My vision is to use the traditional raw materials, with an ethical value to appeal to a global market and raise the standard of Ethiopian products. So even when I’m showing my samples to potential buyers I have to perfect that sample so that if a zipper is wrong they won’t judge the entire product. There’s already a negative stereotype for things that are being sourced from Ethiopia and Africa in general.
Most people think Italian is the best leather. But what makes your leather and your line, The ZAAF Collection, especially unique? What’s interesting is that when you see these fancy labels that say “Made in Italy” or bags or what have you, the raw materials are all being sourced from Ethiopia. Obviously Italians have better stitching when it comes to making the bags, and they are nice. I do not want to compete with them because we have our own unique style and craftsmanship. So why not use our own raw materials and resources instead of outsourcing work. In this way we expand the job market.
brand is not trying to compete with Kate Spade or Michael Kors, it’s a entirely different niche. It’s very much in the celebration of handcrafted and “Made in Ethiopia” and that’s what makes it
My background is economics and after taking an economic development course, the material I was reading was quite tangible to me. I grew up in an orphanage and I realized that the only way to help the economic growth was to use the country’s resources and also export to not just the local market. And that’s how you raise the standard when you get it into the global market.
In your efforts to reach the global market, what has been some of your greatest challenges?