Joyce Ababio, President and Founder of Joyce Ababio College of Creative Design.
Accra, the capital and largest city of Ghana, is one of the most important cities in West Africa. With a population of well over two million in the city proper, and a total of four million in the extending metropolitan area, the coastal city is an important player in the region’s economic and cultural tapestry. Accra is a true coastal city, with Atlantic beaches, coastal tableaus, large commercial ports, and city streets melding to form miles of unique waterfront.
Accra is a city that has been growing quickly in recent years, largely due to immigration from the Americas, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere in Africa. Its economy is diverse, and consists of manufacturing, marketing, finance, insurance, transportation, and plenty of tourism and retail. The city is ever growing outward, with new communities and shanty-towns popping up regularly. The city’s core, however, is well established, and home to such globally recognized cultural and arts institutions as the National Theater of Ghana, the W.E.B. Du Bois Centre, Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum, the National Museum of Ghana, and more.
With such artistic and cultural vitality, and a multicultural population that comes from all over the world, Accra is a melting pot of ideas and sensibilities. Like much of Africa, the folk-art tradition is well-established in Ghana, but the commercial art tradition is relatively young. Accra has a deep well of talent to draw from, however, and education is an indispensable facet of developing the artists and artisans of tomorrow. That’s why the Joyce Ababio College of Creative Design (JACCD) is such an important part of the city’s bid to become a truly global brand of creativity.
Commercial and professional art is an essential part of any growing economy due to the integral role it plays in advertising and product creation. The Joyce Ababio College of Creative Design contributes to future designers’ and creative directors’ development by offering multiple levels of study in both Fashion Design and Graphic Design. These include one-year certificates in both fields, and an additional two-year diploma and four-year Bachelor’s degree option in Fashion Design. A new addition to the school’s academic offerings is a Textile Design certificate.
The College is located in the Cantonments neighborhood of Accra, a traditionally affluent area abutting the Ghanaian state government that features large single-family homes and many of the foreign embassies to Ghana, including that of the United States.
The motto of JACCD is “Step Inside; Think Outside,” a perfect encapsulation of the process that students are encouraged to go through. Not only are students trained in techniques and the mastery of their tools, whether it be software programs, looms, or a pair of scissors, but they are also prompted to think creatively and to take risks with their work. They’re invited to pull inspiration from outside the classroom, bringing in Accra’s global perspective into the commercial arts. Those pursuing Bachelor’s degrees follow a program that combines the holistic educational approach of a liberal arts college with the rigor and practice of an art school degree.
So far, students from the College have been proving the wisdom in the college’s educational techniques. Over the past 20 years, JACCD has produced a number of successful and award-winning fashion designers, including the likes of Christie Brown, PISTIS, B’Venaj, Barkers-Woode, and many others. Students from Joyce Ababio College of Creative Design in Accra, Ghana.
The College’s founder, the decorated and celebrated Ghanaian fashion designer Joyce Ababio, still serves as the President of the University, and helps to mentor students and draw visiting lecturers from the world of fashion for master classes and workshops. Ababio is a groundbreaking designer in her own right, but her experience of getting started was difficult. In order to gain approval to travel to a University in the United States, she was forced to begin studying something other than fashion, even though that was her original goal all along.
Later in life, as her profile increased in Ghana, she realized that there was a demand from people who wanted to learn from her. She began teaching at a small groups at first. Five students, then twelve, and as demand picked up, the need to build a lasting institution became apparent. Her goal, to provide the opportunity for talented young people to remain in Ghana and receive world class training has largely been realized, but growth and improvement remains a constant goal.
Quality is immensely important in both the school’s mission and its artistic philosophy. Students are encouraged to take their time in learning their craft, and quality is always prioritized over quantity in the production of pieces and garments. JACCD also gives back to its community by its food and clothing drives for area orphanages, and also by inviting women from impoverished communities in Northern Ghana to study for a year, gaining the ability to design and create their own clothing from scratch, giving them the opportunity to gain employment or go into business for themselves.
With its growing reputation, and the constantly shifting attitudes towards fashion design from Africa, Accra stands to gain recognition as a source of design talent both regionally and internationally. The importance of the Joyce Ababio College of Creative Design is difficult to understate, and it stands to reason that the college will begin to draw international acclaim. With a commitment to quality in not only education, but in organizational techniques, JACCD will be an important part of Accra’s future for years to come.
ABOUT BID AND THE CENTURY INTERNATIONAL QUALITY ERA AWARD:
BID is a private and independent organization founded in 1984, whose primary activity is business communication orientated towards quality, excellence and innovation in management. A leader in the broadcasting of Quality Culture, BID recognizes those companies and organizations which lead the most important activities in the business world, and is considered the founding organization in the broadcasting of the Culture of Quality, Excellence and Innovation in 179 countries. The trophy symbolizes a pledge to the principles of Quality Culture. The QC100 Total Quality Management Model, together with the Quality Mix program, media coverage of the convention and its impact on the community and business sector, create an unmatched platform for continuous improvement within the organization and awareness of the achievements of the company at an international level. Awards are given only to those who are committed to improving their Quality Culture based on the principles of the QC100 Total Quality Management Model. Candidates are proposed by the leaders of previously awarded companies who they consider worthy of the award. Especially meritorious candidates may also be nominated. The International BID Quality Award Selection Committee then chooses the winning companies who will receive the award in New York, Paris, Geneva, Frankfurt, Madrid and London.