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Archyn Brew-Butler shares journey behind his black-owned label reshaping luxury bags

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Archyn Brew-Butler shares journey behind his black-owned label reshaping luxury bags

Archyn Brew-Butler is a Ghanaian using his ORIJIN CULTURE label to create signature pieces that help people of African descent to carry the culture, and the continent everywhere they go!

His Africa purses are everywhere, after going viral for their powerful design representing the diaspora and the global influence of Black culture.

Archyn tells By Kimberly Wilson of ESSENCE that he didn’t start the business for the money. Rather, it honors his personal and ancestral background. He was inspired to design the bag after having a dream of a woman wearing Africa on her back while walking boldly through a sea of people who parted as she passed through. From this dream, Archyn began a five-year iterative process working with a skilled team of artisans.

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For ESSENCE, Archyn discusses the inspiration behind Orijin Culture, how activism has fueled his creativity, and why we should all keep the continent close to our hearts.

How did you get started in accessory design?

You know how they say “no matter what you do, what God has gifted you comes back full circle? Or like my Caribbean friends would say ”Who Jah bless no man curse”? I think my story is a testament to that because one would assume that I went to an art or fashion school to pursue accessory design, but I did not. I am a natural artist who, although won art competitions while growing up in Ghana, came to the US to study computer information systems. Crazy, right? I’m sure many, especially Africans, can relate to the pressure from parents to become doctors and engineers. Back when I was growing up, art was not something you would mention to them because they just couldn’t see what potential was there.

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My career path was to be a computer programmer. But even in the IT space, I gravitated toward design. After teaching myself web design, I eventually got a job as a web designer & developer in Philly until I moved back to Ghana. That’s where I found joy working with artisans, and I officially made the shift into designing accessories. As my confidence and passion grew, a friend of mine and I decided to partner up and create wooden sunglasses. Then I ventured off to create watches – interestingly enough, my first major media feature was from ESSENCE Print Magazine featuring our watches. I’ll always treasure that moment and have that copy as a keepsake.

The Africa shaped bag is loved by social media. Can you tell me a bit of the inspiration behind it?

It came from a dream I had! It’s a beautiful story that I love to share. Many that have been with us in the Orijin Culture community for a long time know that our journey began as a magazine, which I was privileged to launch in W.E.B. Dubois’ home in Ghana. This outlet was intended to connect all African descendants together. While running the magazine for 10 years, I noticed that many in the Diaspora wanted to connect deeper with Africa but felt a sense of distance for various reasons. That void bothered me a lot because I knew that the more we connected on various levels, the closer we’d become. I believe that more love and unity will eventually eliminate the stereotypes we’ve had amongst each other. As the magazine content was not enough, I searched for other ways to connect. The Africa shaped bag began manifesting in my dreams. One day, I dreamt of a woman walking down this long aisle with Africa on her back and a crowd of people admired her respectfully as she passed through. From this dream, I was inspired to begin a five-year iterative process working with a dedicated team of artisans in Ghana. Together, we perfected the bag’s shape, which has been sculpted into the beautiful image of the African continent.

Read full feature on ESSENCE

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