I’ve just returned from my trip to Ethiopia where our artisans finished weaving our latest line – the Konso Collection. As with all of our designs, the pieces are inspired by the culture of Ethiopia. Konso is a region in the south of the country I first had the pleasure of visiting in 2010. I immediately fell in love with the unique landscape and traditions of the area since it was unlike anything I’d seen in my home country. I knew I had to go back and explore more of the textiles that I saw.
I traveled to Konso by car gazing at the lush green landscape which is so different from what I’m used to seeing in the capital. Much of Ethiopia, including Addis Ababa, is covered in highlands. The temperature is fickle with warm days, cool nights and the climate is somewhat arid. Southern Ethiopia on the other hand is filled with lowlands with more rainfall creating a verdant countryside. Many of Ethiopia's tropical fruits, like bananas, mangoes and papayas are grown in the south.
You know you’ve arrived in Konso once you begin to see terraced farms along the mountainsides. Like most of Ethiopia, the villages of Konso are farming communities but the landscape steep and hilly. The locals adopted terracing to irrigate their crops. The terracing is not just relegated to the farmland, the villages are also terraced along the mountains, another unique trait of Konso.
Many of the traditional homes in Ethiopia are constructed of mud, however Konso’s homes and fences are built with stone. The villages are comprised of maze like pathways that connect neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has a community center where locals congregate. In addition, the young men in the village take turns spending nights in the community center, acting as a local emergency response team incase of a fire or any other need for help in the village.
What I love most about Konso are the textiles (of course!) specifically the traditional clothing worn by the women. The clothing of the region is as unique as its architecture and culture. I first noticed the beautiful traditional dresses in the lively and vibrant market place. The women of Konso wear two tiered peplum skirts. The length of the top layer indicates whether the woman is single or married. The skirts are handwoven and are often striped with eye popping bright colors.
Another popular style of skirt uses natural cotton as the base with a multicolor trim on the top and bottom layer of the skirt. I was delighted to find this trim in the market. I purchased the ribbon during my first trip in 2010, although I didn’t know quite to do with it at the time. Little did I know that in a few years I would start Bolé Road and dedicate a whole collection to this lovely accent!! On my next post I’ll share all the more details on my finds and what I learned about the Konso ribbon in this textile journey.
I traveled to Ethiopia on March 1st and usual, I’m having an incredible time. I’ve met with all of the weaving studios and collectives we work with. Our spring collection is all set and on its way to Brooklyn to be sewn. And we’re also restocking our most popular items. Check out our progress and process on instagram!
I love having the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia because in addition to working on my textiles, I am able to spend time with my family and home town. Here are a few photos of my parents and near my grandparents home.
Returning to Ethiopia is an endless source of fulfillment and inspiration, both creatively and personally and for that I am grateful. I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of my stay here in Ethiopia will bring.
I can’t believe it’s February already! This year has been off to a whirlwind start!
We kicked January off with a photoshoot of our spring collection which shared a sneak peak of on instagram. The collection is bold and colorful and, as always, is inspired by Ethiopia. It will launch in April and I can’t wait to share more with you!
We previewed a few pieces from the new line at NYNOW last weekend, our first wholesale trade show! In addition to the new designs, we showed our three collections – Indigenous Blooms, Modern Classics and the Heritage Collection. I couldn’t believe all the positive response we received! We met so many retailers that love our product and brand.
So I am pleased to say that Bolé Road Textiles will soon be found in a dozen stores on the east and west coast! I’m so excited to see how far we have come. Stay tuned for the locations in the spring!
As an Ethiopian-American, I started Bolé Road Textiles to be more connected to Ethiopia and to contribute to positive change in the country. Since it is the season of giving, I thought it would be a great time to share more information on the organizations we contribute to starting with imagine1day.
imagine1day is a non-profit based in Canada and the US founded by Lululemon creator Chip Wilson and is wife Shannon. The goal of imagine1day is that all Ethiopians will have access to quality education by 2030. They do this through several programs, the program we contribute to specifically is the Girl Fund.
The Girl Fund's aim is to support the education of girls in rural Ethiopia. It does this with three initiatives including:
So far over 100 girls are in the scholarship program, latrines in two communities have been built and training completed in 103 communities. Find out more about the initiatives here. Specific facts and figures can be found in the 2014 year end report (the 2015 report will be coming out next month).
One great aspect about imagine1day is that since the administration of the organization is paid for by the Chip Wilson Foundation 100% of donation go towards the programs.
I am incredibly proud to support this organization, especially as an Ethiopian-American woman. Contributing to imagine1day helps me to achieve my dream of working towards a brighter future for Ethiopia. You can feel good that each purchase at Bolé Road Textiles supports imagine1day.
This has been a wonderful week! First up and super exciting was our studio tour on Design*Sponge featured on their ‘What’s in Your Toolbox’ column. It's exciting to share my creative process, glimpses into my studio (including my studio cat, Pigeon) and a hint of our next collection for summer.... Read the full article here.
I was also delighted to see our yellow striped pillow up on Style by Emily Henderson. We just received new batch of our bright Drimia Stripe pillow which will be in stock in February! Here are some photos from Emily’s blog:
Looking forward to what the new year brings for Bolé Road Textiles!