Kelly is a Mum to three beautiful children, Amali (5), Makeda (4) and Kingston (7 months). She loves interior design, photography and travel. She dreams of travelling around Africa, collecting trinkets to fill her home and to share these beautiful artisan made crafts with the world. She is also very passionate about improving the educational facilities for children in Africa.
Kelly tells us about her journey below
At Adinkra Designs, we import décor from Africa for the home and baby nursery. All of our products are ethically made from sustainable, eco friendly materials. Each product is unique like a piece of artwork. We work direct with the artisans to ensure that a fair price is paid for each item and adhere to Fair Trade practices. Every sale we make helps us to fund improved educational resources for children in Ghana.
When did you start your business?
We’ve been running for about a year now, starting in May 2017.
What was the inspiration behind starting this business?
In 2016, we were lucky enough to embark on a family adventure to Ghana in West Africa. We all absolutely loved it, it was a great opportunity for our children to meet distant relatives and explore their heritage. Ghana is such a beautiful, peaceful nation, rich in culture. We didn’t want to leave! We really wanted to take a part of Ghana home with us and inspire others to explore this wonderful part of the world and so the idea for Adinkra Designs was born.
What are you most excited about in your business?
Establishing our foundation, The Adinkra Project, is what truly drives us to achieve and grow. Through our partnership with AYI (African Youth Initiative), we are growing a network of Youth Centres in Ghana that focus on giving children a recreational space where they receive tutoring, access to computers, library and sports equipment. The Youth Centres provide a supportive environment for local children to gather, learn and play. A key part of the program is to support the children through individual casework, mentoring and counselling. The Youth Centres function to provide a consistent and stable program to supplement their schooling that aims to build their life skills and confidence to break the cycle of poverty. It’s an amazing grass roots not for profit that we are truly excited and feel privileged to be a part of. We know that the more our business grows, the more we can contribute back to the community, which is a powerful driving force.
What has been the most challenging thing about starting your business?
Managing a business across two opposite sides of the world poses huge challenges. There are days when there is no power at all in Ghana and so Internet is down, communication can be tricky. Thankfully we have an amazing team based in Ghana to work magic. This is the first time we have imported products from overseas and so the logistics and customs requirements has been a huge learning curve for us. We are still learning!
What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?
Find something you are truly passionate about, really understand your deeper purpose and your reason for establishing the business in the first place and you will never lose motivation. Also, take time to build up your network and build your tribe. Don’t try and do everything on your own. Your support network will be your life support!
Why did you choose to do the Women’s Business School Ignite Program?
The Ausmumpreneur Awards have a great reputation and I love everything that Peace and Katy have worked to achieve in building recognition for Women in Business. I had already joined as a member which gave me access to the Facebook group where I have learnt so much from advice shared in this forum. As soon as the business school was announced I was keen to participate, as I just knew it would be invaluable and a great opportunity to meet other Mums in business. I decided to apply for a scholarship and was lucky enough to be granted one.
What did you enjoy the most about being part of the program?
Prior to starting the program, I was confident in the direction and plans I had for the business but I felt there was still something missing. I studied Marketing and Business Management at Uni, I’ve worked for major corporate brands, so I felt I had a good handle on my business. The program, however, really opened my eyes to the importance of looking beyond the business practicalities, that the way we think can really shape so much. It has given me the confidence to step out of my shell to pursue my dreams. I am training myself to rethink: instead of that voice saying “but YOU can’t do that” I quickly shut it down with a big loud “well WHY NOT? of course I CAN!”. I loved how the program was like a rewiring of the way to think about not just how I manage my business but also how I reflect on myself.
What surprised you most about the program?
Even though the program was run mostly online, I didn’t really feel that I was doing it all alone. The Facebook group was a great way to throw questions out there and get instant feedback, even if it wasn’t related to the course materials as such but the networking and encouragement received from other Women was motivating and empowering.
Which module was the most helpful and why?
Financial Abundance – wow I learnt so many great tools that I put into practice to this day. Account keeping is not my strong point and it was something I would always end up procrastinating. This module made me realise that I was, in a way, burying my head in the sand about the financial situation of our business. This module made it so much easier, it really shifted my perspective on our financial position and I now make it a priority to keep my finger on the pulse. It allows me to carefully plan for growth and I am sure this has really helped our business to accelerate.
How did the program help you in your business?
It helped to focus in on our purpose and now everything we do is built around how can we give back to the communities that provide to our business. Striving for this change has given us such momentous drive to succeed. The program really helped to lay the foundations in which we now operate our business and I feel a lot clearer and positive in the direction we are taking our business.
What has been the best thing about starting your own business?
I had no idea how much of an impact my business would have on my children until recently when my daughter asked me to buy her some ribbons so she could make her own hair bows. She told me that she wanted to make her own bows and sell them to make money. Impressed by her entrepreneurial style of thinking, I asked her what she wanted to do with the money she makes. Here I was expecting her to say she’ll buy lollies or LOL Surprise Dolls (she’s 5 after all), but she replied in all seriousness “I will give the money to children in Ghana who don’t have much” – oh…my…heart!
It’s not so much the selflessness that took me aback, but the realisation about how much our children observe, listen and shape their actions on how we behave in front of them. I never really considered how much of our family business they paid attention to and completely underestimated how much they understand. My kids have attended the last few board meetings we have been to with AYI Centres and while I thought they were simply colouring in or playing, they have actually been listening to our discussions around fundraising ideas and clearly have a voice and want to be heard too!
Initially I thought that having a deeper purpose, knowing we are making a difference in peoples lives was the biggest driver for our business – but my daughter made me realise its actually much more than that, it’s not just our attempts to build a better future for children in Ghana, it’s also about setting an example for our own children, showing them it’s not about how much you give but the action of giving. And this has been the best thing about starting our business.
Would you recommend the Women’s Business School to other women starting a business? Why?
Absolutely. Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make and not only did I learn valuable tools to run my business, the Women’s Business School offered so much more than that, I learnt the importance of self reflection and mindfulness. The shared learning and experience from other Ausmumpreneaurs and previous Award winners was both motivating and inspiring. And not to mention the friendships and networking with other Mum’s going through the same experiences as you, holistically it was all really invaluable.
What’s happening next in your business?
We are expanding our product line in the next few months and this will mean we can reach a new target market and distribution channel along with some exciting collaborations happening soon.
What are your big plans for the future?
We are soon planning to embark on our biggest journey yet! We will be relocating our family to Ghana. This will not only be a great experience for our children but I am excited to have the opportunity to set up our own Co-op, to grow our team of basket weavers and be able to offer more skilled weavers a secure salary and working conditions well above the industry standard. Setting up our business base in Ghana will mean tighter control on quality and designs. It will also enable us to expand our wholesale offering at an international scale.
Importantly, it will also mean we can be more hands on with our community projects and oversee the opening of more Youth Centres across Ghana. We expect to undertake more travel around Africa and share more discoveries with our customers. Very exciting times ahead!
To visit Kellie’s gorgeous site adinkradesigns.com.au
If you are looking for support to get your business of the ground 2018 Women’s Business School Program is open now www.thewomensbusinessschool.com/ignite