Magazine article Black Enterprise

African Chic on Display

Magazine article Black Enterprise

African Chic on Display

Article excerpt

Ashanti Origins finds a home in Brooklyn

The flagship store of Ashanti Origins (www.ashantiorigins.com) may be 2,000 square feet in Brooklyn, New York's Fort Greene section, but it's a magical doorway that transports your spirit to a faraway land.

Through its elegant display of African-inspired furniture and housewares, this six-employee enterprise evokes the essence of being in and surrounded by the artistic beauty of modern Africa. That's right, modern Africa, because Ashanti Origins does not sell artifacts or collectibles. It designs, manufactures, and retails housewares with an African essence that are designed to be used in modern homes.

"People want to live in an environment that reflects who they are," says Linda M. Howard, CEO of Ashanti Origins, which generated more than $350,000 in sales last year alone. "Our skilled Ashanti craftsmen make custom furniture consumers can relax in every day and be proud of for years to come. The customers even choose the woods and skins (leather, ostrich, etc.) their furniture is made from."

Howard, a former attorney and graduate from the University of Pennsylvania's School of Law, began Ashanti Origins in 1998 as the U.S. arm of Image Afrika Ltd., an Accra, Ghana-based company that designs and manufactures furniture. Howard's husband, entrepreneur Kwabena R. Smith, operates Image Afrika Ltd. The couple first sold their unique products overseas but formed Ashanti Origins as a separate company to meet the challenge of selling in the States. …

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