Today’s Q&A is with Sammy Abdella, an artisan and expert leather craftsman working in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Sammy has been a friend of Handspun Hope for years and his beautiful bags have long been a staple of the Hope Artisan Collective. We want you to get know him and his business … welcome, Sammy!
Q: Sammy, thank you for talking to us. How long have you been making your beautiful leather bags? Who taught you the craft?
A: Since 2005. Ethiopia has a high quality and variety of leather because of climate and geographical conditions. When the business/brand started developing and getting recognition in handwoven textiles, it was a natural progression to design and make leather articles with talented artisans. Using traditional techniques - hand stitching embellishments and hand tie-dye leather - we are trying to create sustainable employment with artisan partners.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
A: My parent's sense of style and taste for quality and tasteful clothing have influenced how and why the company was started. My mother had sewing and embroidery skills and a love for handwoven, traditional textiles from a young age. Friends and family sought advice from my mother. She would consult as a hobby on design, color, material, and texture because of her love and knowledge of hand-loomed, traditional textiles.
Q: How long have you had a working relationship with Diana & Handspun Hope?
A: I would say 6 - 7 years. We love working with Diana and her team, enjoy trying different designs, and being creative with Diana. Most of all, I appreciate her consistency and high spirits. We have very pleasant interactions based on each other’s knowledge, trust, and handmade, sustainable products mission.
Q: What does the working relationship with Handspun Hope mean for your business?
A: It means continuous work and employment with artisans in and outside of our company.
Q: What is something you love about Addis that Americans may not know?
A: Very friendly and easy-going people. The city is changing in so many ways and it’s exciting to see the dynamics of it. It's a city that has traditional life elements with contemporary all mixed in it.
Q: What is something you see - in your own life, community, or the world - that gives you hope?
A: Seeing how our business has gone through so many obstacles and successes, I am happy and satisfied to see that we’re still with the women and men of our team. We are making amazing handicrafts, preserving the art/knowledge, using sustainable materials and lives have changed for the better.
Thank you, Sammy! You make such beautiful things!
If you would like one of Sammy’s wonderful bags for yourself, check out our leather collection in Hope Artisan Collective.
Cheers to shopping for good!