Almaz Textile Design is one of the most exciting new stores in Shopify. At Growth Suite team, we contacted Almaz Textile Design team to learn more about their journey for this great store. You'll learn their amazing story and vision. Before going to our interview questions we firstly want to thank Almaz Textile Design for this great interview.
My name is Semhal Tsegaye Abebe, I was born in 1985 in Ethiopia and grew up partially in Addis Abeba and in various cities in Tuscany (Italy) and have been living on the cusp between the two cultures ever since. I speak fluent Italian, Amharic, English and basic French, skills that I used to work as a cultural and linguistic mediator for Arci - Associazione Ricreativa e Culturale Italiana.
With a background in Urban and Landscape Planning (BSc – University of Florence), a Master’s degree in Marketing Management (University of Pisa) I later gained experience in Marketing & Sales and Business development in different sectors: cartography, advertising, healthcare.
When I came back from my vacation in Ethiopia in 2019 I just wanted to create something “artistic”, I have always had a thing for drawing and art.
Definitely a trip to Ethiopia makes one want to do and create and engage in some sort of business and I have never liked working in an office so once in Italy I made a courageous decision and left my job to pursue these dreams and thanks to the Italian welfare system, as a person who had worked continuously for years I had 1 year of paid leave.
With a passion for slow-travel, the arts, and an appetite for design, in 2020 I began working on a project called trekNotes www.treknotes.eu, with a cartographer, a friend and ex-colleague called Gianni Meucci, with a vision to foster a slower and deeper approach to tourism in Africa and from an inside-out perspective.
Because of the covid19 pandemic on May 2020 the first project had halted of course and so we started working on a new project, in the beginning I didn’t know what it would become.
In October 2020 I founded Almaz textile design, www.almazdesign.it, with the constant collaboration of a dear friend, ex colleague, who supported me in the logistics, in the phase of research of suppliers, sharing the load of much of the initial work and in sharing the whole enthusiasm of the job.
Almaz Textile Design started because I have always wanted to do something creative in my life, I used to spend entire days designing clothes (as many young girls do) and I poured enthusiastic creative passion in the models I drew and years later I would see them on TV or in magazines and think “wow, if only I had produced them somehow”.
The project started in the same year (2020) where treknotes started, because of the pandemic. Hadn’t it been for the pandemic who knows when I would have began working on it.
The core of Almaz is its original patterns and strong values. The patterns are inspired by cultural heritage items from around the world and they are.
All products are handmade, meaning that there is a slower approach to fashion. They are printed only on cotton fabrics. We have been accustomed to industrial low cost products that exploit low cost labour. Almaz wants to produce locally and tailors that I collaborate with live within 10km, they are Italians, Senegalese, from Bangladesh, China, but they live here, therefore have higher living costs.
At the moment I have focused on accessories and home decor products, the t-shirt line is industrial, but even here there is an effort towards ecological products, in fact now only organic t-shirts are used to print either catalogue or personalised ones.
With a view to make Almaz more ecological, there are plans to leave the printing process and collaborate only from artisans that hand down the complex tradition of working with the loom and support communities abroad. Usually these kinds of fabrics are dyied with natural elements and this would make the final products almost completely ecological. However, the high costs of production, handcrafting and import would determine a different pricing and a different target market.
Customers are very happy to find haute couture products with accessible prices, so the feedback is often surprising, they are happy as kids.
We should encourage handmade products as they have a healing property in society, for whoever is involved, either the designers, the taylors or the customers, it could be called “the happiness chain”.
The advantage of Almaz textile design, as it is now, is that it makes haute couture products accessible.
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