Baboa Tachie-Menson is the 25 year old founder of Balm Labs, a digital fashion powerhouse based in Ghana.
The agency specialises in digital media for fashion houses. This includes the creation of virtual animations & images for marketing purposes, as well as the production of 2D assets for fashion production purposes.
Balm Labs recently collaborated with Tongoro studio, an ever innovative fashion house based in Dakar, Senegal with a global reach. Last month, Tongoro Studio released a digital magazine called ‘MADE’ in line with the brand’s slogan, ‘MADE IN AFRICA’. The first issue of this magazine covers the current state of the fashion business in Africa as well as its future. It features digital models and 3D garment movement technology, all produced by Balm Labs. The innovative and ground-breaking release of this magazine which is the first of its kind on the continent made us eager to know more about the vision of the mind behind this agency.
We got a chance to sit down with the Baboa for this JENDAYA exclusive:
Baboa, what is your story? Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background
“I am Ghanaian. I grew up in Ghana and went to college in San Francisco, California. I studied fashion design at the Academy of Arts University as I initially wanted to become a fashion designer. However, during my studies, I took a class in Clo3d and developed a passion for it. I realised that it was what I wanted to specialise in.
After graduating, I worked at Levi’s and helped them implement the software into their processes. However, 6 months into my job, I decided to quit and move back to Ghana to fully focus on Balm Labs.”
What is a random fact about you?
“I love puzzles.”
What is Balm Labs, and how did it come to be?
“Balm Labs is a digital fashion house that specialises in digital media creation for fashion houses. I had created Balm labs prior to moving back and started working on the business plan a few months before I left San Francisco. I am passionate about Clo3d and wanted to focus on this, especially when it comes to visualising designs.
When I first created the brand, I was consistently producing work and putting it out there. I started by creating an Instagram page for Balm Labs and posting my work on the page. However, what motivated me to really focus on my project was the country going into lockdown. It gave me the time to focus and create. My first client was Christie Brown Ghana. I created digital patterns for them.”
You recently collaborated with Sarah Diouf on the launch of MADE Magazine. Tell me about how that came to be. What was the most challenging part of this process for you?
“Sure. I reached out to the Tongoro team, letting them know that I wanted to create work for them and sharing my ideas with them. Sarah Diouf’s response was positive and she had the idea of creating the magazine. It was an interesting conversation and we bounced off each other’s thoughts.
I essentially created the digital models, and recreated their entire collection in 3D. The most challenging aspect of this project for me was learning a new software in the process of creating the work. I used YouTube to learn how to perfect the clothing movement that we achieved.”
What is your vision for Balm labs going forward?
“I want to create 3D models based on real models. Clients would be able to book models either on a real life or virtual basis. That way, models would be able to keep their jobs while capitalising on the use of their virtual counterparts. Eventually, I would like to create a bank of 3D models. I am also planning on doing a live show These are my plans for Balm Labs going forward.”
What is your opinion on the current state of the African fashion industry and its future? What role do you think digitalisation will have to play in the development of the industry?
“I believe it is definitely going in the right direction. One thing that I think is important for us to do is define what African luxury is. It does not have to adhere to western or global standards or what luxury is. We can define it for ourselves.
When it comes to the development of the industry in general, I think digitalisation would make it more efficient and refreshing. It would also create more skilled jobs. I plan on teaching people how to use CLO 3D. Acquiring digital skills like this will be beneficial to many.”
What software do you think African creative businesses should invest in?
“I would say CLO3D and pattern creation softwares. The pattern production process is currently inefficient.”
What challenges have you encountered since moving back to Ghana?
“I have not really encountered any. However, it has been a bit hard to find people willing to work with me.”
Be on the lookout for the JENDAYA X Balm Labs collaborations coming soon!