Ethiopia is famed for its high quality leather products and 27 year old Abai Schulze is cashing-in on that.
Orphaned at a tender age, Abai was adopted by an American family when she was 11 years old.
She has now returned to her homeland where she has set up base for her fashion business.
“Ethiopia happens to have the largest livestock population in Africa, ranking number ten in the world so I want to focus on leather goods and I did my research in terms of tanneries and what the people can produce. So, basically that is how I end up working in the leather hand bag business,” she said.
Her workshop is located in the capital Addis Ababa where raw leather is turned into beautiful pieces of art.
ZAAF (@ZAAF_COLLECTION) March 15, 2016
Abai’s goal is to participate in Ethiopia’s economic transformation by providing quality leather bags and accessories.
Under her brand called ZAAF which means “tree” in Amharic, she has employed 17 people in her workshop.
The raw materials that ZAAF uses to make its bags are sourced form Ethiopia.
With the bags retailing up to 700 dollars, Abai’s clientele is mostly high end consumers who are fashion forward. Her company produces more than 4800 bags annually.
She also exports to the European and American markets, but admits that business has its own challenges.
Her collections have graced the catwalks of New York Fashion Week and featured in magazines such as Vogue and Elle.
Abai is now part of number of Ethiopians who are carving out a niche in the global luxury market.