Updated: Aug 20
Hand-made from Ghana, Hamilton clothing label BATIK BOUTIK is committed to creating ethical and sustainable fashion.
Maya Amoah is the creator of Hamilton fashion label BATIK BOUTIK. The African-style prints are available in shirts, pants, jumpsuits, jackets, accessories, and more. Hand-made in Ghana, Amoah found her inspiration for the brand back in 2017.
"I started BATIK BOUTIK when I was on a trip to Ghana with my family in May of 2017," said Amoah. "My grandmother lived there and we stayed at her home for two months. I'll never forget the day when I was walking down the red clay road in the Ghanaian countryside, and passing by a workshop of tailors. I asked my dad, "What if I started a clothing line?""
Amoah wanted to introduce African styles and prints to Canadian fashion.
"It was born out of a love for fashion, and a desire to connect African prints and patterns to the rest of the world, via clothing with a contemporary style and boast African flavor," said Amoah. "I felt like it was hard to come by items that fit my fashion taste with these beautiful prints. They were often on the more formal or traditional side of things."
The designer's style is instinctual.
"My style is not very consistent," said Amoah. "The first word that comes to my head is intuitive. I just pick my wardrobe by instinct and it's usually from second-hand shops. But of course I love colour! I like to incorporate bold prints into most of my outfits, best complemented with neutral tones. Recently, I've taken a liking to white pants, overalls, etc., and that's been really cool to use with some of these styles. But generally comfortable, flowy, over-sized clothing is very much me. Pants need to be comfortable, and dresses baggy!"
Amoah prioritizes that her clothing be made ethically and sustainably, that includes making sure that all employees are being paid a fair wage.
"I'd say the vision and message are mostly the same as they've always been- all clothing should be ethically made and sustainable when possible," said Amoah. "Paying employees livable wages doesn't need to be applauded, it should just be the norm."
Amoah hopes that by growing her brand, she's aiding in the debunking of African stereotypes.
"Africa is the future," said Amoah. "There are so many great things coming out of this continent, and it's time we debunk stereotypes of Africa and its people. As my brand grows, I hope to contribute to this changing narrative and find ways to cultivate lasting impact in communities."
Like the beginnings of any company, BATIK BOUTIK went through some major rough patches, but the fashion label has come a long way.
"There have been lots of ups and downs throughout this journey," said Amoah. "Lowest points would include selling very little at markets or festivals with expensive vendor costs, but then highest points probably include right now where I'm starting to get a solid grasp on e-commerce and observing the fruits of some of that labour. Starting was easy because I didn't know how seriously I wanted to take this. The harder part came months later when I realized, yes, I wanted to try and make a living from it."
Amoah's dream didn't come to fruition for quite some time.
"I worked many many hours at many many jobs to afford the first collection," said Amoah. "Everything from telemarketing, waitressing, food sampling, door-to-door canvassing- and all at once too! So once I had the money and was able to afford the inventory, I was able to start selling at markets and get my name out there. I'm in school so it is hard to focus both on schoolwork and the brand, but I'm planning ways to manage the workload this year. It's not easy! It's a lot of hours spent on sometimes menial tasks that just need to get done, as it's just me running this thing. However, I'd take this over working for someone else any day!"
Amoah can't wait to return to the festivals that supported her throughout her journey.
"I really can't choose one favourite festival because I love them for different things," said Amoah. "I really miss the Kensington market Pedestrian Sundays and its cool, laid-back bohemian vibe. I also love selling at Montreal festivals because I love that city and I get a chance to speak French, which is a language I'm continuing to work on. Supercrawl has to be one of my favourites though: there's nothing better than coming back to my city in September to be met with so many familiar faces and a cozy, welcoming vibe of the Hamilton arts scene. I'm always so blown away by the numbers of people that all come down to the Hammer for a weekend. My best sales actually from that festival too, it's definitely from all the local support."
For now, BATIK BOUTIK will remain a virtual store.
"At the moment, I'm sticking to being purely online and hopefully selling at some festivals in the future when the time is right," said Amoah. "But I'm enjoying the online platform for now, as it's a medium that I haven't had a chance to focus and work on enough. It's really nice to be able to work from home. I don't really have any plans to open a storefront as I ultimately would love to travel and keep my business relatively mobile. I will be selling in some stores soon though, so expanding a list of stockists is a dream on the horizon."
Amoah hopes to use her platform to fund further education and entrepreneurship in Ghana.
"My goals include creating valuable partnerships with like-minded people," said Amoah. "I also want to use my power and privilege of growing up here in Canada to create and help develop tools and spaces that encourage entrepreneurship in Ghana and put the African continent on the map of commerce. The ambition and drive of Ghanaians are already there, just want to use my platform to create or fund initiatives that help hone those different skills and provide people, especially the youth, with the same technological tools we take for granted in the West."
Discover more about BATIK BOUTIK and Amoah's available designs on the website linked below.