The traditional weavers of Ethiopia are famous for their dexterity and skill, with all the knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Gradually designers and entrepreneurs are realizing the vast potential of this largely untapped resource.
Henok Reta met up with one such ambitious businessperson, and discovered more about the Ethiopian textile industry.
Working twenty-hour days and juggling fabrics in a series of swift skilled moves characterizes Ethiopian traditional weaving. As an ancient form of making clothes from cotton Ethiopians perform the process beautifully, despite its slower production capacity than the Asian model of textile industries. Although in many ways a tiresome business, traditional weaving has become the focus for many entrepreneurs, especially women, who are revolutionizing the fashion of traditional clothing.
Fikirte Addis is one such woman, and she has worked hard to become one of the countryâ€™s most reputable designers. After graduating from Addis Ababa University in social psychology she turned her back on her education and became a designer. Her intuitive knowledge and interest in designing clothes for family and friends influenced her decision. â€œI became motivated to do it when I felt the pleasure of the people who wore my ideas,â€ she said.
Her impressive attitude towards traditional clothing helped her to come up with a broad vision of mapping the route from her small design room to the weavers, yet it required a great deal of hard work and teamwork. She traveled to one of the countryâ€™s most important villages for weavers, known as Chencha, a small settlement in the south near the tourist-friendly Arba Minch. Â â€œThe idea I conceived seemed crazy for people around me,â€ she remembers.
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