Hatch Tribe Hero | Archel Bernard
What is your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?
My favorite part is also the scariest part: Knowing that my reward is directly tied to my output. There’s no designated path for what I’m trying to do, so I can try things and change things and see what works and what doesn’t, and it all falls on me and my efforts.
What keeps you up at night?
Making sure that I’m the sharpest Bombchel I can be. It’s not only my ass on the line here, I’ve got women who have realized what it’s like to be the top earner in their families, and I don’t want them to have to go back to any other way of life. There’s a lot of pressure knowing Sis Louise left her abusive husband because she finally made enough money by working at The Bombchel Factory to raise her kids on her own. I don’t take that lightly. She can’t go back to the way things were. She’s got to write her own ticket.
What ignited the spark in you to start your business?
I always wanted great clothes that reflected my background, but I couldn’t always afford it. Also, traditional shopping can sometimes leave you feeling flat. You grab something great, and wear it once or twice, then it ends up in your closet with the clothes you thought you needed last month. A Bombchel piece will always stand out. And I’ll never feel bad about a socially conscious purchase because I know I’m using my money to build the type of world I wanted to see: one that cares about the environment and creators, and is more fulfilling to consumers. I started this business because I wanted a direct hand in building a better world. It sounds cliché, but I want to be the best employer for women in Africa. The goal is huge, and the results will match the intent.
What personality trait are you most proud of?
I still believe I can do anything.
In one word characterize your life as an entrepreneur. #TallOrder
What sacrifices have you made to be a successful entrepreneur?
Please. I’ve spent my entire 20s in a third world, post-war, post-Ebola nation. I sacrificed brunches and dating apps, but also running water and consistent electricity. You don’t realize how strong you are until you’re tested!
How do you handle fear?
I still just struggle through it. I may be scared but since there is no plan B, I’ve got no choice but to keep pushing.
What do you love to come home to?
A clean home and a cocktail.
Name a women entrepreneur past or present you admire, and tell us why.
I got into fashion because I wanted to be the West African Oprah Winfrey. I wanted to host entertainment news and I intended to wear beautiful West African clothes to host my segments, so I designed my dresses because I couldn’t afford to buy them. People saw my segments, and instead of booking me for gigs, they wanted to buy my clothes. I got a thrill from making women look beautiful in ethical fashion, and I realized that being Oprah was about answering when you’re called, building genuine connections with your audience, and leaving people with a great feeling through your work.
When you’re not working, what is your favorite way to spend your free time?
I love building relationships over delicious meals.
Archel Bernard is owner of The Bombchel Factory and Mango Rags boutique in Monrovia, Liberia. She moved to the West African country after graduating from Georgia Tech in Atlanta. She now specializes in dreaming up contemporary African clothing, training disadvantaged women to sew her designs, and empowering the women to become self-sufficient. Archel's mission in life took a significant turn amid the deadly Ebola outbreak in Liberia. She saw the devastation in a country she loved; a country still struggling to overcome civil war. Archel decided to open a factory to help the people of her ancestral homeland to rebuild. She named it The Bombchel Factory and herself, the Head Bombchel in Charge. She is a force. A visionary. A fashionista. But more than anything, Archel is a savvy and relentless business woman, determined to use her business to build lives.
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