By Renford R. Reese The Afro News international : Naa Sheka Riby-Williams has lived a life of full of twists, turns, and rich life’s lesson.
The daughter of a Ghanaian father and a Canadian mother, she is a graduate of Semiahmoo High School in White Rock. Naa Sheka is a traditional “Ga” name from Ghana, West Africa. Its true meaning is “Lady Money.”
In high school, Naa Sheka excelled in hockey, soccer, rugby, and basketball. It was her basketball talent that led her to North Carolina to play for John C. Smith University. After a brief stint in N.C., Naa Sheka returned to Vancouver to play basketball at Douglas College in 2004 and 2005. She left Douglas to attend the University of Ghana, Legon in 2006 where she took nursing classes and briefly played on the women’s basketball team. After returning to Vancouver in 2008, she enrolled in Langara College while taking business classes. She attained her “Entrepreneurship Marketing Management” certificate from BCIT in 2010. She attended five different institutions of higher education in three different countries trying to find her passion—trying to find that thing that would stir her adrenalin.
From 18—22 years of age, Naa Sheka experienced more downs than ups. She was one of the best women’s basketball players to come out high school in White Rock but never really got the opportunity to display her skills on a prominent stage worthy of her talent. Raised in the midst of affluence, she was reared by a single mother who gave her unconditional love and support but struggled to make ends meet. The frustration of growing up in constant financial insecurity gave her the intensity, the edge, and grit of a prizefighter. According Nash, as she is called by her friends, “I have tried to keep a positive mindset and work hard. I have tried to learn from all of my mistakes and study the causes and consequences of my good and bad decisions.”
While a university student in Ghana, Naa Sheka immersed herself in the dynamic Ghanaian culture. She felt just as at home in Accra, the nation’s capital, as she did in White Rock. While in Ghana she was not only intrigued by the warm spirit of the people, she was also fascinated by the clothing. The detail, style of fabric, and the traditional textiles thoroughly engaged her. She was so inspired by what she saw that she came back to Canada with the idea of starting a clothing label. She had finally found her passion. At the age of 22, she founded the clothing label,
Today, Naa Sheka clothing is headquartered in Vancouver. The label manufactures its clothes in its shop in Osu, Accra, Ghana. The brand produces sophisticated but practical clothing that is authentically Ghanaian. Products include recyclable bags, to help maintain an eco-friendly environment. The company sells trendy yoga mat bags and colorful tote bags, which are popular items. The collection consists of men and women’s clothing that is suitable for warmer climates including men’s linen pants, stylish shirts, women’s tunics and Capri pants.
The Naa Sheka brand is socially conscious and supports Fair Trade. The company supports local talents in Ghana and provides them with employment. The company strongly believes in the overall development of Ghanaians; this is why the company donates a portion of its profits to “Bless the Mic”, an organization that is committed to uplifting the lives of Ghanaians through, music, spoken word, and entertainment. Naa Sheka Riby-Williams enthusiastically embraces the company’s motto “Fashion, Passion, and Consciousness.”
FASHION: as rich as the people who craft it.
PASSION: put into each piece created.
CONSCIOUSNESS: of who and what we support.
Currently, the Naa Sheka brand is being sold in five stores in Vancouver. It has also been sold in stores in New York and Los Angeles. Naa Sheka Riby-Williams is only 26 years old and has lived a life, and learned the lessons, of a person far beyond her years. She possesses “it,” which is a nebulous characteristic that all dynamic people have. It is the “it” factor that will ultimately make Nash and the Naa Sheka brand widely successful. You can see the Naa Sheka brand at: westafricanfashion.com