Joyce Ababio ; Fashion designer extraordinaire

BY: Rebecca Kwei
Joyce Ababio — Director of the Joyce Ababio College of Creative Design

At a very young age, she knew which profession she would take up and there was no argument about that.

No wonder that Ms Joyce Ababio has excelled in her chosen profession with her creativity and eye for detail. Today, she is one of the oldest and top designers in the country.

According to Joyce, her mom was a seamstress so she could sew quite a bit while she was young and while at Achimota School she continued by studying needle work.

As a child, she said her aim was to be in Achimota School and confessed she did not have any special reason for yearning so much to be there but said she was just determined to be in that school.

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She recalled that while waiting for her admission letter from Achimota School, her mom took her to Aggrey Memorial Senior High School in Cape Coast because her elder brother was there but all she wanted was to be in Achimota School. “For me, it was Achimota School and nothing else.”

She described her days at Achimota School as one of the best times in her life and stressed that she will always remember her time there. She was also very active and played netball and hockey for Clark House.

After completing Form Five, Young Joyce said she wanted to study in the USA but her mom preferred London while the decision about where she would continue her education tarried  her mom enrolled her at the Accra Polytechnic.

Later on, her mom realised that Joyce was not attending school and, therefore, had to agree that she went to the US to study. Since Young Joyce was so bent on travelling to the US for her studies, she worked to secure all her travelling documents to enable her to make the trip and get back in school. 

She confessed that she applied to offer a Medical Technology Course at the St Cloud State University at Minnesota in the US because when she had earlier applied to study fashion design, it was turned down.

“In fact, I was not going to study Medical Technology. What I wanted was Fashion Design and after a year, I spoke to my advisors at the school about that and I was transferred to the Texas Women’s University where I obtained a degree in Fashion Designing,” she recalled.

Talking about her first job, she said she entered a fashion shop known as Jean Nicole, which was looking for people to hire. “I was asked if I made the dress I was wearing and when I replied in the affirmative, I was hired.”

In 1993, Joyce returned to Ghana and because she wanted to have a shop on the Oxford Street at Osu, a suburb of Accra, she drove through the Oxford Street every day and returned home without any success. It was not until after her first fashion show that she landed one.

According to her, a famous fashion designer called Benniffer Chothier tracked her down and asked her to be part of an international fashion show, which also featured other ace fashion designers. So for a month, Joyce said she worked day and night to create 13 wedding gowns and 11 cocktail black and white dresses for the show at Novotel in Accra.

After the show, almost everyone was looking for her and that was the beginning of great things that came her way.

It was after this that Joyce opened her shop, Vogue Style, on the Oxford Street to produce made-to-measure and ready-to-wear clothes. She also took part in a number of shows with other top designers such as the late Kofi Ansah, Ozwald Boateng, Joe Casley-Hayford, Alfadi and Angy Bell. Her first solo fashion show was held at the Golden Tulip Hotel  in 1995, and that became an annual affair.

Kente show

Joyce is credited with the redesign of the Kente cloth in patterns and colours that reflected a modern yet vintage look which both the young  and old generations embraced. “I wanted to change the way Kente was kept and used. I believed that you could actually cut Kente and use it to do almost everything,” she said. She also started organising Kente Shows in 2003 and the ‘Joyce Ababio Kente’ shop caught on very well with the public.

Joyce was born to Mr Stephen William Yeboah, a Regional Commissioner for the Brong Ahafo Region in the First Republic, and Madam Esther Tuyee, a retied dressmaker/businesswoman. She has four siblings.

Joyce has two children – Tracy who owns and runs Lunchbox, a restaurant at East Legon in Accra, and is also an Administrator at JACCD and Charles who is pursuing a Master’s degree in the US.


• Joyce  has established   the Vogue Style School of Fashion and Design. 

• In 2013 she opened the Joyce Ababio College of Creative Design (JACCD) at Cantonments in Accra. 

• She has designed costumes for most of the Miss Ghana competitions, garments for elite members of society and also several First Ladies of Ghana.

• Has also trained designers such as Aisha Obuobi (Christie Brown), Ophelia Crossland, Christina Parker, Brigit Merki, B’Venaj, Alinafe and Gladys Brew who are also making it big in the fashion industry.