Fikirte Addis, a psychologist turned fashion enthusiast, founded Yefiker Design in 2009 by integrating Ethiopian cultural trends into her fashion design.
Her style of creating aesthetically blended and harmonised modern and cultural styles brought her to the limelight in 2010.
The intricate way her designs were made during the USAID East Africa Trade Hub launched her into the fashion industry and earned her an instant spot in the Fashion industry.
Building on the momentum, she created a niche for her brand in the fashion world. Her designs are, therefore, known to be an artistic twist between modern and traditional styles.
She said, “We usually focus on locally produced materials. Ethiopia is a place rich in cotton, and it’s part of creating jobs and using talented weavers and embroiders. It makes the clothing unique and valuable.”
She achieved it by leveraging age-long techniques to produce handmade fabrics. The fabrics are then sewed into different captivating styles. This way, the styles retain their cultural essence and modern touch.
Fikirte Addis said,“ It is important for me not to lose my connection with my culture, just giving it a modern twist and bringing it to the international fashion arena. Also, it’s important that customers have a touch of culture that still exists in the modern world, and it doesn’t have to be too cultural or too modern.”
How it all started
Fikirte Addis’s fashion days started in high school. While in school, she tried her hands on different designs and fabrics, and this grew into a passion, which led to the founding of her brand.
She skillfully leveraged the Ethiopian fashion style to stand out in 2010 during the USAID East Africa Trade Hub. This led to the discovery and launch of Fikirte Addis to the world.
With the help of USAID, Fikirte was introduced to Wambui Njogu, an African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) exporter. She was also funded to attend fashion shows in the USA that had international buyers in attendance.
One such event was the Origin Africa Fiber to Fashion Designer Showcase in Mauritius in 2011. There, she won the Origin Africa Fiber Fashion Designer Showcase. This paved the way to the African Fashion Week held in New York. Her success in the 2011 fashion week led to Paris 2012.
She secured a collaboration with Adiat Disu, a spokesperson for African fashion week. This led to the exhibition of her work on Disu’s site, adiree, an online fashion marketplace.
Her clothing is also available on Africa Design Hub, a US-based online store that showcases African designs.
The leap into the entrepreneurial waters has seen the mother of three kids in 2013 train 135 weavers to cut hand-spun Ethiopian cotton. She is now also a member of the ethical fashion scene in Paris.
Her distinct style in the 2013 ‘Timeless Girl’ fashion collection earned her recognition from Zen Magazine, a fashion-focused brand.
The experience so far
Since exposure brought her to where she is in her career, Addis credits her success to the support, opportunity, training and orientation the Trade Hub gave her. Hence, to her, the place of proper exposure is essential.
She made this known in an interview with Edge Fashion Intelligence. She said, “The first thing was getting international exposure and finding out that there is a vast potential market and fashion appetite for traditional Ethiopian clothes. So getting into that network of designers and other professionals in my work is valuable.
Secondly, exposure allowed us to give the best of Ethiopia to the rest of the world.
Thirdly, it gave me a great learning experience; I learned about different cultures and new ways of working as a designer and a businesswoman. But most of all, I got to see how art and fashion bring all the diversity of the world into one humbled and harmonised oneness enforcing a positive impact on the world.”
Another side of Yefikr Design
Apart from the fashion side of Yefikr Design, Fikirte Addis uses her brand platform to advocate for less privileged children in Ethiopia. She raises awareness on issues such as child labour. Addis does this by getting involved in activities that serve as a means of giving back to her community. This way, she uses her creativity to connect her love and passion for children and culture.
In an interview, she said, “I also volunteer as a psychologist. Psychology is an integral part of my life; it has improved my life and broadened my understanding, so it affects how I relate to people.
Psychology and design are actually complementary. Psychology helped me establish many socially responsible production systems like child-labour-free products, ensuring fair payments and also creating job opportunities for mothers,” she concluded.