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Dec 18

Welcome

We have missed our dedicated readers and we are so excited to connect again. We are back to complement and enrich your information and learning interests.

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Toyin Wura Oke

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief

Rania Odaymat, The Jewelry Artist, 2008

In my journey through life so far, I have met a lot of people from diverse cultures, origins and backgrounds, but I must confess, Rania is of different specie! She is Lebanese and African at heart, this is evident in her passion for Africa art. She digs deep into the roots of culture to exhume elements, which she combines with modern aesthetics to produce the best of African art

– Toyin W. Oke

 Rania

Designing Jewelry from passion, imagination, and innovation, has brought Rania into a strong bond with nature, beads, and precious stones. She stops at nothing to create pieces of art that are so special and unique; beautifying women from all over the world, she goes as far into Asia, Europe, Africa, and beyond, in search for rare pieces to set her works apart.

Did you grow up in Accra?

Yes, I grew up and was educated in Accra, but left in 1989 and returned in 1997. During which time, I attended the Saint Joseph University in Beirut, where I studied languages with a specialization in translations, and then came back to Accra. This is home; this is where I live, where my family has been for generations now.

How did you arrive at Jewelry Art as a Buisness?

 In school, I was in a totally different line, but the urge to study arts has always been there. So I learnt it by going to shows, exhibitions, through books and other mediums. I was always following the trends in arts and learning more and more. The truth is, I had wanted to be an artist, but at that time for several reasons I could not. So I chose to study languages and translations because of my love for languages and knowledge.  When I came back to Ghana, I spent three years training in fine arts with a famous Ghanaian painter, and during those years, I was intensively trained in everything that had to do with painting, drawing, drawing, and using different entertaining media.

The history of adornment had always been intriguing to me…why do people wear cloths? Why do people wear ornaments?  What do they try to express?  How does it affect them and their lives?

So, I was studying all of that at the same time; at a point I became really dissatisfied with the accessories that I found in the market because they didn’t tell me any story; there was no depth in them. They were in fashion today, out of fashion tomorrow. People just made them to make money. But that has not always been the story of accessories. I therefore wanted to do something else. As a result, I started attending bead fairs and learnt a lot about beads here in Ghana.  Just for fun, I started using all the techniques and contacts that I learnt in painting, and researching the symbolism and the history of the beads with a view to coming up with a whole new concept in bead making. In the beginning when I wore them, people kept asking me ‘where did you get that’ and I tell them ‘I made it myself.’ People started signifying interest, but I did not want to sell initially. Sometimes I would make some for friends as gifts and the requests kept increasing.

At a point, I wanted to go into business so I decided to do that which I have a passion for, beads.  I would take a local Ghanaian legend and present the elements of the legends or local stories. Sometimes, it would be something I read in a book about perception that I would try to interpret.  

When I started, I didn’t have any money on my own, it was my husband who is a businessman here in Ghana who helped me. Knowing and believing that I have to depend on myself on the long run, I didn’t want to ask him for a big loan. I just needed a bit of help and a little push. So he gave me $2,000 and with that, I bought all the tools, threads and beads, though I had a collection of beads I had gathered over time. With that amount, I started working, and along the line, for every bead sold, the money is ploughed back into the business. Up until now, I have not taken any profit out of it.  

So you just let it grow?

I simply let it grow!

I make specific and exclusive designs for clients. In doing this, I interview the person, study the way she walks, the way she talks, her character, ask her many questions about herself, like her favorite colours, and her educational background. Armed with these facts, I then find appropriate beads that will fit her personality. After selecting these beads, I try to identify a context within which I can put all of the beads into consideration and then create a necklace that is made specifically for the person; a necklace that will give her the best possible feeling.

What categories of people patronize you most?

Well, the market in Ghana is not very big as such, most if not all of my clients are foreigners with love for arts; people who appreciate the time and effort that goes into making a piece.  

You seem highly innovative. Do you have people working with you work alone?

Initially, I used to do all the work alone, because like I said, I started very small and could not afford to pay anybody to help me, so making one necklace took a lot longer. But then, at one point I was struck because, if I was to wait to sell one or two pieces a year or one or two pieces every six months, I needed to do something extra to buy more beads. There was an exhibition in London, someone needed to take necklaces along, and also some people in Ghana who took my pieces with them as they travelled. These did not take so much time, materials, and planning.  

At some point, I really needed somebody to help me with the secondary issues. Of course, I handle the primary issues, that is, the making of the necklace itself. I have to be on top of every single element in the necklace making process.

Are your pieces expensive?

My prices reflect the enormous resources that go into producing these things.  To a number of people, it is very expensive but I know the value of what I do. I know how many years it took and how many years it takes it terms of research to do something like this. If I lower the prices, what sense does it make?  Truth is my beads are not ordinary, if I lower the prices, it would amount to a loss. I don’t want to take stuff that don’t mean anything into the market.  If I can’t get people to buy my pieces because of the price, I just do them for the passion and pleasure hoping that someday some persons will come along appreciating the efforts that have gone into making them.

The future

I don’t always think of the future, but I hope for the best and know that if you do things from the heart you will get somewhere someday.  For me, I just think there is something I need to do, and I do it to the best of my ability. Anytime I do face something new, it is a new challenge, and I want to do the best that I can.  With such a philosophy, you will get results sooner than later. I hope that the future is going to be bright.

Culled from The Archive - The Street Hawker Entrepreneur May 2008 Edition

The Future indeed became bright for Rania, today, she is an artist, stylist & Curator...We hope to catch up with her again...

 

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