Arts and Culture // 12.02.2010

Stand out with Zeal!

Article by Abena A-T

An aggressive car salesman can leave you with bitter thoughts about buying a vehicle and a confrontational evangelist can make you skeptical about faith. But honest conversation over an array of funky accessories can restore that faith and leave you one pair of earrings happier!

During our first conversation, Abenaa Asante-Siaw, Christian jewelry designer told me about uncomfortable experiences with evangelists in the city. “I would be approached by them [evangelists] asking if I was a Christian and if I was not, that I would go to hell.” Abenaa became Christian in her second year of university and says firmly in her British accent, “I decided I would never condemn someone or make them feel down about themselves on the first point of contact and in such a manner.” Combine Abenaa’s desire to tell others about Christ and her flair for making jewelry and you have Zeal- a fashion line promoting clothing and accessories “Not of this World”.

Zeal offers an array of accessories including handmade earrings and bracelets made by Abenaa herself.  Abenaa designs waistcoats which are then sewn, along with the handbags in Ghana, Abenaa’s country of origin. According to the designer, who holds a chemistry degree from University of Manchester,   Zeal emanates different styles depending on how items are worn.  She wants people to relate to the items. There’s something for everyone whether they’re going for funky or smart or just plain pretty.  She reminds me of the slogan: “Not of this World”, taken from the Bible verse Romans 12:2 and states that she’s offering something different.   For Abenaa, Zeal is more than just jewelry; it’s a way in which she can express her faith without being aggressive with it. You see, God’s hand was in the whole process of creating Zeal from beginning to present.

It began when Abenaa wore a pair of earrings she had made to a friend’s house. Her friend was impressed and commented that Abenaa could even make more and sell them.  The friend’s prompting was a catalyst but the concept of the business was planted in her by God. As she wrote down ideas, she sought God’s counsel through prayer. She wanted to be sure the idea was His and that His blessing would be upon it. Eventually she decided on “zeal” which was associated with words like ‘passion’,’ fiery’ and ‘fervent’.  “I wanted a word that would describe my relationship with God and [Zeal] covered all bases.”  Abenaa says God even gave her an idea of how the logo should look.

The 25-year old who works at a charity called Dignity, began making a lot of jewelry in her spare time. When she asked God about the purpose of her jewelry-making, she said His response was that she should use it as a platform to evangelize. “Initially I started selling at Christian events. It was an easy platform and I felt more comfortable there” she shares.   But soon God challenged her to step outside her comfort zone and go to secular events.  She started selling her items at university fashion markets. She tells me excitedly about a girl who came to her table at one of these fashion markets.  Sensing that the girl wanted to talk Abenaa invited her to sit next to her.  Over two hours of conversation later, phone numbers were exchanged and the girl now attends Abenaa’s church and even helps out with Zeal. Abenaa also wants to encourage other Christians not to be ashamed of who they are and for people to see that Christians aren’t boring. “If anything, there’s more excitement because we’re working with the Maker.”

Abenaa’s greatest support systems for Zeal have been her church leaders who embraced her ideas, her close friends who contribute in many ways including modeling or helping her sell, and her parents who have helped her financially and link Abenaa to her seamstresses in Ghana. So what lessons can she pass on to aspiring business women?

1)      “You’ve got to be sure of the vision-know that you know that you know that it’s from God otherwise you’re just running on your own steam. If it’s God’s idea, not everything is gonna run smoothly but you’ll be able to persevere”.

2)      “Seek counsel from someone who’s in business or with a business background.  Such people will help you translate your idea into a workable business idea. “

3)      “As far as possible, don’t venture into it [business] unless you’ve got a pot of money to invest into it. I personally wouldn’t start a business on a loan. If I’m already in debt from the beginning, it would take a lot more to make it profitable.”

Abenaa encourages Tempo readers to act on their ideas.  “Any idea you don’t express will remain an idea.  You just don’t know, that idea could change your life in the most positive way.  If I can do it you can do it. Think about it, I’m a chemist!”  We ended our conversation in anticipation of the launch of Zeal’s website which went live November 1st.   Check out the online store featuring colorful and bold accessories that dare to stand out.

Editor’s Note: The website for Zeal was to have been included in the article. It can be found here: www.zealaccessories.com

2 Responses to “Stand out with Zeal!”

  1. Khadija says:

    Got looking for the website and found it: http://www.zealaccessories.com…yay!!! Really good article and inspiring too. May GOD continue to expand both Zeal and Tempo Africa to the Glory of HIS name.xx

  2. Ernest says:

    I thank God for the great work you are doing. I really enjoy your article,it very refreshing and profound. I believe with the spirit of God you can bargain with him and rewrite the history of fashion in the lord’s kingdom. May your fashion win souls to the kingdom and God bless you for joining the ministry of reconciliation through your work and passion for the lord.

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