Most social media followers got to know her for her stunning headpieces for the Second Lady of Ghana, Mrs Samira Bawumia to complement her gorgeous outfits for Ghana’s Independence celebration.
But Abena Hatboxco is more than just making 3D percher hats for a political figure, she brings art to life through the creation of unique bespoke headpieces for the modern-day woman regardless of her destination in the world. Read this Wonder Woman’s Story below.
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In 2010, Abena Boatemaah was a young Masters degree student at the University of Leicester pursuing her MSC in Management shortly after completing her mandate National Service at SSNIT.
The post-graduate degree was part of her resolute career plans for her ascension on the corporate ladder. After the successful completion of her course, she stayed in the United Kingdom and trained with ‘The Milliner’s Millner’, Rose Cory, a decision that will change the course of her life.
“That single decision to train with Rose was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because shortly after I got married, quit my job to start a family and switch career paths,” she confesses.
Boatemaah grew up surrounded with the love for the Ascot, Millinery and arts which was further heightened by the constant display of hats, horses and high society in the magazines and TV shows she watched.
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She toyed with the idea of making hats for many years but in 2013 she finally braved it out and launched the Hat Box Company popularly known by their social media moniker as @Hatboxco.
“I started professional millinery in 2013 before that I combined it with my work in the corporate space along with family life and i found it quite tedious so something had to give,” she recalls.
For Mrs Abena Boatemaah Duffuor, turning her hobby into a fully-fledged career and business is her biggest accomplishment which has also given her the forum to share her talent with the world.
Most social media followers knew her for her stunning headpieces for the Second Lady of Ghana, Mrs Samira Bawumia to complement her gorgeous outfits for Ghana’s Independence celebration. But Hatboxco is more than just making 3D percher hats for a political figure, she brings art to life through the creation of unique bespoke headpieces for the modern-day woman regardless of her destination in the world.
“We’ve been able to carve a successful reputation as Ghana’s number 1 millinery company creating hats for a diverse array of women to complement their overall ensemble for multiple occasions,” a very humble Abena responds when we question her about the journey so far.
But the journey hasn’t been a walk in the park especially here in Ghana. Generally, millinery and hat-wearing as a fashion statement among Ghanaian women is fairly new business despite British colonial influence even among the elite and high societies.
Images of Ghanaian first ladies and prominent female figures that are available show them in beautiful head wraps or other coverings attending functions.
Mrs Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, who is credited as the woman who revolutionized the office of the First Lady and the founder of the 31st December Women’s Movement flirted with berets and more headwraps leaving out the artisanal made pieces.
“When I first started, there was little or next to no appreciation of the craft of millinery with just a few names in the industry and most Ghanaians were patronising the already made hats from China which were sold in Makola,” she bemoans.
The Kumerican born, Abena and her team have reversed this trend by successfully making hat-wearing fun and exciting for her clients who range from wives of prominent Government leaders to ministers, celebrities and beautiful young brides.
These days hat-wearing has become a family ritual amongst the female members especially during weddings. Mothers of the bride opt for elaborate headpieces and daughter pick the bridal headpieces embellished with stones, crystals and precious minerals.
Collaborations and campaigns with several leading names in the fashion and beauty industry including Pistis Ghana, Contours By Valerie Lawson and Let’s Be Seated have also earned her a place in the hearts of many.
“When I began, I was privileged to work with two women who were also part of my bridal vendors on my wedding day; Sumaiya of Pistis and Valerie Lawson of CVL makeup, they didn’t just treat my headpieces as a throw-on but an essential accessory that tied the full look together, Abena tells Braperucci.Africa
Her philosophy for creating is based on a mutually beneficial collaboration between the client and herself; where the ideal client believes in her skill and allows her the space to create something exciting based on the available tools.
It, therefore, didn’t come as a surprise when she was commissioned by Pistis to craft a stunning golden hallow headpiece to complement a kente gown for Pistis Ghana’s opening at the banquet and fashion show in honour of Prince Charles and Camilla during their visit to Ghana.
The House of Cornwall impressed by the craftsmanship shared the image of the look as part of their documentary of the show on Instagram. She describes the moment as “fulfilling and humbling at the same time”
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From small beginnings to a fully-fledged business with a recently launched website to cater for her teeming clients, Abena has had the opportunity to stock with Lagos-based fashion retailer, Temple Muse and exports her bespoke pieces to clients in the U.S, UK, Europe, Australia and several African countries.
Her designs are also constantly featured on the pages of print and digital publications such as Daily Mail, Agoo Magazine, Brides.com, Radiance Brides, Bellanaija Weddings and I Do Ghana.
Mrs Samira Bawumia, Second Lady of Ghana, Nana Krobea Asante, Adontehne of Kwahu Mpraeso & C.E.O of Azmera Restaurant, Bozoma St.John, Nicole Ari Parker, Menaye Donkor, and a slew of ministers of states, celebrities and brides can all boast of a one-of-a-kind Hatbox headpiece in their closet.
Radiance Bridal Fair, Royal Ascot, Royal Wedding Viewing Party at the British High Commission in Ghana are a few of the notable platforms that have featured the brand’s iconic hat designs.
The new website plans to be a hub and a platform to communicate, market and engage with her audience especially in the post-pandemic era who will need a hat or headpiece for an occasion.
“Our studio is closed to the public due to the pandemic and we cannot cut them off completely so we have created a fully functional website and a booking system to consult with clients to make the very headpiece for every individual,” Head of Web Design and Marketing, Koku Esebe explained.
Abena who meets her client via Instagram calls or FaceTime says the likes of Rachel Trevor-Morgan, the Queen’s official milliner and Philip Tracey have influenced her creativity and craftsmanship over the years.
To update her knowledge in the millinery trade she’s constantly taking classes with key millinery instructors in the United Kingdom.
“COVID has wrecked a lot of havoc because I should be in the U.K currently taking up new courses but I have had to postpone for safety reasons,” she said
But the pandemic has also brought out her other passion, baking when she is not making iconic hats, she loves to bake and runs a bakery brand, BakeeBox, a playful blend of Bake and her company moniker.
“My hands are quite full; from taking care of my family. I am blessed with an adorable husband and three charming kids plus two full-time jobs. I must say I am thankful and I wouldn’t have it any other way” she says. “If you want to know what my superpower is I think that is balancing it all and if that makes me a Wonderwoman I say bring it on.