Success Story: Christiana Afotey, owner of Threads by Dreads
First generation American shares Ghanaian heritage through bold fashion for the socially conscious
As the youngest of four children in an immigrant family, Christiana Afotey fell in love with the rich Ghanaian culture and native language of her parents.
“I wanted my own scarves and couldn’t find anything I really loved in the store, so I started to make my own,” says Christiana. “When I showed my mother my first scarf, in her lilting Ghanaian accent, she said ‘Christiana…that is nice, but you can do more.’
“And I knew then that she was right – I could do so much more.”
Christiana decided to launch her own business as a social enterprise that would make a difference in her family’s home country. She launched Threads by Dreads, a fashion house where 10% of all proceeds benefit students in Ghana. Since all the designs are produced in Ghana, she’d be helping create meaningful jobs as well.
Threads by Dreads now offers skirts, dresses, bowties, bags, jackets, pants, scarves, and even home décor. And each piece is designed by Christiana and her team, and hand crafted in Ghana by local artisans using local textiles.
Business was good, but needed to grow.
After coming to a Blue Sky workshop, Christiana knew “she had stumbled upon a gem and great opportunity to improve her business acumen,” and was enrolled in the Embark Cohort.
“I knew I needed help with my business – I needed to focus on my value proposition to my target market. Moreover, I had no idea who my target market even was…terrible huh?!”
“After completing the Embark cohort, business revenue has increased four times over. The first five months of this year has yielded more revenue than what we did all of last year in sales,” says Christiana. “We secured our first contract with Nashville’s very own HBCU – Fisk University. I am so grateful for the support and partnering with so many amazing people. For the first time in four years, the business is not in the red and actually making a profit.
“If you’re thinking about signing up for a class at Pathway WBC, get your coins and give it to them… they’re worth every bit of it,” says Christiana. “The experience, the collaboration that took place among members of my cohort, and also all the advice and support I got from the Pathway team was invaluable. I feel like part of the family now.”
Small business success and a new social enterprise
Last year, Christiana officially launched the Mrs. Fedelia Adokailey Mensah Scholarship, named for her late mother who pushed her to do more.
“I’m humbled to create bold, daring fashion that you can look good in, and feel good about wearing,” says Christiana. “We’re helping put vulnerable children through school through beautiful and brave clothing, and I’m blessed to be able to do it.”