Last fall, in the blur of days that followed our return from Ethiopia, there was one piece of news from our trip that trumped all others. In an email from the owner of Live Fashionable, a scarf maker we’d visited in Addis Ababa we learned that the company was able to hire not one, not two, but three more women as a result of the coverage we’d been able to provide.
It might not seem like much at first, but when you realize that a job at FashionABLE can be the difference between life and death for these women, the full impact of that news begins to set it.
FashionABLE doesn’t just make scarves. They deliberately hire women to make scarves, giving them a jobthat would normally be reserved for men in Ethiopia because men are stronger and faster at operating the handlooms on which the fabric is made. And they don’t just hire any women, they hire women who are looking for a way out of the rampant sex trade in the country; a trade that relegates 75% of its workers to the ranks of an HIV positive existence.
And FashionABLE doesn’t just give the women a job. They give them a livable wage, work they can complete with dignity, and a shot at life, even paying their kids’ school fees so the children can get an education.
Now they’re partnering with ONE on this gorgeous Limited Edition Mother’s Day Scarf. Like all of the other scarves made at FashionABLE it’s made by hand by the women who work there. A place that’s unlike any textile “factory” you might imagine. It’s a beautiful place to work with open air courtyards and well-ventilated weaving rooms. And it comes with a hand written tag from the woman whose name it bears, and a portion of her story attached.
A story you can also find below, but first:
Genet doesn’t remember her own Mother, she was brought to Addis Ababa by an Aunt when she was just three years old and trained from that young age to be a domestic servant. We met domestic servants like Genet when we were in Ethiopia, girls who spend their days cooking and cleaning for no pay and little in the way of even gratitude from the families for which they work. Before Genet could even reach her teen years she felt so hopeless in her position as a servant that she ran away. Living on the streets she was repeatedly raped and eventually became pregnant by the abuse. Then just fifteen with a baby to care for she turned to the only way she could find to support her baby, prostitution. For seven years her life spiraled in a vicious circle of prostitution and the hopelessness it creates, propelling Genet to use drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes to cope. Now, working at FashionABLE and making a living wage she doesn’t need vices to cope with her life and she can feed her children (she now has two) without degrading herself. Which is why the tag that comes on the Genet scarf reads, “I am able to embrace my role as a Mother.”