Elle Lokko is an appealing, concept store situated in the scenic Lokko Road in downtown Osu-Accra with outfits and accessories from a number of designers like Iamisigo, Raffia Ghana and Monaa among many others. The Owner, Stefania Manfreda is an incredible and good-natured young lady. She is of a Ghanaian-Italian descent. The shop is dedicated to cater for the needs of the modern day woman as well as promoting exclusive made in Africa brands by Young creatives and entrepreneurs.
Elle Lokko is all about fashion. Lifestyle. Beauty. Art. Culture and Design.
- TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF
I’m Stefania. I’m a Creative hence a curious, passionate and sensitive human being. A Designer/Curator to identify me professionally. I currently work in fashion retail, visual design & communication and furniture design. I curate events, exhibitions and experiences that revolve around these and other fields of interest such as contemporary Ghanaian art, music and urban culture.
I tend to work and leisure in as many of these areas of interest as it is I have. Believe me when I say there’s quite a few of them! Overall though it’s just my way of observing life and creative expressions. Sure, science does its part, but I think creatives are better able to express in much simpler and accurate terms whilst also taking into account the element of emotion.
Through brands I created such as Elle Lokko, Lokko’08, The Warehouse and The Container, we work and play with these concepts in a contemporary Ghanaian urban context and hope to contribute to the development of creatives here and in other areas.
- HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THIS BUSINESS
Since 2008 here in Ghana running Lokko’08 Concept Store and then Elle Lokko Concept Store since 2015. Before that I worked as Art Director of an ad agency in Lecce-Italy for 3 years working specifically with small/medium businesses in fashion. That experience enabled me to fully understand and appreciate the marketing and promotional aspect of the business, which is not to be underestimated.
- HOW ARE GHANAIANS RESPONDING TO THE WHOLE IDEA OF A CONCEPT STORE.
I remember when we first opened back in 2008 with Lokko’08, the first thing people would say when they visited was they felt like they were abroad, in some shop in a western country probably as seen in a movie or something. It was interesting to me. Even though there was this excitement to see something new and pioneering for Accra at the time, there was also a very obvious attraction towards the concept of the store simply because it took into consideration all that is special to Ghanaians and spoke a language of local content alone.
Every item within the store was either recycled from local workshops or made strong references to Ghana’s past both recent and not. This immediately tugged at the heartstrings because it would take you back to your childhood. The response of course was positive and continues to be to date as we have expanded to other areas and to different audiences.
- HOW DID YOU COME ABOUT ELLE LOKKO, WHAT INSPIRED IT?
I had been saying for a while that I needed to do something more feminine for my existing Lokko’08 clientele and that’s how it initially began. Elle Lokko however quickly took on a life of its own and became something very different from just a female version of Lokko’08. The two, in fact, have always operated separately and independently.
Elle Lokko happened as part of a healing process I was going through in a moment of my life in which I had to completely change everything and really come to terms with who I wanted to be. I would say it was inspired by that moment that happens in everyone’s life when you need to be real with yourself and develop self-knowledge and acceptance. Choosing to use your gifts, becoming an adult, I guess, taking responsibility.
I just had the impulse to start one day and I enjoyed it so much (putting the space together) that I just threw my heart into it and did only that for about 2 to 3 months. People would pass by to see how it was coming along and Elle Lokko soon became a peaceful place where interesting conversations could happen. I received a great deal of support from a lot of people that really surprised me in a good way and kept me going.
- AS A WOMAN, WHAT IS YOUR INSPIRATION?
I’ve always had a hard time first of all labelling myself as a woman. Simply because of the many connotations and definitions that it could imply. Even saying the word in my head is awkward sometimes, because it can be said in so many ways to mean so many things. I mean, I am female, and I know that, but the definition of woman… I’ve never yet been comfortable with it so I hardly use it. I am who I am and don’t really look at life in terms of gender that much. People find this weird about me sometimes but that’s how I’m comfortable interacting.
As far as my inspiration goes therefore, gender is still not a defining factor. I am very conscious of the difference in behaviour between the sexes, as well as roles and dynamics and fully appreciate that but I don’t limit my inspiration to be confined to what is considered only inspirational to women. If I understand the question correctly.
Life inspires me, in all its forms. The good, the bad and the ugly. Creation and all its wonders. I always say God is the ultimate designer and creative. I guess He would be my biggest inspiration.
- HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR WORK WITH YOUR PERSONAL LIFE?
For now, it’s all a bit mixed up together so I don’t necessarily ever focus on that. I’m a one-person family unit for now so I am pretty free to decide how to manage my time.
- WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER?
I truly believe it is yet to come so we’ll wait to see what that will be.
- IF YOU ARE GIVEN THE CHANCE TO CHANGE ONE THING IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
In my opinion, we are yet to establish a fashion industry so I don’t know that I would change anything exactly, but I would work towards establishing a strong foundation that would allow such an industry to flourish. Government or private sector institutions should by all means work towards first changing the perception of the general public towards Fashion. People need to be educated on the reality and scale of the global fashion industry and be encouraged to see it as a viable investment opportunity.
- WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR CHALLENGE WORKING IN AFRICA?
There are quite a few difficulties, but there are also lots of situations that are a lot easier to deal with here than they would be anywhere else. I’m feeling optimistic today so I won’t go on a rant.
- YOUR TOP 3 FASHION BRAND IN AFRICA
Tongoro, Duro Olowu, Maki Oh.
- HOW DO YOU GET BRANDS TO STOCK IN SHOP?
Research online, through people I know, fashion events or fairs, some brands approach me themselves.
- WHAT FASHION BRANDS ARE TO WATCHED OUT FOR IN 2017?
Looking forward to what the younger designers like Jermaine Bleu and Hazza will do.
- IF YOU ARE NOT WORKING, WHAT WOULD YOU BE FIND DOING?
Feeding my mind, my stomach or my friendships.
- WHAT WAS IT LIKE, SHOOTING FOR DEBONAIR AFRIK?
Was great fun, Nuel had marked me for a gorgeous gown since I never dress like that and I must say I loved it.
- WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR THE YOUNG WOMEN OUT THERE WHO WANTS TO GET INTO FASHION?
As with all things be very sure that whatever you dedicate your life to do is very much connected to your natural talents. This will bring out the best in you and you will be happier as well. That said, always make sure to do your research first and know about the industry you want to get into. There’s more to working in fashion than just being a fashion designer. There are many opportunities in different aspects of the industry and it’s good to have an idea of how the whole mechanism works.
HOT SEAT QUESTIONS:
- DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN 3 WORDS
Creative, witty and curious
- IF YOU COULD MEET AND HAVE DINNER WITH ANY PERSON WHO EVER LIVED, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY? AND WHAT WOULD YOU ASK THE PERSON?
I don’t think there’s a person in particular I would want to meet and eat with… I kind of like to go with what life throws at me.
- AT WHAT AGE DID YOU HAVE YOUR FIRST KISS?
I think I was 14 or so lol