Kukua: Changing the narrative of the Motherland with africaboutik.us

africaboutik.us is the online store of Ghanaian-German designer and fashion blogger MsK NY. Five years ago MsK started her fashion blog African Prints in Fashion (APiF) and has expanded it since to a lifestyle brand with over 350K followers worldwide.

African Prints in Fashion is focusing on exploring the Imprint of Africa/African diaspora on Fashion and Design and aims to empower by showcasing the creativity and innovation that comes from the African continent educates and changes the perception of what people perceive to be African Fashion & Design.

africaboutik.us is bringing to you a contemporary mix of modern African Fashion and Interior Design. The platform offers a curated selection of Africa-inspired fashion, fashion produced on the African continent, accessories sourced from local artisans as well as designs handmade at our home base in Brooklyn, NY.

Kukua (MsK NY)

Tell us about yourself and what is africaboutik?

My name is Kukua and I am a professional Marketer and curator. Over 5 years ago I started with my Blog African Prints in Fashion. I used to always direct readers to online stores and online platforms when they asked me “where can I find that” or “where can I buy that?”

Eventually, it felt like it would make more sense to offer a platform with products instead of always directing the traffic elsewhere. That is how africaboutik.us was born.

africaboutik is a curated platform where I sell accessories and interior design items from artisans across the continent. And yes I do ship worldwide – also to the continent.


Which artisans across Africa are you working with and how do you connect with them?

I am half Ghanaian, so initially, I only worked with small artisans from Ghana as I felt more comfortable engaging with them and it was easy as I was able to meet them in person whenever I visited my family, and for new relationships, it helped to have parts of my family onsite.

My longest standing relationship is with an artisan in Accra, but I am also now working with artisans and small creative hubs in Morocco, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Senegal.

My key communication tool with my artisans is WhatsApp – that really works best for status updates, exchange of images etc.

Authenticity is really important to me. I don't want to sell the same thing like everyone else - @MsK_NY Click To Tweet


How is africaboutik changing the narrative about Africa?

The frustrating thing about many textiles and even accessories that initially are made on the African continent are that so many are now made in China.

Even if you are in Accra or Nairobi you can easily come across products made in China. At Africa-themed events in NYC, I see a lot of so-called “Made in Africa” items that are 100% made in Beijing.

My goal from the beginning was to only select and produce items that I like and that are not too common on other platforms and that is authentic.

Authenticity is really important to me. I don’t want to sell the same thing like everyone else. I like to be different and unique.  Being connected to my makers individually, I know who creates the items, I know their personal situation and they know I am a one Woman Business. We work together to make things work for both of us, and I love that.


Can you give an example of products you are selling and how you are involved in some of the developments?

What I produce myself is the African City Bag – a high-end canvas bag that sports African City Names. That was my very first and for a long time my only product.

I also do temporary tattoos of Adinkra Symbols and furniture like the lollipop stools. All these things are made in Brooklyn where I am based.

Besides that, I am sourcing different basket designs and accessories from Ghana, Morocco, and Tanzania. My best selling accessories come from Ghana and South Africa.

I keep on editing and adding or removing products from the store, depending on seasonal trends or things I like.


What’s next for africaboutik?

I am focusing more and more on interior design and want to eventually make it my sole focus. I loved the process of creating my lollipop stools, so I want to my make more like that.

Currently, I am looking for young fashion/design influencers who can help me elevate my brand. If you are one and you are reading this, holler at me!


Where can people learn more about africaboutik?

Follow me on Instagram, check-out my online store, and follow my blog.

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I started Cartik with less than $3 to my name

I started Cartik, an ethical fashion and social entrepreneurship brand in 2013 while studying abroad in Ghana. A significant part of my program as an International Relations major at St. Catherine’s University in St. Paul, Minneapolis, was to study abroad for a semester or a year. So, I spent a semester in Paris, France on a scholarship sponsored by the US Department of State’s Bureau of educational and cultural affairs. After my time in France, I planned to go to Ghana to study the culture, the people, and their political system.

My scholarship to Ghana was declined but I was already enrolled in the program that summer. So, I worked every job I could find and saved enough money to purchase a ticket to Ghana.  My tuition covered the fees and the only issue left was my survival for the rest of the semester. Struggling to go to Ghana made me realize how much I needed to make extra income back in USA.

My Ghanaian experience

While in Ghana, my aunt in Togo paid me a visit and we travelled back to Togo to see family. It had been 15 years since I last visited and I felt like a complete stranger in my own country. My aunt and I had gone to the market in Lomé, the capital city of Togo. As we walked through the market, all I saw was beautiful African wax prints everywhere. My aunt, being the queen of prints asked me to help select them.

My interest was piqued when my aunt advised that I consider doing something with prints. In need of extra income and knowing the demand for prints in the US would be huge, I considered it. Soon, I was making inquiries in Ghana and during trips to Togo on bags and accessories with African prints.

Carmen Attikossie

Breaking through the business world

A young woman I met at the University of Ghana, Legon where I was staying, showed me some bags that I liked. Originally, I was going to just buy bags and sell them in the USA but I didn’t like some of the ones I saw. This led me to start sketching my own designs and jotting down ideas of what I’d like. Though I had no background in design and could barely draw to save my life, I was willing to try.

When my time in Ghana came to an end, I had used all the money I earned to start Cartik. With $2.85 to my name and no books for the coming semester, I returned to the USA with 30 bags and some jewelry. It was an audacious move but I told myself even if I failed, at least I tried.

Within two months, I had sold everything and even needed to get more products. I went from ordering 30 to 60, then 200 bags. I was running Cartik’s operations from my dorm on campus with the help of my aunt and cousins in Ghana and Togo.

cartik model

Growing Cartik

I started getting invited to events to showcase my products as everyone on my campus and even local colleges around the city in St. Paul and Minneapolis knew about my business.

In my last year in college, a friend invited me to her economic development class. As I listened to a professor speak about economic development in developing countries, I realized how everything spoken about came naturally to me.

I decided that very moment, what I wanted to do with my brand. I was going to grow Cartik into an ethical fashion and social entrepreneurship brand that works with artisans in Togo and Ghana. I was going to fuse my knowledge as an international relations major into my business.

Although it’s been 2 years since we started, I still consider Cartik a startup. We’ve done many local fashion shows in Minneapolis and more recently, we did something for RAW in Phoenix, Arizona. RAW is an international artist coalition group that serves as a platform for designers, musicians, etc.

I truly believe I have started a brand with the potential to make a huge impact in Africa.

The future?

In the future, I hope to expand into producing my own African textiles, provide education and development for women and children. Also, I would love to go into cosmetics, agriculture, and start a foundation to mentor young individuals wanting to start a business.

Of course, I am trying to create an altruistic brand that will stimulate economic development and prosperity. I want to create jobs and opportunities for people in Togo, Ghana and other parts of the African continent.