While working in Ghana’s aid and development sector, YEVU clothing founder Anna Robertson noticed two things. The first is that women dominate the country’s informal sector, making up to 70 percent of workers in an industry that is typically characterized by unsafe and precarious employment with low wages. She also discovered an undeniable local skill set for manufacturing bespoke clothing.
Wanting to find a way to leverage those skills and offer sustainable, full-time jobs that pay a living wage to women, Robertson founded YEVU—a fashion brand dedicated to showcasing bright and bold wax prints from West Africa, and supporting the women who make them. YEVU’s production and campaign process is coordinated through Dropbox, the digital home base for their team of 30 spread out across Ghana and Robertson's home of Sydney, Australia.
YEVU’s production process starts at the wholesale market in Accra, Ghana, where their head of procurement takes photos of prints with a cell phone, and shares those images in a Dropbox folder with the management team. “We communicate entirely with our team in Ghana on our mobile phones. It's just an easier way to stay in touch when people are out at the markets and in the workshop,” says Robertson. Once their print selections have been made, orders are placed with vendors, the prints are collected, and the fabrics are delivered to the team of women who run YEVU’s workshop in Ghana.
Digital clothing patterns, which are made and designed in Sydney, are sent to the team in Ghana through another Dropbox folder. The patterns are printed at an industrial level, and production kicks off. “It’s all systems go for the next six to eight weeks,” says Robertson.
Once the clothing is made, the team in Ghana shoots an e-commerce campaign. “Executing our campaigns there lets us showcase the clothing in a West African context with amazing art direction,” says Robertson. Much like the production process, campaign photos are shared by the photographers with Dropbox folders and approved by the team in Sydney before they go live.
YEVU now produces nearly 9,000 garments a year, with large fan bases in both Sydney and Ghana. “Australia and Ghana share a positive, sunny, outdoor vibe. This link, in my mind, lead me to believe that the Ghanaian prints and textiles would fit in well in Australia,” says Robertson. She was right: “The day the first pop-up opened up in Sydney, there was a line out the door. Everyone loved the story. Everyone loved the colors. It was something different and exciting from an ethical standpoint as well.”