Reviving ancient skills of Ethiopian craftsmanship for the production of modern textiles

WOMENMIND’s hand-woven scarves support a women-led weaving factory in Ethiopia, certified by the World Fair Trade Organization. Their focus is on the simplicity and purity of the raw materials and processes that enable the creation of unique, richly textured textiles. From the spinning of the thread to the weaving of the fabric, the Ethiopian artisans’ skills combined with modern design, result in beautiful handmade products.

The beauty of handspun yarn
is a rare commodity in the rapidly changing world
of mechanized textile factories

Many women weave raw cotton into threads at home. The raw cotton is bought on the market, the seeds are separated from the fiber, spun on a drop spindle into wonderfully soft thread and sold. The ability of HAND-SPINNING is passed down from mother to daughter and most rural women spin at their home for extra income. To honor this tradition, the weaving mill purchases hand-spun cotton thread from up to 100 women. There are also women who spin as a paid, full-time job in the workshop. As most spinning is done during free time, it is a way to support women with supplemental income.

Artworks, created patiently
by talented Ethiopian craftsman

HAND-WEAVING has been a way of life in Ethiopia for centuries. Even today, almost all traditional Ethiopian garments are made on hand looms. The art of weaving is passed down from father to son, so almost all weavers in Ethiopia are men. The techniques have not changed much for centuries, but the patterns, colors and designs have become more and more sophisticated. The weaving mill employs about 85 weavers on site and at home. Many come from the ethnic groups Konso and Dorze, who have the reputation of being the most talented artisans. In addition, the factory is also working with a weaving collective in southern Ethiopia.

It is important to preserve the tradition
of Ethiopian color culture and
tinting textiles with natural dyes

The traditional Ethiopian clothing is white with a hint of color at the bottom. This color is achieved “normally” by weaving with imported synthetic fibers. With the import of acrylic, Ethiopia lost its tradition of working with natural dyes. The weaving factory wants to preserve this tradition and experiment with flowers, leaves, bark, roots and insects to achieve finely nuanced colors for its silk fabrics. In addition, a variety of Ethiopian NATURAL COLORS such as coffee, onion skins, tea, safflower, marigold and cochineal as well as imported natural dyes such as indigo and log wood to dye the cotton products. All dyes are environmentally friendly (AZO-free and REACH-certified) and allow the customer to wash the products in the washing machine with conventional soaps. Because of commitment to environmental protection, a recycling and purification system for the water has been developed.

More than twenty sets of hands
touch each product

Each product is carefully checked and finalized by a team of dedicated women. Finishing involves cutting the ends of the fringes so they are clean, sewing on labels, cutting the edges of the scarves, ironing them and quality checking each piece. There is a group of women only making the beautiful fringes on the products, which is a time-intensive process of twisting and knotting the end threads.

More than twenty sets of hands touch each product. Such intensive production practices enable to create and sustain significant employment for artisans who may otherwise leave their trade to find more reliable work.