Ethiopia: Pioneering Handmade Silk Garment in Ethiopia

Kathy Marshall, a Canadian by birth but a twenty-year veteran of Ethiopia, founded an original silk garment processing company in 2004 which she still leads as the General Manager. Her passion for preserving the rich weaving tradition of Ethiopia combined with her desire to create respectful and ethical work opportunities for the local people have laid the foundation for the silk garment in Ethiopia.

Handmade textiles inspired by ancient weaving traditions of the nation, Sabahar Silk Garment Factory, makes an effort to create better manual accessories and linens for the home using locally sourced silk and cotton. Sabahar only uses natural fibers to create beautiful products. The company now has a range of products in cotton, silk, linen and wool. Both the cotton and silk are entirely local.

According to the company’s Production Manager, Shiferaw NIgussie, the company is the only company in the country that weaves Ethiopian silk into textile. All the products are entirely handmade from the rotating of the line to the weaving of the fabric. But the production level depends on the governments and NGOs awareness creation level to make out of periodic products in the country.

He says that Ethiopian artisans’ skills combined with their modern design, results in the creation of beautiful manually prepared products along with keeping the originality of artisan’s products locally. It focuses on the simplicity and purity of the raw materials and processes enabling them to create unique, richly textured textiles.

As well, the company produces uniquely designed, handmade cotton and silk textiles, among others. The products are entirely hand made from natural fibers. It also adds mainly three core values for traditional artisan. The company supports and trains artisans to apply their ancient skills to modern, fresh designs.

By providing the bridge between the artisan and the global market, they can provide reliable income for families and the nation.

Though weaving is an ancient craft in Ethiopia, silk was only introduced to Ethiopia about fifteen years ago. They adopted traditional technologies to new fibers and products. It remains loyal to tradition while adjusting to contemporary tastes of the national and world market.

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