Our woman crush for today is Ethiopian entrepreneur, Abai Schulze, founder and creative director of new afro-luxe brand, ZAAF collections.
ZAAF collection is into the production of leather goods like handbags, backpacks and clutch bags under the brand.
Abai was born in the Ethiopian province of Wollo. She moved from an orphanage in Addis Ababa to the United States after she was adopted by an American family at the age of 11. In the U.S., she attended George Washington University to study economics.
Her business was borne out of her desire to be a major player in the leather and bag industry in her country. This makes Ethiopia one of the leading producers of leather but mostly supplies to the Western market.
Schulze believed her country was not benefiting from leather production and felt there was a need to add value to it. So when she returned from the United States, where her life journey had taken her, Schulze created ZAAF in 2013.
Schulze’s inspiration to create ZAAF came from her driving passion and vision, which centers around using her education and experiences to create economic opportunities in her homeland.
ZAAF Collection has been recognized in several ways. The brand has appeared on runways at New York Fashion Week and has been featured in some of the biggest lifestyle and fashion magazines such as Vogue. It has also received the UNESCO Tremplin Prize for Entrepreneurship and its products can be found in boutiques in Ethiopia, the U.S., France, and Kenya.
Abai Schulze was recently honoured with the creative industry award by Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) award under the ‘Empowerment’ category. She also received the UNESCO Tremplin Prize for Entrepreneurship.
In 2018, ZAAF was nominated for Socially Responsible handbag design at the Independent Handbag Designer Awards in New York.