South African startup set to influence fashion trends with African handbag range

Two business partners in South Africa started an African inspired handbag range known as Ekasi Bags in Cape Town in 2014. Two years later, the bags are being sought after by a number of clients looking for fashionable African accessories both locally and in parts of the world

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (REUTERS) – The Pan African market located on Long Street in South Africa’s coastal city Cape Town, offers a range of African art, crafts and heritage with over 30 stalls and shops that sell various souvenirs and crafts from parts of Africa.

It is here you will find, Abass Maazu and Thuleka Duze marketing their handmade African print bags in a tiny shop.

ATG Ekasi Handbags come in bright and bold coloured African fabric, mostly sourced from Ghana, the fabric is usually combined with others like South Africa’s isishweshwe cloth that’s traditionally worn by the Xhosa community.

The pair first met when Abass, a Ghanaian was working as tailor, making alterations on clothes for residents in Gugulethu, a township in the city.

Thuleka who is from South Africa was working as a cabin crew attendant at the time. The two forged a relationship that saw them later form the businesss to help clients accessorize their outfits with African inspired bags.

“We put all the fabric together, fabric from Ghana, Nigeria, Congo, South Africa all over East Africa etcetera, etcetera we put it together then we design our bag and the bag is for all occasions, whatever you wear you don’t even need to chose another colour because almost every bag suits whatever you wear,” said Abass Maazu Co-Founder Of ATG Ekasi Handbags.

The business was started in 2014 with help from SEDA or Small Business Development Agency, which provides non-financial support to small cooperatives and enterprises in the country and links them to global partners.

The African market usually links migrants together who like to frequent the popular meeting place, as well as tourists looking for souvenirs, making it an ideal location for Ekasi.

The fashionable bags have grown popular in the country over the years and also continue to draw interest among many visitors. Ekasi bags now sell as far away as Spain and Croatia.

The businesses partners say it has been a learning experience and that they are now working with new materials to accentuate their bags like beads, springbok hide and ostrich skin.

“We have started here in Cape Town, now we are getting calls from people in Kwa-Zulu Natal from Gauteng, they want us to supply them with our bags ,from there where we are going to we want to see our name in the big streets of New York and London, that’s where we want to be we want to take this African print handbag business globally ,not just locally,” said Thuleka Duze co-founder of Ekasi.

The duo say they see the business potential of their bags and are currently working on plans to find more partners who can help them break into more markets abroad and help expand their business further.