Handcrafted crochet handbags in West Africa
"My favorite part of crafting bags is the weaving and crocheting.""I'm Mariama Bukari. I was born on November 22, 1984 in the Greater Accra region of Ghana.
"My friends describe me as creative, innovative, determined and a loyal person. My goal in life is to help people in the society especially the needy and my dream is to achieve what is expected of me.
"After my national service, I was at home and unemployed. It was so boring. I decide to play around crocheting to keep myself a little busy, at least. I started making baby shoes but I didn't like it so I began making baby clothes. Then I decided to crochet phone cases. Finally, I settled on crafting handbags.
"The first purse I crocheted didn't look nice enough for me so I practiced until I got it right. I try each different style around three times to master it.
"No one taught me this craft — I created my designs on my own. When I showed my handbags to my friends and family, they loved them.
"I use cords and beads, which I buy from the market. I find them easy to work with. My favorite part of crafting bags is the weaving and crocheting. The finishing, though, can be challenging. Starting on my own was difficult at first.
"Once, I worked at a security company. There were some 150 people on the staff and they were all men. I was the only lady among them! That felt awkward.
"Another time, I went to work with a wig cap on because that was the only option I had that day. It was an old type of wig. My colleagues made fun of me the whole day. They laughed at me and talked about it for a whole week. Even though it was embarrassing, it was fun because I laughed with them.
"My inspiration in life and work comes from my mother, my godmother, a dear church sister and from a very good friend."