December Issue 2014

Page 109

Doing business in Ethiopia is definitely not easy since The World Bank has ranked us as one of the lowest countries. But I think the most challenging this is to not quantify the amount of time it takes to finish something. You’ll learn soon after that nothing goes on at the speed of light. That was daunting. I just watched my brand launch when I had planned on doing that in September of last year. The system in Ethiopia is challenging and dealing with that can be interesting. The bureaucracy is challenging and I hope that people like me will do business here so they can experience the economies of scale. That way it will be easier for the next generation that follows.

How was your response at your U.S. launch? It was actually very positive. We sent out a survey so we’re still hearing more feedback but I was definitely very pleased. My 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 different. It is not mass-produced in China so I think people respond to that very positively.

What can customers expect in this new line? They are unisex. I like my products to be versatile so that one product can be used for men and women and can be worn differently. For example, the tablet sleeve; I have men who use it to carry their iPad or laptop and then women can also do the same thing or they can carry at as clutch at night. And the same goes for the Weekender Bag. So it really depends on you, if you love the design of the bag you can wear it how you want. That’s what I love about it. I also like to listen feedback because I want to make it very consumer oriented.

For Abai, the ZAAF Collection gives customers the opportunity to not only be apart of fashion’s latest trend, but to be a small stepping stone into developing Ethiopia’s economy. Who knew a simple handbag could bring about so much change. Now it’s your turn to get involved, in style of course. To shop and for more information visit