Sammy Ethiopia, Preserving Ethiopia’s Weaving Tradition
Our hearts tingle when we hear a story about a designer who is not only looking to create sustainable, handmade products. But a designer who is determined to preserve his country’s long history of weaving, while infusing the tradition with new inspirations. That’s what Samy Abdella is doing. The result is Sammy Ethiopia, contemporary pieces hand-woven, dyed, and embroidered by skilled local artisans. We are so happy to learn more about the man and his mission.
1. Tell us about yourself. What are your fashion creds?
It was all really by accident how the Sammy Ethiopia brand started. My desire was always to create a method or work in a field that lets me help and better living conditions in Africa, and specifically Ethiopia where I was born. I studied international relations since I wanted to be a diplomat. After graduation I didn’t see this type of work as being effective in a very grass root level. So in my earlier career stage thought it might be better to study business and studied international marketing. This way I can do a business that has meaning, really benefit underprivileged population and of course profitable. I came to Ethiopia and saw that there were skills and resources, and materials that were unique that can appeal to the rest of the world.
2. Why did you decide to venture into fashion? Tell us about the products, the artisans who make the products, and how pieces are produced.
We produce hand woven textiles and leather skins all sourced locally with traditional means and talented artisans.
3. What’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur in the fashion industry?
It’s very competitive but you have to be selective also to work with people that understand your ways and end products. Not everyone can work with you. Of course, there are many people that are encouraging you. That makes your work worthwhile. The creative process and the need for change always keeps you going.
4. Describe your personal style.
Easy, simple, casual and neat.
5. Who are your style icons and why?
My parents always had great taste. They were always dressed in colorful fabrics and just knew how to put outfits together well. Especially my mom’s love for traditional/cultural wears. The aesthetic and various cultures of people of Ethiopia, their ideas and my experiences in Ethiopia have influenced me greatly.
6. What’s always in your frig?
Water, beer and cheese.
7. What three things can’t you live without?
Family, sleep, our work and friends.
Sammy Ethiopia has been in many major international print and online magazines including Glamour, Instyle, Marie Ilaire, Lucky and Elle.com to name a few. Designer Samy Abdella has also collaborated with Eileen Fisher and has worked with Toast UK, Barneys, Anthroplogie, Le Bon Marche, Takashimya and many more.