Talented, Creative and a real beauty, Lily Quagraine left her career in insurance to start her business- Nhyira’s Collections (Making and selling hand-crafted and elegant African jewelry) with no prior experience in jewelry making. Driven by pure passion and a God-given dream, Nhyira Collections is now a leading producer of beautiful and unique African jewelry and accessories. We spoke with her to learn about her journey.
My name is Lily Nhyira Quagraine from Cape Coast, Central Region. Born in Accra and happen to be the Forth girl of my Parents. I completed Mfanstiman Girl’s Secondary school where I pursued Visual Arts. After Mfanstiman Girl’s I had the opportunity to learn Floristry and Balloon Decor from Cakes and Flowers – Achimota. I was offered admission at the Central University College, Mataheko where I read BSc Admin Option Marketing after which I was offered an internship program with Lordship Insurance Brokers Dzorwulu and then I moved on to do my National Service at Enterprise Insurance Company on the High Street. After Service I got a recommendation to work as a PA to the Head of Legal Services for Enterprise Group Limited.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO LEAVE YOUR POSITION IN INSURANCE TO START JEWELRY MAKING?
My Boss passed away and this affected me very much. She had always encouraged and mentored me and I found myself struggling to recover after her demise. Going to work became difficult. Coupled with that, I faced a couple of challenges in the workplace so decided to resign.
Before that, I had had a dream one night where I was fixing a bead necklace I had bought from Osu the previous year. When I woke up the next morning, I took the necklace and examined how it was fixed. I then took everything apart and tried re-fixing. It worked! I was able to re-fix it. I tried that with other neck pieces and I was able to do them all without a struggle. I realized I had a gift and decided to explore it.
PURSUING THE DREAM
I began buying the materials needed to create necklaces and neck pieces. I didn’t even know the names for some of them so I will just go to the market and point them out. In my mind, I knew what I was going to use them for and that was what mattered. I learned more about the tools I needed and their names by using google and that’s how I started creating my own pieces.
HOW ABOUT OFFICIAL TRAINING?
I had no official training in jewelry making whatsoever. I called a few people and even picked up forms but I never attended any of them. One time, I found a lady who was willing to teach me the art of jewelry making for a fee of GHC 1,000.00. I told my dad and he gave me the money to pay up so I could have the training, but the following day, I changed my route to visit Grandma and all she said was start small and it will be well. I abandoned the training and decided to take her advice.
EARLY DAYS OF NHYIRA’s COLLECTIONS
My family was very supportive of my decision. My mum and my brother told me that I shouldn’t give up I should try harder and that everything I set my mind to do will succeed. Armed with this encouragement, my passion and the grace of God, I started Nhyira’s Collections.
I like music a lot so sometimes while worshipping through music I see some of the designs and then I sketch them, sometimes through dreams but majority through worship.
The first 50 pieces I did, I gave them all out as gift’s, some to people who have gone ahead in life with regards to their walk with God – ( Pastor’s Wives etc.) so they prayed and encouraged me. I also gave some to my friends and neighbors who then gave me good feedback and recommendations. This kept me going. Eventually, I began getting contracts both within and outside Ghana. I knew some of my designs were purely by divine inspiration because I could not even explain how I came up with them neither could I replicate them.
PARTNERSHIPS AND MARKETING
With time, I met Ayisi Photography who has also played a huge role in my success story today. He encouraged me and supported me with pictures of my work. I provided neck pieces for him anytime he was shooting portraits and he took great shots of my work for marketing purposes.
My main channel for marketing so far has been my Facebook and Instagram accounts where I share my works and through that, I get more clients. Recommendations and referrals form family, friends and satisfied clients have also been a huge help. I do however have future plans to use other channels of marketing.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE FOR NHYIRA?
God willing, I am working on creating new Collections for 2018. The team is also planning on crossing the borders of Ghana. We are currently selling in Nigeria but we are trusting God and working hard to add more countries to our delivery List. We currently have just the Online store but we want to set up a Physical shop for our clients to walk in, browse through and patronize our products.
We also plan on doing something new for our Social Media Marketing. For myself, I am planning on taking a few courses to make myself more efficient and also expand my scope. I have done events management program and looking to add more knowledge and skills to grow the business.
CAN’T DO WITHOUT GOD
I have to say in conclusion that I have come this far only by the Grace of God. You know, sometimes we fight for the things that are not ours. We always want to get things that don’t belong to irrespective of God’s will. But in my case, I have learned to let go and let God take charge. I have had a lot of tough times but by allowing God to lead, He has guided me to a more pleasant place. You can’t do without God.