The vision for change and development
Joyce C. Nwezeh
T here is always excite‐ ment when people hear about organised fashion shows because of the beauty and ele‐ gance they reflect. But there is another side to fashion which this Ghanaian
fashion guru wants the world to see. Sally Torpey is a Ghanaian inter‐ national fashion designer and entre‐ preneur. She is also the treasurer of the Ghana Accra Chapter of the Asso‐ ciation of Ghana Industries (AGI), Ambassador from Africa for the Global Business Alliance to the Fash‐ ion Business Association of America, a member at KYEN and the CEO of
Sallet Fashion House. Ms Sally also owns the Ohema brands, Travelers Custom Made Clothing (TCMC) and JAK Gentle Giant Collection (In hon‐ our of President John A. Kuffor, the former President of the Republic of Ghana).
She was once featured as a de‐ signer at the National Art Centre of Accra, Ghana and at the African Sus‐ tainable Eco-friendly show presented by Global Women Innovators and In‐ ventors. Ms Sally has taken part in the Miami Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, major business plat‐ forms, and runways in Ghana, Africa, and worldwide.
The Growth Cap UK features her as a case study, amongst others. She has partnered with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Devel‐ opment of Ghana to promote Devel‐ opment Vocational and Technical In‐ stitutes.
Her goal is enormous, as she in‐ tends to change Africa through fash‐ ion. She also invests her time in women’s and girls’ empowerment. As a teenager, she received the GAFUND and MSHAP from the Ghana Aids Commission for Advocacy, Behavioral Change Communication and support for PLWHIV. She researched topics such as teenage pregnancy and the dropping out of females in high school.
The Beginning of Empowerment
for Sally Torpey
Sally Torpey was born on January 8, 1984, in Ghana. At age 16, she enrolled at the University Practice High School in Cape Coast. As a student there, she noted that female students behaved immorally, and some even had boyfriends. This was different from what she was taught at home and in church, and she aimed to share her knowledge with other girls. During Vacation, she got back home, related all she saw to her Dad, started writing about it, the implications on the girl child and what solutions she could proffer. When she was done with the paper, she showed it to her Dad, who
She combats disease, deprivation, and poverty while propagating information about reproductive health education and the importance of academic education work for young schoolgirls.
proofread it. He referred her to her godmother, the Reverend Minister’s wife, who mentored and taught her what she needed to know about changing the behaviours of girls.
After her vacation, she resumed school and took her letter to the school authority. They were happy that someone else observed this prevalent behaviour and wanted to change it. From there, she found the Millennium Ladies’ Club named so be‐ cause she was a student of the millen‐
nium. Sally Torpey aimed to change views on girl-child education, moral‐ ity and sexuality. The Millenium club brought junior and senior students to‐ gether.
Sally Torpey engaged parents, nurses and doctors from the Univer‐ sity of Cape Coast to have thought- provoking sessions with girls after school, especially on Fridays. These sessions allowed them to listen to var‐ ious panellists who spoke about the topics of interest. Handling the club became her job, and she perfectly jug‐ gled it with school work.
Sally Torpey, Women and Sympa‐ thy International
The positive responses that Sally Tor‐ pey got from her activities at school led her to want to replicate in the Ola Community in Cape Coast. She no‐ ticed that women in that area faced many social injustices, deprivation, poverty and diseases. Ms Sally started her office there and used this to reach women and young girls who lived there. At the time, HIV/AIDS was prevalent at a 7.3% rate, and she wanted to join the force in making noise and campaigning against it. While setting up the office, she listed several programs to help women and girls change their behaviours to avoid HIV/AIDS. She engaged people in those communities one-on-one, and she was the youngest teen to receive a grant from the Ghana Aids Com‐ mission. Sally Torpey made films that showed HIV/AIDS situations and how medical practitioners could not cure it. She showed these videos to
many people in the communities, and she even did free testing for them. She had to take her testing first to open the ground for others to get tested. This experience helped her teach and learn.
Her work in the Central Region of Ghana transitioned into Sympathy In‐ ternational in 2003. She combats dis‐ ease, deprivation, and poverty while propagating information about repro‐ ductive health education and the im‐ portance of academic education work for young schoolgirls.
This foundation has seen several health workers and career counsellors gathering to educate students on how to lead better and responsible lives when they become independent.
The Fashion Passion Featuring Empowerment
Her fashion story started when she was a child. Her mother is a German- trained seamstress who had big cata‐ logues of fashion shows from the UK, Germany and the US. This built her in‐ terest, and she started playing with needles, threads, fabrics, and every‐ thing related to sewing as she watched the catalogues while joining her mum to sew.
Not only did Sally Torpey want to do fashion, but she also did not want to leave her social work career, so she fused them. In 2010, she established
the Sallet Fashion House with the Sal‐ let Foundation. The foundation fos‐ tered capacity building, training and production centres to reduce the un‐ employment rate in Ghana and make people more self-sustained and suffi‐ cient. Her custom made cloth line also caters to the needs of travellers who spend some days in Ghana.
This foundation led to her recep‐ tion of support from the Ghana Min‐ istry of Trade. To Ms Sally, fashion is about giving back to society. She uses fashion events to generate medical funds for children who need serious healthcare. The cloth displays are al‐ ways used to raise funds, and the fash‐ ion training is used to empower girls and women.
Her projects also show how much she wants to develop Women and Africa as she recently concluded a
show at the high Commissioner Resi‐ dence in Ghana with South African Designers David Tlale, Tule Sindy, Du‐ aba Serwaa and Harmony Trends to put Ghana and South Africa together. In her future project, she intends to bring Miami International Fashion Week to Africa and power the Educa‐ tion program for Global Fashion Busi‐ ness Alliance USA in Africa to prepare African designers for export and Intra- African Business.
It would be a better world if every‐ one used their skills and means to help others live better lives. Sally Torpey aims to show that fashion is not just a show. It can be a force for develop‐ ment and empowerment. She believed we should educate women as the na‐ tion’s change lies with them.