A former Big Brother Africa housemate and celebrity fashion designer cum actor, Elikem Kumordzie, popularly known as ‘Elikem the Tailor’, has revealed that he mastered the art of tailoring by observing a neighbour who was a tailor.
He disclosed this on Joy Learning TV’s Entrepreneurship development programme dubbed, ‘The Career Trail.’
The fashion designer delineated that having deferred his course in his third year at the University of Ghana, Legon following his father’s death, he took the time off to follow his passion for fashion instead of being idle at home.
Originally, he would purchase off-the-rack shirts at Kantamanto, Accra, which he would modify and sell. However, as time went by, demand geared more towards hand-sewn designs, as opposed to ready-made ones.
“So it got to a time I couldn’t buy shirts from Kantamanto anymore because people wanted, oh but I want it in black, I have a funeral, or can you make something for me for a wedding? or can you make something for me for a funeral?”, then I’d say yes. I was home, I had deferred my course, so I wasn’t doing anything. So I just said yes to anything that came my way because, again, I was trying. The next thing I knew, I went to buy fabric. I was like, ah, who would I give this fabric to? So the more you try to follow or chase your passion, the more the road/way opens”, he expounded.
Faced with the challenge of how to create designs with the fabric he had bought, Elikem turned to his neighbour, a tailor, to help sew the fabric into the requested designs by customers.
“And so this is me taking the fabric – there was a tailor behind my house – I was like, okay, let me go and give it to this tailor to sew for me, and then I’ll collect it and give it to the customer. Then I started giving it to the tailor. Sometimes the customer will come, and the shirt is crooked, or the button is falling off; so it was like, I like this, but how can I get better? And this is where learning came”, he elucidated.
He further explicated that aspiring to be better at something always involves learning. Although fashion was what he wanted to do, the tailors were not helping him, in the sense that, they would sometimes disappoint him and not produce the exact designs requested by the customers.
Recognizing this for what it was; a huge impediment to his fashion prospects, he now resolved to learn the art of tailoring himself by visiting the shop of his neighbor who was a tailor and by critically observing every little thing he did in the designing process.
However, he aspired to be very different and unique, and so he vowed not to adopt the negative attitudes of some Ghanaian tailors such as sewing different designs than the ones requested by customers, as well as the bad habit of not delivering on time.
He, therefore, made the conscious effort to adopt the habit of constantly being on time in delivering finished designs to customers, because it was by so doing that he could receive payment from them, so as to boost his business.
Through this exposure, he realized that the art of tailoring was truly where his heart was.
The self-actualized fashion designer concluded by urging parents to expose their wards to several other fields aside from academics; such as gymnastics, piano lessons, swimming, among other extra curricula activities, in order to fast track their discovery of what they truly are passionate about in life.