The Story of Shimena
For a long time, the mountainous region around Arba Minch in the south of Ethiopia is known for its 2000-year-old tradition of producing the finest fabrics on authentic handlooms.
During his childhood and college days, Firew Konjo the founder of shimena noticed, that the numbers of artisans and workshops in the region decreased enormously. The reason for the decrease was the import of cheap clothing and textiles and as a result less demand and fewer jobs.
It would have been a pity to see the valuable, colorful handcrafts replaced by the cheap products the fast fashion industry is offering, so Firew Konjo took action.
"Like weaving threads to create good fabric, we need to weave friendships to create a fair, cooperating society."
He collected cotton and learned how to dye. Afterwards, he taught it to unemployed people from his village and soon got in touch with Sabahar, an Ethiopian company that sells uniquely designed cotton and silk textiles to fair trade conditions.
Konjo recognized bright prospects, so he connected with artisans, who are adept in weaving and built a washing department. In order to keep the traditional fabrication authentic and to minimize their environmental impact, Konjo focused on sourcing local, sustainable material like cotton, which is picked in the lowland close to Arba Minch.
After a while Konjo managed to build two workshops: one in the town center and one in a village nearby. In the garden of the workshop he and his staff established their own silk production. By keeping the whole production chain under close observation, Konjo ensures that all ethical aspects are appropriately implemented.
In 2020 the company changed its name from Jano into Shimena. In the same year the brands Shimena, Kabana and Enzi founded the Ethiopian Fashion Community with the financial support of GIZ and consulting assistance by Sequa and international brand specialists.
Together they aim to generate employment and contribute to the wellbeing and livability of Ethiopia.