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.


Namibian Art Baskets

Traditionally, weaving in Namibia is done by women artisans. They live in very simple rural villages or homesteads with their families in the Kavango River Region. They are very proud of their handwoven, fair trade baskets. They can work in the natural surroundings of their homes or gather together with members of their community.

Purchase of these fair trade, handmade African baskets supports these very talented weavers directly and provides funds to educate at-risk girls through our partnership with a non-profit organization called FAWENA (which stands for Forum for African Women Educationalists in Namibia). Through FAWENA, which works closely with the Ministry of Education in Rundu, about 100 girls are being supported to continue their education in nearby schools.

The weavers are paid a generous wage for their work and the girls in school have a wonderful opportunity to increase their choices in their futures.

“Educate the girls and lift up the culture.” (The Girl Effect)

The Process: Namibian Art Baskets

These traditional handmade, fair trade African baskets from Namibia are one of a kind art pieces made from palm shoots and local grasses which are sustainably harvested in the Kavango River Region outside of Rundu, located in the northeastern corner of Namibia. Approximately 100 women weavers from 4 villages harvest the plants, dye and weave these beautiful handmade, African baskets in exquisite traditional designs.The dyes are created from local plants and are 100% natural.

Girls begin learning how to weave at a young age from their elders, usually their mothers or grandmothers. The weaving of these handmade, fair trade African baskets is often central to the village or homestead. Occasionally women from the different villages will gather together under a large tree for shade and weave these handmade African baskets enjoying social time while they work. Their children often accompany them.

Each handmade, fair trade African basket is unique, as each weaver has their own personal style and technique. Each individual Namibian basket takes between three to six weeks to complete. The designs, native to Namibia, depict patterns which represent their culture in addition to keeping the longstanding tradition of weaving alive, which is such a precious part of their heritage.