The Artisans

Sabahar: Ethiopian Textiles

Sabahar, our Fair Trade Ethiopian partner, introduced eri silk to Ethiopia in 2004. They promote fair trade silk production in Ethiopia while increasing reliable, sustainable income for households and skilled artisans.

Ethiopia is the 6th poorest country in the world. Finding employment is extremely difficult in the capital city of Addis Ababa where Sabahar is located. The artisans feel they are working amidst an oasis of stability in an otherwise harsh existence. They tell us that their work is meaningful to them and brings hope to their futures, allowing for growth, security and advancement in their lives. Sabahar employs over 70 spinners, dyers, weavers and finishers ranging in age from 20 to 63 years old.

They are able to support their families through creating these handmade and fair trade woven goods and are given access to health care, transportation and a savings account. They feel secure, happy and acknowledged by the generous attitude of their employer and lovely surroundings where they work. Their children are all being educated. Equitable employment and environmentally friendly production and processing practices are values central to Sabahar and Woven Promises.

The further goal of our partnership is to provide a continuous improvement in the quality of the artisans’ lives.

The Process: Ethiopian Textiles

The women employed at Sabahar hand spin the silk yarn from cocoons using drop spindles and traditional spinning wheels. The men weave using traditional methods to loom the silk and cotton yarn into one-of-a-kind handwoven, fair trade scarves, shawls and linens.

The silk scarves and shawls are hand dyed using all natural plant dyes, such as marigolds, acacia, indigo, mescal and madder. The towels, handtowels, tablecloths, napkins and throws are handwoven from hand dyed soft and fine Ethiopian cotton.Their ancient skills and traditions are employed in production of these beautiful handwoven, fair trade textiles.

From beginning to end the design and creation of our fabrics provides both beauty and a practical foundation for an improved lifestyle for the artisans, which includes a deep appreciation of the Ethiopian cultural heritage and traditions. These fair trade, handmade scarves, shawls and linens are available for retail and wholesale purchase.