Send Emergency Supplies to Shelters this Kitten Season

NOVICA Artisan Cynthia Danquah

Cynthia Danquah

Shop all Cynthia Danquah products

I am an Akuapim woman from Aburi, one of the most beautiful places in Ghana. We have a great landscape rich with plant life and we're known for one of the finest wood markets. I love this town and I've lived here for most of my life.

I had a pleasant childhood until age 12, when my father passed. Life as I knew it changed and became difficult. My mother, at the time a homemaker, was suddenly the sole breadwinner and provider of eight children with no steady income. In spite of the difficulties faced, I was able to successfully complete junior and senior high school through hard work and determination. After senior high school, I held different jobs with the aim of earning a living until I got married in 2008.

"My husband is Eric Danquah, a wood mask artisan who has long been a Novica featured artist. Eric introduced me to the world of arts and crafts as I helped him sell his products. My husband dabbled in bead making - a skill he learned from a sister who used to share his workshop with him. After she left town for personal reasons, customers still requested her beads. He identified this as an opportunity and started to stock beads from friends who sold their beads at other markets.

"Eric also strung beads as bracelets and necklaces to add up to the necklaces he retailed for other jewelers. When we got married, he started teaching me every evening after work while we relaxed and chatted. He noticed my love for the beads and how I commented on beads worn by others. I have always loved beads and I also admired the way bead necklaces brighten up anyone who wears them, so learning the art of making them was exciting. I initially started working on simple stringing techniques which I learned from observing the samples we purchased and also from my husband, who had basic knowledge of bead stringing. I observed him string the different beads together and did the same.

"I am a quick learner so I started making a few products which sold very well. Not too long after that, I found a women's organization that trained adults in bead making. It was an NGO that helped empower women by teaching them a trade to support their families. Although I knew the basics of stringing beads, I yearned to learn more techniques to craft unique pieces.

"I started training right after I had my first child. My husband was very supportive; he took care of the baby whenever I had to be in school. My experience in design from working with my husband paid off. I picked up the skill very fast and after a month of training, I was making unique pieces which sold very well. The initial challenge I faced was having the time to make the products and at the same time take care of a baby and a home. It was tough but manageable with help and encouragement from my husband.

"My materials include sustainably managed sources of wood as pendants and beads, which my husband carves for me. I draw inspiration from the traditions of my Akuapim culture, and of nature. I also use natural stones and recycled material for my jewelry. I am passionate about what I do, so I am always eager to learn new trends and designs to make my designs unique and attractive to customers.

"Currently I string beads as a full time job to help support my family of four. I believe pursuing bead making was the right decision to make: I enjoy what I do and the rewards are great! I have constant customers, local and tourists.

"I don't have any workers at the moment, but my husband helps out occasionally when needed. I hope to take in apprentices in the near future to pass on the skills I have learned. My plan for the future includes setting up my own workshop.

"My friends describe me as an introvert, hardworking and honest person. I dislike confrontations and I don't associate with quarrelsome people. I like having a good laugh with friends, they say I have a hearty laugh which makes them smile whenever I laugh. I love to cook and spend time with my family. I also like to sing and I do this as a chorister at my local church every Sunday.

"My husband has benefited a great deal from being a Novica artisan, including the international exposure, steady source of income and financial aid through the Novica microcredit program. I am very grateful for the opportunity to also be a part of this family."