Glamour also sources authentic African-made products like leather bags, hand-sewn sneakers, earrings, headwraps, dresses, bonnets and more. Williams said she intentionally sought-out African-based sources for her products because she had previously learned about their high-quality craftsmanship and work ethic from the Ghanaian native.

“It was important to me from the start to source my products from the Motherland,” Williams said. “I had already known a source for sewing because my former fiancés’ mother is from Ghana and she’s always provided me with beautiful, top-notch products from her homeland.”

Williams said her goal is to not only sustain the alliance but ultimately grow it by connecting other U.S.-based companies with Ghana-based vendors as part of a procurement service.

“I want to make this a global support effort so other vendors can also get high-quality products directly from Africa,” Williams said. “I want other businesses to avoid selling African-inspired products that are not authentic because I want the people in Africa to directly benefit from their own culture and our support as African-American business owners.”

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