December Issue 2014

Page 106

You recently launched your line in D.C. but you’ve been in business for some time. How did you get started in the fashion industry with it being one of the most difficult industries to tap into? Well as far as the fashion aspect, that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. When I was in high school I was very much involved with the fine arts department. I was always drawing something and I actually used to draw and design ties for men. So my dad wanted me to do something with it but I was occupied with school so I was just drawing then. I always wanted to go back to Ethiopia because I would see all these designs but they all focused on the local market. I definitely wanted to do something in the textile industry to create something that was attractive to the whole market and still pronounce the culture and the richness of it. It seems like a lot of people started doing that so I thought I should take on a different material; leather, which we have plenty of. So in 2012 I made a trip to get samples and loved what I saw. If you have an attachment to the country it’s easier to do business than if you just want to start a business and make money. I think my background helps. Throughout high school and college I went back to Ethiopia frequently and I did an internship at various hospital settings just to observe the potential our country has and the obstacles and challenges I would face eventually.

How do you balance infusing your pieces with culture and still appealing to the global market?