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Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Ethiopian Ex-Model Who is Using Fashion to Change Women's Lives

Meet Ethiopia's Hiwot Gashaw, the young entrepreneur who is using fashion to change the lives of women in her country. Hiwot reveals that she always had a passion for fashion, drawing clothes from an early age. She worked as a professional fashion model and after graduating from a top design school, Gashaw took a huge step in 2012 with the launch of her label, Abugida Fashion.

Her label fuses traditional Ethiopian designs with contemporary Western style. Abugida produces and sells a collection of clothes ranging from women's dresses and scarves to men's designer jackets and children's clothing. "What makes my clothes unique is that you can wear them any-time," says Gashaw. "Also, I design and sew them myself, giving them a personal touch."  Her company has 6 full-time workers, who were once street girls and elderly beggars until she took them in. They have all been trained by Gashaw herself. "I work with these women who used to be in the streets," says the young designer. "But now I trained them, they work with me and they are able to support themselves."

"'Abugida' means learning something new," says Gashaw, who started her brand at the age of 22, "and with fashion I learn something new every day." Ethiopian garments are often created from woolen materials and they're usually traditionally hand stitched. Gashaw, who is involved in the entire process, from designing the outfits to adding the final embroidery details, has continued to use this trend in her intricate creations. "I want Abugida Fashion to become a brand like Gucci and to be known all over the world," she says.

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