We are so honored to be working with Sabahar, our original partner collective and makers of our first original Malena line of scarves. Sabahar is a female-run fair trade organization that provides sustainable income to 56 people on site, and more than 120 people in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Their employees earn about 250% more than the industry average for the work they do. They have permanent contracts and receive regular salaries every month. The work week is 37.5 hours (vs. the average, legal 48 hour work week in Ethiopia). Employees receive pensions, paid vacation, maternity leave and medical coverage. Staff members who are interested in going to school get time off to do so. All employees attend regular and comprehensive training and capacity building. Fifty percent of the staff is women and about 75% of the management positions are held by women.

Sabahar uses only environmentally friendly dyes, and has a water filtration system working to minimize environmental impact. The workshop is airy and light with lots of space for the employees, and they re-distribute a percentage of profits each year in bonuses. They introduce artisans to world-renowned fashion designers, business people and stylists so they can learn what is needed to succeed in the global market.

Ethiopian artisans rarely work in the formal sector- so they are not guaranteed decent salaries or consistent work. As such, many artisans are leaving the trade to find other, more lucrative and sustainable work. Sabahar is working to entice these artisans back and to preserve the textile tradition by introducing the beautiful Ethiopian workmanship to the global market and thus ensuring fair and consistent wages.

Sabahar has a team of dedicated, loyal and skilled artisans, many of whom have worked for the company since its inception in 2004. The company currently employs 56 people at our workshop and engages other outside artisans who spin and weave in their own homes or in cooperatives around Addis Ababa. Sabahar has also just started working with weavers in southern Ethiopia.

The company also buys Eri silk cocoons from small cooperatives, individual farmers and farms. It buys spun cotton from women in the local markets who spin when they have free time from carrying for their children and managing their homes. The company works hard ensure that at least 50% of its staff is women. The artisans are provided fair wages and sustainable employment. They also attend trainings regularly, both to build their capacity in their respective areas of specialization but also to help them better manage their finances, their health and homes. The artisans are also provided with more efficient, better equipment than the industry average. They celebrate their knowledge and skills, and apply them to modern products that are appealing to global markets.

Learn more about our collaboration with Sabahar, and how our Malena scarves are made.

We are thrilled to announce our partnership with this incredible collective in Ethiopia. Shop Malena scarves here!

Photo by: Tracy Swift