"We began with only two local artisans and worked in the shade of a mango tree."
Update (February, 2020)
Audrey transforms wood into the most beautiful furniture pieces that are inspired by the culture and heritage of Africa. Having been exposed to art at a very young age, she explored painting, drawing, cartooning, fashion design, clay molding, etc., but went on to pursue a bachelor's degree in psychology at the University of Ghana. She later returned to work at Tekura (a family-owned furniture and décor company) and found herself once again in an "art" environment. She has worked with remarkable designers like Cheik Diallo from Mali and Hamed Ouattara from Burkina Faso; and she plans to revolutionize design in Ghana.
“My goal is to use my work to rebrand Africa, and create a positive perception of our beautiful continent that will inspire young Africans.”
Original Artisan Story
"For almost ten years, I worked with Aid to Artisans Ghana (ATAG). During this time, I developed an interest in handicraft and a great desire to assist artisans. With my husband, E. Kweku Forson, I organized a group to do this. He worked with the Ghana Red Cross Society and, in the places where he was sent, we had ample opportunity to come in contact with handicrafts.
"In October of 2000, I resigned my job with ATAG so as to nurture our project while Kweku remained with the Red Cross and provided backup support. We began with only two local artisans and worked in the shade of a mango tree. We also connected with artisans out of town. But supervising and monitoring distant locations was a challenge so we built a safe workplace where all the work could be done.
"In 2003, my husband joined us full time and we decided to include new designs while adding value to the traditional wood sculptures and masks. By 2009, we were successfully crafting and shipping baskets but then decided to limit our work to art types with locally sourced materials developed by artisans in our community.
"Stocking materials wasn't always easy, and we're now obtaining wood from Ghana's Forest Research Institute and the Ghanaian Forestry Commission. Our basic materials are waste wood products (off-cuts and dead wood) and recycled metals. Getting orders is sometimes a challenge.
"It's so satisfying to help improve the lifestyle of people in our community by creating job opportunities. We donate wood chips to be used as fuel by local food vendors and also an orphanage. We teach valuable new skills to people with no formal education.
"Our lives have been impacted through this work. It has provided the opportunity to help others earn their living. It has helped us educate our own children and it has provided us with a home.
"Our mission is to train more than 500 artisans in two craft villages, and to explore and use more sustainable local materials for crafting. Our designs have been exhibited in Frankfurt, Germany, and we are proud to have won the Africa Growth Institute of South Africa's Trade Sector Award in 2008."