Get to know the fashion brand created by Maya Amoah
When looking at the streets of Accra, one thing is for sure - people know how to dress to impress. From colourful two-piece suits to flamboyantly patterned party clothes, the style of Ghanaians is a beautiful reflection of the country's vibrant culture.
Celebrating this eclectic West African richness is the brand BATIK BOUTIK created by designer Maya Amoah. Through clothing and accessories, BATIK BOUTIK is for all genders to embody contemporary designs mixed with a traditional African flair. Each piece is a fun, stand-out creation, made-to-order, that prioritises the sustainable practices of ethical fashion.
While visiting Accra, we had the chance to sit down with Maya and discuss her journey of developing BATIK BOUTIK and the impact of how returning to Ghana from Canada, her hometown, has reawakened a deeper connection with her creative, sassy self.
Maya describes BATIK BOUTIK'S collections as fun yet elegant contemporary designs that infuse the use of African textiles to create wearable art. These statement pieces carry an edgy vibe of evolution, bringing together bold designs with an unassuming nod to the everyday. This characteristic of BATIK BOUTIK clothing is something that Maya herself seems to reflect. When we ask her how she'd describe herself, she tells us how "I'm an introverted extrovert! I'm half Ghanaian, I'm confident but can always work on that and I'm still trying to find myself at 27. I'm especially evolving during my time here in Ghana".
BATIK BOUTIK embraces the philosophy of expressing your self as alternative, independent and an individual in a world of social norms
When asking Maya about her journey into creating wearable art, she tells us "it's been a long process... [when I was 14] I was painting and dying shirts, dresses, hoodies, and I had that brand for 5 years. It was my first step into the world of fashion". Her approach to creating clothes then changed when visiting Ghana in 2017. Inspired by the designs she saw around her and the ability to work with independent companies to create made-to-order clothing, Maya set up BATIK BOUTIK - referencing the batik method of producing coloured pattern designs on textiles by dyeing them, after having first applied wax to the parts to be left undyed. Since then she has been selling her collections mostly in and around Montreal at pop-up markets and through independent shops.
Maya's dedication and confidence to running her own brands and continually finding ways to evolve as an artist herself is something she thanks her upbringing for. "I was very lucky because, where I grew up in Canada, it's a place that's full of artists and we have an art crawl every second Friday of the month. The streets are closed and people could sell their art. It was what really encouraged me way back then to start selling on the street." Joking that she was a merchant in a past life, Maya has always felt comfortable selling her creations but explains she'd slowly retiring from popups, recognising how the front facing role means her "social energy goes out the window and I'm working on conserving that".
When it comes to Maya's sassy confidence to express and be herself with authentic joy, she thanks her parents who were "very creative and good talkers." Their way of being led Maya to have an innate sense of acceptance for others and of herself. "I think in terms of how I portray myself, it's sometimes kind of different... I grew up with two parents who were quite quirky which shaped me to accept that difference in terms of how I present myself and interact with people". This is something we see reflected in Maya's branding for BATIK BOUTIK and the edgy nature of her styling.
I grew up with two parents who were quite quirky which shaped me and my identity in how I portray myself and interact with people
Telling us about the queer-friendly environment Montreal provides, Maya tells us how it's also allowed her to continue evolving in her identity, impacting the inclusive approach she takes for her brand in general "finding ways to divest, de-patriarchise and de-colonise" through her choose of models and the expansive size range of her designs. When asking Maya if this is linked to feminist thoughts, she shares how "I'm always setting my goals and intentions that are rooted in feminism... but at the end of the day, it's a fashion brand." This leads us to discuss Maya's additional interests in life - her journalistic writing - where she can share more of her opinions. Having co-run a fashion magazine as a teenager interviewing people, Maya then went on to write for travel blogs while visiting Europe a few years ago. She tells us how "Writing's always been something I've loved and asking people questions which effects me in my personal life and the person I am". Wanting to puruse this interest further led Maya to study journalism in Canada which she is currently completing.
I try to be as authentic as I can... [but] as a Black woman you're often toning it down, recognising that double standards exist in the real world and [changing] to fit certain moulds
Carrying these journalistic traits with her to Ghana, Maya tells us about her interest in people and a passion for focusing on political and social studies wherever she goes "You'll catch me in the corner interviewing people about their life, the politics of Ghana". Spending time in Accra and being surrounded by Black people all the time has allowed Maya to experience life without the daily appearance of racism; creating space for her to see through another lens of existance. "There's a lot of other judgments that exist but the racial one isn't here". Comparing this to life in Canada, Maya tells us how, back at home, "I try to be as authentic as I can... [but] as a Black woman you're often toning it down, recognising that double standards exist in the real world and [changing] to fit certain moulds". This is something that was highlighted to Maya after experiencing a lack of racial marginalisation when previously interning as a journalist with CBC in Canada. "What I loved was there was such a diversity in the workplace...and to be in that place allowed me to expand myself and take up more space" making her realise how much she wasn't doing this in other environments on the whole.
Taking up space is a Sassy principle that we always encourage, leading us to discuss Maya's connection to her Sassy side. She tells us how lately she's been enjoying daily sensual dance "I was always shy when it came to dance. But since I've been in Ghana, where a large percentage of the population are amazing at dancing, I've now been spending hours in front of the mirror, specifically wining with my waist and hips... it's such a mood booster and makes me feel more comfortable in my skin". This has led Maya to engage with her sacral shakra; "I feel like this goddess, or monster, inside of me needs to be released...because I think that area of our body, the hips, need to be worked on". Happily embracing a fresh feeling of renewed energy and bodily connection.
As long as you're fueling that desire to create and spending time around the right kind of people, you feel quite satisfied. When you're only consuming content virtually, you really need to get off the gram!
Another area of growth in Maya's life is the running of BATIK BOUTIK and being able to talk directly with the artisans making her clothes. This leads us to discuss ethical fashion, which Maya says "should be a norm and I automatically support any movement that is sustainable" in relation to environmental and human rights. In the past, while working with custom orders and living in Canada, Maya found a friction between being able to coordinate the speed of producttion and delivery. However, she tells us how being in Accra and "having the chance to speak to the person who makes the clothing....made me feel compassion, it bridges the [gap]" which is something many brands do not prioritise for their employees.
Since talking with Maya in March and learning more about BATIK BOUTIK, it's been a joy to see the brand flourish, expanding it's range of clothes and accessories (check out their new BB bags!) and teaming up with shops in Ghana aswell being featured on the catwalk at Kumasi's Fashion Week. As we admire the creativity from afar, we look forward to seeing BATIK BOUTIK arrive in more shops, bringing the artwork of Ghana through Maya's designs to the rest of the world in a truly Sassy way.
When do you feel most confident?
When I am working on my clothing brand and executing photoshoots.
What key experience has shaped you positively?
Moving to Montreal; its a beautiful city, very creative and very influential on the person I am
One dream you wish to come true?
That whatever job I choose allows me to travel as much as possible
One law you want to change or a cause that's close to your heart?
Ethical fashion is a huge one, it should be a norm and I automatically support any movement that supports sustainable: environmentally but also fashion that does not violate human rights.
What's the best thing about being you?
I have a love for life and I feel grateful for feeling a passion for things
Name your sassy tracklist
Special lovin' - Libianca
Chale - Sho Madjozi
All Good Things - Nelly Furtado
RIDE WITH ME - BAMBI, Tempest
Fashion Killer - Ayra Starr