Della x UO Interview: "Nii" Addotey
Selorm "Nii" Addotey, co-founder of Della, recently took the time to tell us what it's like to have the business located on his front lawn—and his dream superpower, of course.
Hi Nii! What is your role at Della?
I’m the co-founder, and I basically run everything on the Ghana side of Della. I check in on the ladies to make sure the production schedule is running smoothly. I fix machines when they break. Some days I cut fabric for the upcoming projects. Now that Rachael is here and we have more help, I don’t do much of the administrative stuff.
How did you get involved with Della?
I’ve been involved from the start. I met Tina [other co-founder] at a drinking bar in Hohoe four days before she was leaving back home, and we became fast friends. She had some bags made from a seamstress in town and told me she wanted to see how they would do in America. I knew the Ghanaian culture and everything she needed to keep it going, so I helped out from here. I have worked with Della ever since.
Since you’ve been with Della since the beginning, how have you seen it grow?
It started with me, Tina and one seamstress. We didn’t even own sewing machines. Now, we have a facility full of sewing machines and more than 18 employees. We are giving members of the community regular income, which is great. I never expected it to grow like this. For the fact that we’ve been in business for almost three years now, I think we are doing well. If we have done these last three years, we can do another three and then another. There is a bright future here.
What made you interested in the mission of Della?
Tina and I built a friendship before we built a business partnership. I liked Tina and her vision, so I wanted to make her ideas work. I see myself as an entrepreneur, and I like helping businesses grow.
What do you and your friends do when you hang out?
As entrepreneurs, we think about the future and ideas. I have a large porch, so my friends and I often sit through the night, listen to music and talk. Sometimes we talk politics or music. I also like going to the beach when I get the chance.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Reggae. I only listen to Reggae and Craig David, a British singer. My roommate played him all the time at polytechnic, so I started to like him.
What’s it like having Della in your front yard?
I had the intention of running my porridge company in the rooms next to my house, but those plans changed when we started Della. I was planning on using it for a business anyways, so it’s not too bad. I am always on call. Even when I am sleeping, I am only a few feet away from the work.
Do you and the ladies hang out together?
We had a Della party at Obama Gardens when we launched our line with Apple. We were the first to supply cases to Apple from Sub-Sahara Africa, so we had a lot to celebrate. I drank and danced with the ladies. We got cake. After working hard for weeks on the order, we were able to hang out as friends and celebrate together.
Three words to describe yourself.
Brave. Serious. Brilliant.
Where do you see Della in five years?
In three years, we are already international. So that means in five years, the sky is the limit. I’d like a new production center with more workers. We could maybe have more than 100 workers. I’d like to have a vocational school with accreditation, so we can not only employ already certified seamstresses, but give interested people training and then give them employment. I don’t know what the future holds, but it is exciting.
If you were an animal, what would you be?
A lion, king of the forest!
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
It would be cool if I could snap my fingers and marijuana would appear any time I wanted. And it could disappear, too.
Do you have any secret skills?
I cook. I don’t do it often, but when I do, it’s good. I’m good at every local food, especially ground nut soup.
What do you want people know about Ghana?
In Africa, Ghana is a gateway to Africa. Since history, Ghana has set the pace as a leader and peaceful country to live in.
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