- Bernnett Brako Asiamah founded Bello Couture Gh in 2014 and registered the fashion brand in 2015
- In 2020, the Ghanaian fashion venture suffered a significant setback when COVID-19 struck Ghana
- The entrepreneur sat down with YEN.com.gh to discuss his education, the journey of his fashion brand, and overcoming major challenges
Born to parents with modest backgrounds, Bernnett Brako Asiamah overcame financial impediments to turn his sense of fashion into a flourishing business.
The Bello Couture Gh founder formally launched his clothing brand in 2015. He had little idea that years later, his designs would become one of the most sought-after brands in Ghana.
Bernnett began his career as a laboratory technician at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) in Accra, where he completed his one-year national service and later worked for two years. He went on to work at E-Med Diagnostic Services for another two years before getting the idea to establish his fashion label.
''My name is Bernnett Asiamah, and I am the creative director of Bello Couture Gh. We have two branches, the Tesano and the Westlands branches,'' he tells YEN.com.gh.
The journey of Bello Couture Gh founder from the classroom
The youthful business owner did not earn the milestone on a silver platter. Bernnett overcame family and financial difficulties to achieve his dream of becoming a connoisseur of modern fashion in Ghana.
''I was born in Alajo in Accra, where I grew up because we have our family house there. I received my primary and junior high education at Blessed Assurance School in Fadama.''
See an adult photo of Bernnett Brako Asiamah below:
Bernnett recalls that his family of five, including his mum, father, and two siblings, relocated to Fadama after nine years in Alajo.
''We stayed in Alajo for about nine years, lived in Fadama for almost six years, moved from Fadama and live at Abeka for four years, and then returned to Alajo,'' he recounts.
Bernnett skilfully navigated the impact of his family's relocations on his social interactions and academics. During his years at Blessed Assurance School, he balanced his role as the school prefect while serving as a Wildlife leader. Nonetheless, he achieved an aggregate of eight in the 2004 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE).
''We are three siblings, including two girls. We are not a family that struggled. We were okay. My father was not wealthy but did everything to provide for us. He did everything not to make us struggle.
''I remember he would always come home with gifts. There was unity at home, and my dad was a disciplinarian,'' says Bernnett.
In 2007, Bernnett finished Nifa Senior High School (GREAT NISEC) in Ghana's Eastern Region. He was initially accepted into his first-choice school, Adisadel College, but his father was concerned about the lack of a family member nearby to keep him in check if he went astray.
''My father inspired me to study science because he was a pharmacist.''
Besides his ability to lead, Bernnett discovered his passion for dance, a talent which came to him in SHS, where his school father helped develop the skill.
''There was a time during entertainment when students would battle/dance. My colleagues would encourage me to join dance groups. My school father was a dancer, who trained me,'' he recalls.
However, Bernnett could not balance his studies with extracurricular activities, as he underperformed in Chemistry in the 2007 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
''I didn't do well in Chemistry. My daddy wanted me to sit for the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) NOV/DEC, but I told him I'd still apply for admission into the university.
''I applied to study medical lab at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and biological science at the University of Ghana, Legon. I got political science in Legon, but KNUST didn't offer me admission.''
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See an adult photo of Bernnett Brako Asiamah below:
Bernnett was keen on pursuing a science-related career, which fueled his decision to apply for a Higher National Diploma (HND) in science laboratory technology (SLT) at Accra Polytechnic, present-day Accra Technical University (ATU).
Before enrolling at Accra Polytechnic, he worked at a roofing sheets company to raise funds for his education because it was pretty challenging for his father to finance the education of all three children.
''I lived in Nyamekye in 2007 and worked with a roofing sheets company to fund my education. My father paid for my first year. However, my female friends assisted with funding my second and third-year tuition at Accra Polytechnic,'' he tells YEN.com.gh.
From the classroom to the lab
In 2011, after his three-year programme, he leveraged his uncle's role as a manager at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital morgue to complete his national service.
Determined to establish himself in a science-related field, Bernnett excellently executed his role in the pathology department of Korle-Bu, winning the heart of his department head.
''I was taken to the pathology department to study under the doctors. Some other national service personnel and I acted as the autopsy secretaries to record whatever the doctors did at the theatres. So, when they did the autopsy, we brought the samples to the lab and checked the cause of death.
''My HOD asked if I wanted to be retained because of my hard work. I said yes, and God being so good after my national service in 2012, I got my first job in Korle-Bu.''
After a year at E-Med Diagnostic Services, Madina branch, he was promoted to manage a new branch in Liberia Camp, where he worked for another year. Around the same time, his father, who worked as a pharmacist, lost his warehouse.
''So, things became tough for my nuclear family. My dad relocated with my mum and two sisters to Ghana's Northern Region because his ailing friend had a pharmacy and wanted my father to run the place for him. I stayed in Accra because of my job. Unfortunately, the warehouse got burnt, and things became difficult for us again,'' he recalls.
Birthing Bello Couture Gh
Bernnett was, however, prompted by the mountains of challenges to turn his love for fashion into a venture.
''It started in Accra Poly. I was getting a lot of buzz. People thought I dressed rather funkier than a science student was supposed to look.
My job at E-Med Diagnostic Services then paid GH¢500.00, but I would send 90% to my mum for their upkeep. Then, I had the idea to turn my sense of fashion into a business.''
Without sewing skills, Bernnett drafted his designs and gave them to a clothier, Thomas, to bring them to life, impressing church folks.
''One time, my choir director, Daniel, sat me down in his car and advised that I go into the fashion business because my designs are lovely and unique. I considered that and worked on it.
''I leveraged social media to post one of my old stuff, which grabbed the attention of a cousin, who requested for it. I bought the fabric and went to Thomas, who sewed it for my cousin. He was my first client,'' he says.
By 2015, Bernnett had registered his fashion company after a year of operating the Bello Couture Gh brand.
See a photo of Bernett taken after 2015 below:
First business breakthrough for Bello Couture Gh
Life smiled when a family member named Akosuah contracted him to style the groomsmen for her wedding, investing the money into the business. Bernnett's fashion brand elevated locally and received international exposure after he participated in the Amsterdam Fashion Week, where he showcased some of his unique designs.
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However, years after financing his fashion business with funds from his work as a lab technician at E-Med Diagnostic Services, life inundated him with challenges in 2020.
''We started getting international recognition, and I wanted to tap into it. I went to Amsterdam Fashion Week, and we got offers from Belgium. I returned and used all my savings to start a European tour: UK, Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, and Denmark.
''When I finished Denmark and was about to return, Covid started. The government imposed a lockdown a week after I arrived in Ghana. I had salaries to pay. It was a burden and a difficult period,'' he says.
Things turned around when he maximised his creativity with a Covid-19 nose mask he designed and registered with the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA).
''People loved it, which revived everything; we provided the designer nose mask to many companies: DHL, hospitals, and Melcom Ghana.''
Global reach of an award-winning fashion brand
Now, the Bello Couture Gh brand can boast of associations with prominent names in Ghana's entertainment and media scenes, such as Sarkodie, Stonebwoy, Akwaboah Jnr, Obrafour, Okyeame Kwame, Keche, Kwaw Kese, and Abeiku Santana.
With prestigious awards and loyal clients globally, the brand has placements in several shops in the UK and Belgium. Bernnett tells YEN.com.gh he's working to have his designs in notable fashion shops worldwide.
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At the time, he barely understood what it took to start, run and maintain a business. But he knew his mother's ventures were means of survival that required his support and that of his three brothers.
The businessman is known for his charitable deeds towards people experiencing poverty in society.
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