Creating lanes in the fashion industry, promoting traditional attire

Under the label, Maya Habesha, Rahel Getahun started her fashion designer career five years ago. She is known for producing hand-woven fabrics that are made by local artisans.

Rahel was born and raised in Addis Ababa. She received her first degree in marketing from Admas University College. Over the past years, she has been engaged in duty-free business and other private businesses.

Currently, she is the Managing Director and Owner of Maya Habesha Fashion Design. She is one of the most talented designers keen to promote Ethiopian cultural clothes to the global community through artistically weaved and designed works.

Not only that. She is also persistently working to flourish the fashion industry by creating a means for youths who are interested to participate in the industry at her school- Maya Habesha Fashion Design.

The Ethiopian Herald has stayed with Rahel to go over through her role in showcasing the various traditional clothes of Ethiopia and her organization. Enjoy your reading.

Herald: Can you walk us through your organization?

Rahel: Maya Habesha Fashion design was established in 2015. The organization is making traditional attires (Habesha kemis), and traditional coat and trousers as well as many other outfits that could portray the cultural dresses of various ethnic groups. The clothes are made with exclusive handwoven fabrics.

Creating job opportunities for employees, the organization works focusing on promoting the traditional clothes of Ethiopia to the rest of the world. Thus, we have added a modern touch to our traditional clothes.

Herald: How did you end up getting into the fashion industry?

Rahel: As I was working in the duty-free business and got the chance to observe some of our coffee traditional clothes, I got inspired to search more and started developing my skills. In the meantime, I took various short term pieces of training on fashion design. After I have developed my skills as well as the necessary inputs that are essential to get going to the business, I joined the fashion industry in 2015.

Herald: What are the hurdles that impede women in the fashion industry?

Rahel: Unlike their male counterparts, most women encounter a number of challenges in the business sectors. The same is true when they get engaged in the fashion industry.

Apart from the gender-based violence they frequently face, financial constraints and communication gaps are the common challenges for those women who are in the fashion business.

On the other hand, as much of the activities in the industry requires teamwork and is a few capital incentives, financial limitations are amongst the top problems that most women encounter in the sector. One of the major challenges that have been hard to endure for me was related to finance.

Herald: What are your thoughts on Ethiopia’s fashion industry?

Rahel: Having more than 80 nations and nationalities of people in our country, we are rich in diverse cultures, values, and customs. As fashion designers, this is an overwhelming potential that many of us in the industry could get inspiration from; however; more works are ahead to promote the country in this regard.

The industry though is in its infancy stage, encouragingly we are witnessing the works of very young and talented Ethiopian women in various national and international fashion programs. However, we have to work harder to be amongst the countries that have been known by fashion.

I believe that the government would also give more emphasis on supporting the industry as it could play a significant role in creating jobs for the youths, promoting the nation in the international arena as well as generating substantial foreign currency.

Herald: How have you been reaching your customers so far?

Rahel: Besides our showrooms and fashion schools, our organization has been attending various bazaars and trade fairs. Similarly, we have been engaged in online sales to reach all kinds of customers.

One of the occasions that we have been showcasing our traditional dresses was in sports tournaments that are being held in the USA. As the sports competition is attended by various participants from different states, most people choose to wear traditional clothes as a way of introducing their cultures.

Herald: What do you hope that people within or outside of the fashion industry to know about fashion?

Rahel: I understand that the fashion industry is a broad industry that gives people the opportunity to explore more. It also gives professionals to prospect to different outlook towards fashion.

Though I understand the fact that fashion has no border and could get together the world as one, we Ethiopians should develop a habit of enjoying outfits that are made by Ethiopians. I do not think that fashion is about putting on clothes that are made overseas. Instead through valuing our own cultural clothes, we can make others follow us, I believe.

Herald: Is there anything that you would like to share?

 Rahel: We have all been through so much to get where we are today. So, it is worth taking this opportunity to extend my gratitude towards those who put their trust in me and assist me to go through my toughest situations in life. Having said that, as our nation has a lot to show to the world, we have to seize every opportunity to promote the nation in a better way.

If our fashion industry is to grow, concerted efforts should be there. By putting our efforts together, indubitably, we can put the country at the top of the fashion industry.

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