When Tsedeniya Teferi, founder of the young social enterprise AMELMALO, approached us to show us the woven products created in cooperation with Shimena Weaving Friendships, we were immediately taken by the pure, beautiful patterns and colours, the textile qualities and the weaving work. That's why in this article we are introducing two partners who are behind the beautifully woven blankets and placemats in our shop:

AMELMALO was founded by Tsedeniya Teferi, an Ethiopian living in Berlin, to preserve the centuries-old art of weaving in Ethiopia and to create market opportunities for local artisans. To do so, AMELMALO cooperates with artisans from the local cotton production, such as the Shimena Weaving Friendships cooperative. In its partnerships with the artisans, AMELMALO follows the ten principles of Fair Trade.

The Ethiopian cooperative Shimena Weaving Friendships (also known as Jano until 2020) was founded in 2014 by Firew Konjo and is based in Arba Minch in the south of Ethiopia. The mountainous region around Arba Minch is known for its 2,000-year-old tradition of producing high-quality fabrics on hand looms – Shimena Weaving Friendships was born out of the wish to contribute to the preservation of the art of weaving. To do this, Firew has built up a network of experienced weavers who today spin cotton and process fabrics in two workshops in the centre of Arba Minch and in a nearby village.

The cooperative implements an ecological and social responsibility for its work. In addition to fair wages and equal opportunities, this includes the sourcing of local, sustainable materials as well as waste reduction, recycling of as much leftover material as possible and the efficient use of water. For example, almost all materials used come from within a 30 km radius. The cotton, for example, is harvested in the lowlands surrounding Arba Minch, which is only 10 km away from the workshops. 

Before the weaving itself, threads are first dyed in the manufacturing process. The dyes used at Shimena are mostly made from local plants, including avocado seeds, mango leaves, eucalyptus leaves, onion skins and turmeric. Only a few eco-friendly dyes are purchased from a Swiss company. To make efficient use of the water needed for the natural dyeing process, a natural filtration system of sand and stones is applied, which allows the water to be used for the gardening afterwards. In the manufacturing process, the dyeing of the threads is followed by the weaving. The weaving is done on manual hand looms, so no energy is consumed. This also applies to all other stages of the value chain after the cotton is sourced. Each step is carefully done by hand. 

"Shimena" is the Amharic word for weaving. According to the cooperative, "Weaving Friendships" in turn describes how the artisans, their partners and customers are connected with each other. In this way, AMELMALO and Shimena have worked together on the designs for the hand-woven textile works that are available in the FOLKDAYS shop. As a result of the partnership with AMELMALO, Shimena was able to export for the first time going beyond the local market.

Shimena is a founding member of the Ethiopian Fashion Community.

Available at FOLKDAYS: Products by AMELMALO x Shimena Weaving Friendships.

As of December 2021

The photos show some of the artisans of Shimena Weaving Friendships and details of the production.