This is a part of our Faces of FASHIONABLE series. The inspirational women behind our products have courageous stories of overcoming, and we are honored to share them with you.
Next up: meet Adu. Yes, Adu is a man. But he is a man that prioritizes creating opportunity for women, so we are honored to share his story, too! Adu initially started working with us in the Spring of 2014, acting as our Ethiopian representative (the role that Furtuna now has!) and now he owns a leather business that is a partner with FASHIONABLE. Read below to hear about his incredible role and the way he is helping us empower and equip women to have pride in their work.
Tell us more about your role. After working for a year and a half for FASHIONABLE, I really wanted to do something myself. My time with them gave me the initiation and momentum to start my own business. FASHIONABLE's women-centered approach especially inspired me. As a result I decided to hire women, if and when possible, and so far all 22 of our employees are women.
My typical day starts with getting up early, checking my email, breakfast and show up to work. When the ladies show up for work I will explain or discuss our daily plan with them for few minutes and our day takes off. Usually I spend most of my day at the office (while my partner handles purchasing, government office related works, etc). The rest of my day is spent on marketing works. At the office, I follow every production process, quality, design, etc. since I also oversee design for the moment. I am responsible for control and approval of any final product coming through production line. By the end of the day we overview our daily output in both quality and quantity, rate every person's achievement, exchange ideas and end our day.
We have created an open horizontal relationship between every one here. Though there exists a vertical ladder for check-ups everyone is given an autonomy over their own area of work. The traditional vertical ladder is nonexistent. Most of all we try to keep them happy by paying well (2 to 5 times the industrial scale salary in Ethiopia) and creating a good office environment.
The women we employ are either jobless or who are being paid very low in other companies. Most of them are young (between 18-25 years) who want to do something important and bring change to their lives. In such a short time we have achieved in providing a job worth doing and also played a big role in improving their lives.
When you’re not hard at work, what do you like to do in your free time? I only finished my Masters in Philosophy in July and I haven't had so much of a free time. But when I do I read books - mainly philosophy books. Most of all I like to spend every second of my free time with my daughter.
We believe that every one of us understands what it means to overcome, and we are all ABLE to find purpose in the work we do. What is something YOU are ABLE to do because of your work? The main reason for me in establishing my business is self-employment. I have made that a reality. In the twelve years before that I worked for five different offices (Advisor to regional government office, Lecturer at Teachers Training Institute, Branch Offices Manager for a Tour and Travel Company, Project Manager at an Ethiopian based NGO and finally FASHIONABLE). My unhappiness and lack of real purpose and duty has forced me to change offices and professions. Today finally I am my own boss and ABLE to make a living. However, in just 9 months, I have been ABLE to hire 22 women. And so far that's the best reward this work has offered me and one of the few good things, probably the best, that I ever achieved in my life.
It's easy to see why we all love Adu so much. It has been a joy to watch him use his skills and passion and grow his business and see the results of his inspiration from working with FASHIONABLE.
Some products the women are making include our Ebise Tote and a fun new Tote Tassel add-on that launches later this month (see a sneak peek below!)