Who is behind WAW?
I am Comfort Jessica Wajoli, known as Jessica Wajoli originally from Ghana, West Africa, and a business owner/operator.
What is the meaning of WAW?
WAW means Wajoli African Wear.
What does WAW do?
I offer handmade jewelry, with trade beads and cloths. The jewelry is custom made here in Fort Myers, FL. The clothing, sandals, etc. are regionally handmade in Ghana, West Africa.
When did WAW start and how?
It started in 2011 with five pieces of my own jewelry in a church event. I would like to share a little about how it started, and the passion behind it.
First, I will thank almighty God for helping me and blessing my hands to create and design unique jewelry I’d never dreamed of, but now my dream job is a reality. Why do I say that I never dreamed of? I like Jewelry but never thought that Jewelry making was something I’d ever dream of as a business in general. I wanted to be a businesswoman but not in the jewelry business. I wanted to be a stationery distributor to schools and offices, and also a graphic designer in computer services, because that was something I dreamed about all my life in school. When I completed middle school I took computer and secretary classes to be perfect in the skill that I liked so much and be excellent at it.
So, before I went to T. Poly for my DBS, Business Administration in Ghana, West Africa, I already had computer knowledge and was thinking of starting computer services one day. Then, I thought of starting a bookshop with fax machine and computer service in Togo a nearby country border to Ghana my motherland.
The plan changed in 2009, because of another path I wanted, which was to travel to the USA. But the dream did not die because it’s was like a song in my mind, heart and my quiet memory. So, in 2010 when I arrived in this country, the dreams of becoming a business woman was still in my mind, but I did not know when or how it was going to happen unless with the help of God, I would get a job and then I could start from there. The job issue was a problem because I did not have the right papers to work. So, wondering around my life as a believer and a Christian, I involved myself in my church activities in a women’s group called ‘CCW’ (Council of Catholic Women).
That place became a turning point and opened up so many doors for me to make friends and get to meet wonderful women. Then the idea came when a lady I met from another church was the guest to our group on a fateful meeting day. She invited me to give a talk about Africa where I came from, the program was to raise money for North America, Africa and other parts of the world where poverty is illness, challenging to women life as a house hold. It was at the gallery where all the guests invited needed to bring something from their country to sell and to help to raise money for the program. I went with my personal jewelry to just show them what African jewelry does and what they can do if they get women some support from developed country like USA. The pieces I sent were two necklaces and four bracelets, with no intention of selling them, because they were my personal traditional jewelry, made with my favorite color, one of them from my mother. I ended up selling one necklace and two bracelets. To my surprise, I was asked to keep the money, which was so exciting because I did not have a job or anything to do. It seemed God spoke to the women who hosted the program, and I was so elated when I saw the money in my hand!
So, on my way back home with my friend, she asked me a question that a concerned or loving person of heart will ask. This is the question she asked me, “Did you get some ideas?” I said, “Yes,” and then she asked again, “Do you think it was the perfect idea to go to that program?” I said a perfect, “Yes,” with excitement in my heart! Then she said, “I think it will be good idea if you can get some jewelry from your mother or a friend. You can sell them and make some money because jewelry from your country is unique and it works perfect for you! The beads from your country look great and colorful and look beautiful!”
I had no idea about jewelry making but liked the idea, so I said I would think about it and let her know. She said “All right, if you think and feel good about it there’s a place I know and can take you to show more ideas if you want to take some classes.” Two days later I did call her, and she came to pick me up to take me to the store where they sell jewelry and make it as well. It was amazing when I set my eyes on the shop…“Wow!” I said, I quickly found myself in love with the idea, and then I asked the shop owner “How much and how can I start?” At that moment I told her I wanted to start one class to see how it would go. I paid for the class with the money I made at the program.
The first day I started the classes, my friend came in to the shop for a surprise visit, and to my surprise she paid for two classes for me. I was not expecting this from her, because she already did a great job for me, by helping me with the great idea of something I never expected. I decided to let her best friend know and thank her for me.
Not knowing that she was also thinking about me in her heart, these two ladies teamed up by helping me to make my dream come as far as it is now, they gave me their personal unique jewelry to redesign and sell for them. There’s another person that looked at my work, and saw great desire to help me. She was my neighbor whom I call my mother in America. This woman did not only appreciate my jewelry but also helped me to get job training to be an independent woman. When I went to the job training program I met a sister in Christ who was my teacher and mentor as well.
Wajoli African Wear is proud to salute these wonderful women of God, love and care. They are always there for me as a sisters, friends, aunties, mothers and mentors. Sadly, one of these women left the world behind with bitterness and sorrow in my heart. She passed away on December 19, 2013. The regional behind the scenes woman whom the whole Wajoli African Wear (WAW) was started because of is still my backbone, and is supportive of every step I take.
There are so many things I learned from these outstanding women. They have really shown me love and care above all things in life. As Wajoli African Wear grows day by day, it’s my pleasure and honor to salute these amazing ladies every day of my life. Their words of hope and faith have made me always stand up with my head high above all things. Loving what I do has made me who Wajoli African Wear is today!
There are words I hear from these amazing women anytime I visit them. “We trust you, we love you, you are amazing, God loves you, we have faith in you, you are going to make it.” All the words I need to keep going in my everyday life, I have heard it all from them. I salute you ladies with all my heart. WAW Home of Beauty and Smile. I smile every day, anytime, anywhere, and in my dreams because of you ladies. In my Bassare language; ‘I say’ “Nenelitule, wonipotituleni, memboo ma”!
Thank you all.