The world’s fashion conscious buyers are increasingly interested in knowing where the luxury goods they purchase are made, and by whom. For entrepreneur Abai Schulze, founder of growing brand ZAAF, her company’s strong backstory and ethos is resonating with these buyers, who are rapidly becoming fans and brand ambassadors with each purchase they make.

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What does your company do?

ZAAF is a collection of premium leather goods and accessories handcrafted by artisans in Ethiopia. ZAAF is a word that means “tree” in the ancient and noble Amharic language. We offer a broad range of fashion accessories for women and men including handbags, weekend and travel accessories, scarves, leather jackets and more.

What inspired you to start your company?

My driving passion and vision for many years were centered around using my education and experiences to create economic opportunities in my country of birth. So ZAAF really is a convergence of both opportunity and passion. My passion derives from the reality that design and creative expressions using tangible elements had always been a driver for me, even though I had spent my university years focused on the hard facts of economics.

Why should anyone use your service or product?

Our consumers care how the product is made, where it’s made, and who makes it. Our product makes it very clear and people who come to our shop in Addis actually get to see the process of the way the bags and scarves are produced. Our raw materials are hand picked, hand-woven, hand-cut, and hand-stitched. There is a lot of personal interaction in making one bag from the start to the finish. Our brand has a strong heritage attached to it. ZAAF leverages on Ethiopia's existing deep resources and applies innovative approaches and process improvements. In this way we can support and advance traditional artisanal industries to cater to the global market without compromising their national culture identity.

Source: Lionesses of Africa