Super-Funky Ashanti Empress Clothes Are Handmade in Ghana Under Ethical Working Conditions, and 10% Of Profits Go To A Local School

As is normal here on A Wall Of Hope, this is not a sponsored kinda post! This is also not an ‘Adam gets free funky pants in exchange for writing this post’ kinda post!

I am not employed by Ashanti Empress, nor have I received any cash money or free gifts for writing this post. All Ashanti Empress items I showcase in this post, I have purchased myself, because I think they’re flaming amazing!

I decided to write this post (getting sick of the word ‘post’ yet?) because initially I was wowed by the beauty of the products Ashanti Empress makes, and then, when I looked into the brand itself, its origins, and how it operates, I realised it’s probably one of the best brands I’ve ever come across. Not only does Ashanti Empress make, honestly, the funkiest items of clothing I have ever owned, they also do it in a loving, sustainable way, that improves the lives of everybody who comes into contact with the brand.

So, with that in mind, here is the super lovely, super inspirational, super FUNKY Ashanti Empress story.

Funky Pants Are the Bestest Pants 

Do you know where you can get the funkiest trousers you ever did see and loads of other super-funky offerings too? Do you!?

Did you ever have one of those days where you suddenly feel the urge to find a fine fabulous pair of funky funky trousers but you can’t find a pair that’s funky for the planet too?

Because all the funky trousers you can find are made from un-funky materials, under un-funky working conditions, in an un-funky, mass-produced, junky up the planet kind of way? 

But I want funky not junky thank you very much! 

(You know, when you look up the meaning of the word ‘funky,’ there are multiple meanings. In some silly sausage-shaped circles, the word funky can actually have negative connotations, and can mean things like ‘musty,’ ‘weird,’ or ‘unpleasant.’ Well I say naaaaaaay to all that! For the purposes of this post, whenever I say funky, I am talking about the good funky, the spunky funky; the groooooooovaaaaay funky. Funky is a tremendous word so forget about all those silly negative definitions while you’re reading this post. While you’re reading this post, Funky=Life!)

When I say the word ‘funky’ in this article, I’m talking about this kind of funky! Beautiful, gorgeous, graceful, dance your pants off kind of funkaaaaaay!

Well well well well.

I had one of those days recently, but after trawling through multiple mass-produced brands that offered funky looking trousers made out of all sorts of plastic and poison and nonsense, I finally found a brand that makes proper funky trousers (and other funky things too), in a way that’s also funky for people and planet and the creatures that span it. 

So, do you know where you can get the funkiest trousers you ever did see and loads of other super-funky offerings too? Do you!? All made from super-funky (remember, this is the good funky we’re talking about!) materials in super-funky working conditions in a super-funky handmade kinda way?

Yes yes yes yes! You’d be correct if you guessed:

Ashanti Empress, that’s where. 

But what the hecklebreath is Ashanti Empress anyways!??? 

What is Ashanti Empress?

Ashanti Empress is an ‘ethical African fashion brand’ based between Ghana in West Africa, and Bristol in the UK.

Looking funkay!

According to the Ashanti website, ‘the brand was born from the idea of using fashion as a means to address issues of poverty, capacity building, youth unemployment, and female empowerment in Ghana.’

To do this, they work directly with Ghanain tailors, seamstresses, and craftspeople, and provide them with reliable, well-paid work and training opportunities. And all of this is done while creating some of the funkiest garments on planet earth!

The ridiculously vibrant fabrics used to create these funky garments are sourced directly from the Kejetia market in Kumasi. Kumasi is the capital city of the Ashanti region in southern Ghana, which gives nice meaning to the brand’s name, Ashanti Empress.

The super vibrant fabrics used to make Ashanti Empress products are sourced directly from the Kejetia market in Kumasi in Ghana. Kumasi is the capital city of the Ashanti region in southern Ghana, hence the name, Ashanti Empress!

As well as creating economic and creative opportunities for local Ghanaian folks, Ashanti Empress also donates 10% of all profits to the Blessed Mount Mary’s school in the Ashanti region of Ghana, which really cements Ashanti Empress in my mind as a truly wholesome, positive force in the world.

But where did this positive force come from? 

(Isn’t it great fun ending every section with a pressing question, hehe, like ending an episode of a TV show on a big filthy cliffhanger. But sure don’t we all have Netflix these days? You can just click onto the next episode straight away so what the heck does it matter if there’s a cliffhanger at the end of an episode? Well you’re right there Ted, and the same applies here. If you would like to know the answer to the pressing question of ‘Where did this positive force come from?,’ erm. Just keep reading dude, all will be revealed!)

As well as creating economic and creative opportunities for local Ghanaian folks, Ashanti Empress also donates 10% of all profits to the Blessed Mount Mary’s school in the Ashanti region of Ghana, which really cements Ashanti Empress in my mind as a truly wholesome, positive force in the world.

Where Did Ashanti Empress Come From? 

Ruby Maya, the super funky founder of Ashanti Empress.

Ashanti Empress was founded by a super-creative human named Ruby Maya from England,  but although the brand has only been producing its funky offerings for sale since 2015, this particular origin story goes back a little further than that.

According to Ruby herself, the Ashanti Empress journey really kicked off as far back as 2009, when she travelled to Ghana for the first time as an 18-year-old.

While there, Ruby spent about six months volunteering and working with a local school. Yes. YES! You guessed it again! The school Ruby worked at when she was 18 was Blessed Mount Mary’s school, the same school that receives 10% of Ashanti Empress profits today!

After her first experience in Ghana, Ruby came back to the UK and studied International Relations and Politics in Sheffield. (So it seems that she had no formal fashion training at all, which might explain why her designs are so distinctly unique.)

While in Sheffield, Ruby started setting up music events called ‘Ashanti Beats’ nights, with a focus on African music and ‘anything that makes you feel tropical and wanna dance.’ All the profits from these events are also donated to Blessed Mount Mary’s school back in Ghana. (Ruby has since moved to Bristol, and has continued these Ashanti Beats nights there, but because of a little thing called flaming Corona I would imagine they’re on pause at the moment. Goodness, just imagine the first Ashanti Beats night when the lockdowns are over. Just imagine the first anything night when the lockdowns are over! Hooooollllaaaaaay smooookes that’s gonna be fun.)

A Glasgow-Based group called Samson Sounds performing at an Ashanti Beats night, which was hosted at ‘The Jam Jar‘ community arts space in Bristol, UK, back in December 2019. The funds raised from this night, and many others like it, were all donated to Blessed Mount Mary’s school in Ghana, where Ruby worked back in 2009. (I’ve had a little listen there to Samson Sounds and it’s magical stuff btw, would highly recommend checking them out. I have added them to my funky list! <3)

Clearly, her experience working at this school, and of Ghana in general, must have had a profound impact on Ruby, as she has been helping to raise funds for the school and taking regular trips back to Ghana ever since. (What a flaming legend.)

It was during these trips back to Ghana that Ruby started going to the markets and buying funky fabrics and making her own funky funky clothes. Unsurprisingly, each time she returned to the UK wearing the clothes she had made for herself, people loved them. So during a trip to Ghana in 2015, she decided to invest ‘about £200’ to make ‘about 50 things’ to try and sell them to folks back home. On her return to the UK after that trip, she sold them all!

You could probably say that those first 50 or so garments marked the official beginning of Ashanti Empress, and Ruby has been going back to Ghana, creating new things, making connections with tailors and fabric sellers, and building up her marvellous brand every since.

During a trip to Ghana in 2015, Ruby decided to invest ‘about £200’ to make ‘about 50 things’ to try and sell them to folks back home. On her return to the UK after that trip, she sold them all!

Now I could do it, I could say something like ‘but what is it exactly that makes her brand so special?’

But I won’t do it this time. No cliffhangers in this part of the article, no sir!

Here’s a look at exactly what makes Ashanti Empress such a special brand. 

Why is Ashanti Empress Such a Good Brand? 

Ruby stresses the importance of ‘making sure everyone’s getting a good deal out of the business.’

Ruby stresses the importance of ‘making sure everyone’s getting a good deal out of the business.’ (Just imagine if every business owner on earth thought that way.)

And when she says everyone, she really does mean everyone, and then some!

Here’s how Ashanti Empress is helping to improve people’s lives and make the world a better place:

Empowering Ghanaian Tailors and Craftspeople

By purchasing fabrics directly from the markets in Ghana, and working directly with local Ghanaian tailors, Ashanti Empress is helping people in the local community to thrive.

Ruby guarantees fair wages and consistent work for the 35 tailors, seamstresses, and craftspeople she works with. These tailors all run their own tailoring shops and are commissioned to complete regular bulk orders for Ashanti Empress.

The consistent income generated from these orders has empowered many of these Ghanaian tailors to increase the capacity of their own businesses, purchase new equipment like sewing machines, and even move from renting to owning their own work premises.

But don’t take mine or Ruby’s word for that! Here’s a video of the tailors themselves explaining the positive impact Ashanti Empress has had on them! 

This is a really nice video which explains how Ashanti Empress operates, and also offers first hand accounts from some of the local tailors they work with, about how Ashanti Empress has helped them to prosper!

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due!

Ashanti Empress shows you on their website who it is that has made your clothes, which is a lovely touch and gives credit to the folks who have put their time and love into making these funky garments a reality.

One of my favourite things about Ashanti Empress is that they allow you to see exactly who it is that has made your clothes! This makes it all so personal and just makes you love the clothes even more. 

Here’s a page from the Ashanti website showcasing all the tailors and designers who help make these funky garments possible.

As you’ll see later on in this article, the man who’s responsible for making my super funky funky trousers is Francis Owosu; what a funky funky legend.

Being Kind to the Planet 

Some of the most popular Ashanti designs, known as the ‘colour me crazy’ patchwork designs, are made from 100% recycled fabrics! These recycled fabrics are leftover cutoffs from other tailors in the area that are collected and repurposed to create the extravagantly exuberant patchwork designs.

Ashanti Empress products are handmade in small batches, so there’s none of that mass-produced, industrialised, fast-fashion, landfill-expanding madness that you get from the more commercial brands.

The majority of the clothes are made from locally-sourced wax cotton and other natural materials, and are robustly produced to stand the test of time. So you should be able to cherish them for years and years, and once you finally do wear them out, they’ll be much kinder on the planet when you dispose of them compared to the plastic-based garments synonymous with fast fashion outlets. 

(It must be stated that although the majority of Ashanti Empress products are made from natural materials, the stretchy leggings are made from a spandex/polyester blend, which isn’t ideal, as these are both synthetic, plastic-based fibers. These are also the only products from the brand that are not made in Ghana, so this is probably one area that the brand can improve. Saying that, after doing some digging, it seems that even the most ethically produced stretchy leggings out there all contain at least some synthetic fibers, so maybe stretchy leggings are destined to always come with certain environmental drawbacks?)

Some of the most popular Ashanti designs, known as the ‘colour me crazy’ patchwork designs, are made from 100% recycled fabrics! These recycled fabrics are leftover cutoffs from other tailors in the area that are collected and repurposed to create the extravagantly exuberant patchwork designs.

The popular ‘colour me crazy’ style designs like the ones above are made from unused cutoffs collected from other tailors in the area, and the backpacks are even lined with recycled flour sacks from a local flour mill to give them extra strength!

Ashanti also recycles fabrics left over from producing their own clothes into funky accessories like headbands, wallets and purses, and even makes some of the most eye-catching backpacks you ever will see and lines them with recycled flour sacks from a local flour mill for extra strength!

Now that surely has to be the funkiest example of recycling I have ever seen! (Maybe they should call it, funkcycling???) 

Helping the Next Generation to Flourish 

By purchasing products from Ashanti Empress, it’s clear to see, you really are helping to improve a lot of lives, and to make the world just a little bit better, and funkier of course!

As I’ve touched on before, 10% of all Ashanti Empress profits are donated to Blessed Mount Mary’s school in the Ashanti region of Ghana; the school Ruby worked at back in 2009.

So far, the funds donated to the school have helped to accomplish the following wonderful things:

  • Provide yearly sponsorship to 18 of the most underprivileged children in the local area. 
  • Build two new classrooms in the school.
  • Build a library.
  • Invest in a school bus.

Moving forward, the Ashanti donations will go towards building a toilet block, and installing running water in the school in the near future.

Ashanti Empress helps local Ghanaian youngsters to flourish by donating 10% of all profits to Blessed Mount Mary’s school in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Tremendous stuff!

By purchasing products from Ashanti Empress, it’s clear to see, you really are helping to improve a lot of lives, and to make the world just a little bit better, and funkier of course!

Kids are the future, and Ashanti Empress is empowering them to make sure that future is a bright one.

Speaking of bright things, well isn’t that another way Ashanti Empress is making the world a better, funkier place!? By brightening it up a little! 

Helping Folks Around the World Look Funkaaaaaay! 

A funkier world is a better world, and as you have probably guessed by now, one thing Ashanti Empress is certainly good at, is brining the funk!

Literally everything they make is super funky, so probably best to check out the website for a proper look, but here’s a few of my funky favourites.

I mean myyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy goooooodness! Just look at all that funky funk! ❤

And remember, these Ashanti Empress designs are not mass-produced, and therefore they are all pretty much limited edition. The markets Ruby purchases the fabrics from in Ghana usually only sell the patterns in twelve yard pieces, and some of the particular patterns are very rare.

So if you see a design you like, and it’s in your size, probably best to get that order in pronto pronto pronto triple triple pronto!

When I was buying my second pair of Ashanti pants (hehe, Ashanti pants, funny!), to begin with they weren’t available in my size, so I kept checking the website to see if they became available and one day — one glorious glorious day — they did become available in my size, so I bought them.

When I refreshed the page after buying them, they were no longer available in my size, which means that just one new garment had been produced in my size, and once it was purchased, boom! It was out of stock again.

And remember, these Ashanti Empress designs are not mass-produced, and therefore they are all pretty much limited edition. The markets Ruby purchases the fabrics from in Ghana usually only sell the patterns in twelve yard pieces, and some of the particular patterns are very rare.

For me, the super limited availability of each design makes them that little bit more desirable, as there’s very little chance you’ll be rocking your glorious Ashanti pants at a music festival and the next minute someone strolls by you nonchalantly wearing the exact same design as if you bought them from flaming H&M or somewhere! Very unlikely that will happen with Ashanti Pants!

But anyways, enough rumbling and rambling. How did I get on with my Ashanti pants you might ask!? Do I actually like them? (Not much of a cliffhanger here, you already know the answer!)

The Funkiest Garments I Ever Did Own 

Behold, as referred to previously: the funkiest trousers you ever did see! (I wasn’t able to choose just one design.)

In all their funky funky glory, here are my two favourite items of clothing. On the left in the big picture, with the groovy red, yellow and white geometric shapes down the side, are the ‘Picasso’ trackies, which you can purchase here. On the right, with the blue, yellow, pink and black kind of honeycomb segmenty looking things, are the ‘Ntansa Ankara’ trackies, which you can purchase here. Both designs are flipping tremendous. You may notice that the sun came out as I was modelling the Picassos, and so I have touched up the Ntansa Ankara images a little to try and bring the vibrancy of the colours through a little more, but honestly, these photos still don’t do them justice. They’re even more wonderously vibrant in real life. (Also, yes, these photos were taken in the West of flaming Ireland in the middle of February! Like my goodness, look at those blue skies! It’s like the weather sensed that I was wearing these super vibrant trousers and reset itself accordingly. Flaming phenomenal stuff!

And I can confirm after seeing these products up close, and wearing each of them for days and days in a row, that they are both made from super high-quality materials, and really do look even better up close than they do in the photos.

The patterns on the fabric are incredibly vibrant, and the fabric itself is thick, stretchy, and robustly designed.

I can confirm after seeing these products up close, and wearing each of them for days and days in a row, that they are both made from super high-quality materials, and really do look even better up close than they do in the photos.

Based on the quality of the products alone, I would absolutely recommend buying from Ashanti Empress, and that’s not even taking into account all the other great stuff they do.

Speaking of which, a quick word for the man who actually made my super-funky trousers; Francis Owosu, who you can see in the image below.

According to the Ashanti Empress website, Mr. Owosu has been a tailor for over 10 years now and owns his own little shop. He is disabled and has difficulty walking so he relies solely on tailoring to support his family. He makes all of the Ashanti tracksuit trousers.

So to Mr. Francis Owosu, as the man who produced the funkiest garments I have ever owned in my life, I thank you dearly, and wish you and your family the very best for a prosperous future. ❤

And speaking of a prosperous future! 

Funkier Clothes For a Funkier World 

The more people who know about Ashanti Empress, the funkier the world will be. So, what are you waiting for? Start spreading the funky funky word!

Ashanti Empress is a very young brand, born from a love for the funky things in life and a desire to make the world a better place for everybody.

They make incredible products, in an incredible way, and serve as a perfect example of how we can use business to build a better world.

No doubt Ashanti Empress will only grow stronger and funkier from here.

The more people who know about them, the funkier the world will be.

So, what are you waiting for?

Start spreading the funky funky word!

About the Author

Adam Millett is a freelance writer for hire who specialises in sustainability and environmental issues. He believes the economy should be circular, businesses should make the world a better place, and that effective content is the best way to spread the word about sustainability. Visit his website at wordchameleon.com if you want to bring your vision of sustainability to life.

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