Abai Schulze - Gulo Bag

Finalist of the The Conscious Magazine Most Socially Responsible Handbag


2018 Finalist Abai Schulze Gulo Bag


What country are your bags manufactured?

Please explain how your bags are socially responsible?
We are socially responsible company because driven by our beliefs, we believe in taking responsibility for our communities’ well-being. We committed ourselves to not only creating jobs for our community but ones that were far and above what other local or international employers in Ethiopia are paying for similar work. We also have medical coverage program and lunch for our full-time employees. Unlike mass produced leather goods, we proudly hand craft everything that goes into our handbags. Our raw materials are hand picked, hand-woven, hand-cut, and hand-stitched. The vision behind the ZAAF brand is to design and produce artisanal luxury handbags and accessories entirely handmade in Ethiopia from locally sourced materials. We integrate ageless geometric patterns created on traditional looms with leather, applying innovative approaches and process improvements with these types of deep resources.

Do you work with local/native artisans to design your bags?
Yes –we have bag designers from European who come to teach our artisans new designs, techniques and pattern making. This encourages the team to advance their existing skills and be exposed to international standard bag-making while still integrating local materials.

Working Conditions. (Are the manufacturers/artisans that are being employed being treated humanely, of age, and working in safe and acceptable conditions? Please explain)
We do not allow anyone younger than 18 years old to work at our workshop. We server lunch everyday and they have coffee/ tea breaks whenever they want to. We have team building events where we play games, go to the movies or go out for dinner every 7 weeks. It is important to us to have a unique and positive team environment where people are enthused with energy each day as they come to work. We try to keep things goal oriented and team focused, almost a family type vibe with the pride of knowing that each member of the team is contributing something very positive and visible to the reputation of the country.

Why did you choose this country to have your bags made and what made you decided to give back?
Being adopted at the age of almost 11 years old meant that I had a certain amount of attachment to Ethiopia. It had naturally shaped me in a dynamic way. As long as I remember, my driving passion and vision were centered around using my education and experiences to create economic opportunities for talented artisans in my country of birth. So ZAAF really is a convergence of both opportunity and passion. My passion derives from the reality that design and creative expressions using tangible elements had always been a driver for me, even though I had spent my university years focused on the hard facts of economics.

Bag Description
Gulo Bag, ‘Addis’ Style Portfolio, Burnt Orange pull-up leather, $490 USD

See other finalists from the 2018 handbag awards