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Zaaf: Money Tree Improves Lives!

High end socially conscious leather goods made In Africa!

Addis Ababa is increasingly recognized as a political and economic hub in Africa. Now, with its rich cultural and artistic heritage a new generation of socially conscious Ethiopians is changing the face and source of high end fashion. Abai Schulze’s brand, ZAAF, manufactures locally handmade leather handbags in Addis Ababa. Abai Schulze commenting on the social justice of her brand remarked in a recent interview, "ZAAF supports and advances traditional handicrafts industries to cater to the global market without compromising the artisans' national and cultural identity."

Ms. Schulze is from a remote village in northeastern Ethiopia where she spent her earliest years growing up in an orphanage, until an American family adopted her at the age of 11.Her adoptive parents encouraged her to continue speaking Amharic as she learned English and while she grew up in Texas she kept in touch with her culture, embracing a desire to one day return to Ethiopia and start a business. So when she finally founded ZAAF, it was a dream and opportunity realized. Today, ZAAF, which means ‘tree’ in Amharic, has gone global with an American flagship store in National Harbor, MD ZAAF The 2022 collection draws its inspiration from the unique geometric shapes of African architectural designs and other indigenous architectural influences from around the world.

ZAAF has been called “modern, elegant, and of course chic are the main ingredients for ZAAF’s well-designed leather goods all handmade by indigenous artisans. The collections feature elements that come from centuries of cultural influences highlighting a unique look. The product's creativity, quality and style has been recognized on runways internationally and featured in top fashion magazines like Vogue and Elle.”

"The stunning skills and even the actual looms our weavers use are handed down through countless generations," says Schulze. ZAAF was established with the goal of creating economic empowerment for African artisans and a new perspective on global luxury. Our vision is to focus on the continent’s strengths and amazing cultural richness by designing beautiful products to the highest standards of quality. We believe this is most sustainable approach to effective economic development. ZAAF currently operates a flagship store at National Harbor, Maryland, and its showroom and proprietary manufacturing facility in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Our manufacturing footprint reaches out all over the African continent, developing long-term growth opportunities and partnering with skilled artisans to scale our social impact.

ZAAF works with artisanal communities that specialize in various traditions of craftsmanship, bringing together ancient skills, combinations of unusual indigenous materials, and leading edge designs and quality standards. An essential element of Africa’s future lies in cultivating and nurturing skills that its people already possess. ZAAF’s driving mission is to create a platform for African artisanal world-class products that showcases and preserves these talents.


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