When you are struggling to find the words to say something heartfelt, sometimes there’s no better way than through a card. But what do you do when there is no card that aptly expresses that ‘you love the shit’ out of your other half? I guess you go out and make one.
That is what founder Ama Asante Diaka aka Poetra Asantewa did in 2015 when she launched Ghana-based greeting cards and paper goods company Yobbings. Yobbings is a pidgin word which means to ‘woo or ron’ – sweet-talk or exaggerate to please someone.
Keeping it real
For me, the range pushes conversations that we’ve all had privately with loved ones or friends into a public setting; and tests our limits on ‘acceptable’ toilet humour and taboo topics. Unlike most conventional card companies, Yobbings says the unsayable (not the unthinkable); taps into youth culture and speaks to them in languages they recognise.
I am not just talking about the fact that some of the cards are written in Twi or Pidgin, but the informal and funny tone that runs through many of the messages. If your lover gave you a card saying: ‘I would drink your bath water’ would your response be an ‘ahh’ or an ‘uggh’? And would you think twice about buying a card depicting a naked woman in a lotus pose exposing her armpit and pubic hair? I spoke to Asantewa, who is also a poet and fashion designer, to find out what inspired the brand; why she felt it necessary to be so frank and what the response has been from the public.
MisBeee: Why did you choose the name Yobbings for your business?
Poetra Asantewa: I chose the name for the business because I wanted to pick a name that the youth of Ghana could relate, a name that made sense to them in a language they’re familiar with, and a meaning that they can vibe with.
MB: What was the story behind why you created the business?
PA: Yobbings is a way of taking control of the narrative. I wanted products that think about me in the making of those products. Our cards take into consideration the language, the food, the culture, the current affairs of the community etc. They say the things I want to say in the way that I would say them best. I believe in not waiting for only special days to acknowledge or celebrate every day feelings or happenings. Every day is a good day to show love, and that’s what I aim to do with Yobbings – to spread love one card at a time.
MB: Some of your cards push social boundaries such as ‘Happy and Naked’, ‘Your doggy still dey jorm’. Why did you feel it was necessary to go there?
PA: The ideals of Yobbings are ‘to be honest, brutal and funny’. I include these concepts or designs because it is a part of our daily life, and somebody has to acknowledge it…and who better than us :). I don’t see why it has to be shrouded in secrecy. Couples should be able to appreciate themselves/their bodies affectionately. That too is a form of love.
MA: Ghana can be pretty conservative. How has some of that content been received?
PA: We have received a bit of backlash or been shunned because of our cards being so frank. Some retailers have refused to take on some cards because they were ‘too sexual’ according to them. But I always dare them to take it on for a period of 30 days, and if no one shows any interest, they can happily return the cards. So, it hasn’t been all rosy, but it’s been worth it. [Asantewa said the approach has worked with retailers who have ended up selling the cards].
MB: In which countries other than Ghana have your cards been popular?
PA: We’ve sold out in New York and Lagos, even though we don’t have outlets in the USA or Nigeria yet. A lot of Ghanaians in different countries like Canada and the UK have been asking for cheaper and faster ways to get Yobbings cards. We hope to spread from Ghana to other countries in the coming months.
MB: What kinds of content/ products are you working on in the coming months/ rest of 2017?
PA: We have lots of new content to share but cannot give them up. But what I can say is we are more than a card company. We are storytellers, who are interested in making a change with our art. So starting from the month of February, we are introducing different content for each day of the week, which will span across different themes and issues affecting the youth in Ghana and beyond.
MB: Do you have a favourite card?
PA: I have too many favourites LOL! I make these cards but it’s always funny how excited I get when someone gives me a Yobbings card.
Check out the full range of Yobbings cads for yourself here and tell me which greeting tickles your fancy.
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