Augustus ‘Tagor’ Quartey, Ghanaian Businessman, Filmmaker, and CEO of ‘Exklamation’ Fashion Brand on Generating Revenue, Adaptation, and Business RelationshipsMay 20, 2021 03:00PM ● By Nana Ama Addo
Augustus Quartey, also known as Tagor, is a Ghanaian businessman, filmmaker, and clothing brand owner with a knack for using creativity to make revenue.
Tagor’s entrepreneurship journey began while he was a high school student. In describing his filmmaking beginnings and how he made huge profits at a young age, Tagor says:
“I started my work in high school as a filmmaker. I collaborated with my schoolmates to make mixtapes, which in Ghana are stories that combine dance, rap, and street basketball. I sold the mixtapes to people in school on CDs. I initially did it out of the love of the arts, but then I realized it was a lucrative endeavor. Through selling the mixtapes, I made more than 9-5 CEOs in Ghana were making at the time. I sold one CD for 5 cedis, and within three days I would sell 1,000 to 2,000 mixtapes, equating to between ₵5,000 GHC and ₵10,000 GHC (approx. $909 to $1,818) in profit. I was 17.”
(Peace Treaty Mixtape, Tagor’s 3rd mixtape)
“I made four mixtapes in total. Eventually, I created a strategy to get agents to sell the CDs and earn a commission. I tried to make the business attractive to them so they wouldn’t try to steal my profit. Before I entered university, I did a nationwide mixtape, including almost every top school in Ghana, with their best dancers, best rappers, and best ballers. I sold over 25,000 copies. After that, some people started burning and selling my tapes illegally. That affected my business a lot.”
Due to people illegally burning his mixtapes, Tagor transitioned his talents to professional filmmaking. He describes this process here: “I contacted one of my friends in the film business. He got me a scriptwriter, we came up with a story and I realized it was a huge investment, so I started making skits and looked for a sponsor. I secured a sponsor, then we made the film, and KFC took interest in it and also became a sponsor. We premiered the film in Ghana, and we applied to film festivals, and we won some in countries like the US, Morocco, France, and Finland. The film, called 14:32 GMT, featured cast members from my mixtape videos.” 14:32 GMT’s success helped Tagor, and featured artists like RJZ, Dancegod Lloyd and Incredible Zigi, break new ground. “90% of the cast developed to be big influencers on social media and what they do”, says Tagor.
Tagor’s love for fashion was developed at an early age. In describing his introduction to fashion and merchandising, and the inspiration behind Exklamation, Tagor says:
“When I was growing up, we didn't have TVs. We did however have a lot of storybooks, magazines, and atlases. My mom used to travel, so we had publications like Source, Vibe, and Essence Magazine, and up-to-date storybooks from countries like the UK and America. She did her best to make sure we were well-rounded, so we could speak well with varying demographics. When I read Source Magazine, I noticed that after every 3 or 4 pages there were advertisements, like Sean John or Mecca. That used to inspire me.”
“I ended up reading more about branding and understanding the importance of it. I applied all of this to Exklamation, which I began planning in December 2016, and launched as a thrift store in March 2018. I am now transitioning to a clothing brand. I have a lot of sketch artists, graphic designers, etc who work with me and who are the backbone of Exklamation.”
(Ghanaian artist RJZ wears a Profk harness bag)
“I have released my first item, the Profk harness bag, and the second item, the Djembe Kofi cargo pant. The third item, the Trebla denim jacket, will be released in June, and the fourth item, the 54k Gold backpack, will be released in July. By December, I will release 10-15 more items, so it will be a complete brand. I named the clothes after friends who have been there for me during hard times. I want to give them their flowers when they are alive.”
On speaking about fashion resources and entrepreneurship opportunities in Ghana, Tagor says: “All the non-African print fabrics we get in Ghana to create are from thrift. If you need 20 meters of fabric you can't even get it in thrift. You can only get 5 meters of fabric. If you want 100 meters of fabric it might not be the color you are looking for. If one person in Ghana opens a fabric store with bulk items and their business starts booming, a whole bunch of people will open fabric stores.”
(Model wears a Djembe Kofi cargo pant.)
Tagor’s advice for Ghanaian entrepreneurs is to open themselves up to take more risks and explore uncharted business territories--because there are a lot in the country: “The cake is big enough for everybody to have their share, but a lot of people are not creative when it comes to business. When I was in junior high school, only 1% of people opened fast food joints. When people realized things were booming, there were over 1,000 fast food joints in Accra. Many Ghanaians like to imitate achieved successes rather than take the chance of innovating.”
He stresses the importance of building a good network: “Try and make the right friends. I make sure my friends don't choose me. I make sure I choose them. I also make sure I don’t step on their toes and I won't betray them so I'm always in their heart. It's about your network. A few people in Ghana have gotten to the top based on their talent alone. Also, make sure you are at the top of your game.”
Tagor continues, “For me, it was also important not to make myself too expensive for the average person. Investing in my business was a big part of it too. I have invested so much into Exklamation to make my page look respectable. The guy in America or China doesn't care about your limited resources. Once you put yourself on social media, you are competing with the international standard. ”
In describing life lessons, persistence, and the importance of mental health, Tagor says: “As much as you are passionate about what you are doing, you should learn when to detach your emotions from your business. Many ‘friends’ will come around when things are good. When things are bad, you will never see even one of them. Depression is real. That is why I am now planning a corporate social responsibility initiative to donate a percentage of my profits to mental health or depression. I want to create a campaign to support depressed people.”
Tagor continues, “I have been betrayed countless times, and it put me into depression. I have learned that though you may have lost trust with someone, you have to learn to trust someone else. As much success as I have, I have also had failures. Those are the moments when I realized who my friends are. Like Oprah said, ‘Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”
Connect with Exklamation on Instagram at @Exklamation_, and follow his filmmaking platform at Exposure Network on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to stay tuned for his next project, which will be released in January 2022.
Join us tomorrow, Friday May 21st at 4pm EST on Instagram at @funtimesmagazine for our IG Live series! We will be interviewing Tagor to learn more about his fashion and film journey.
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