Creative Women is known for their quality designs, hand-woven textiles, and improving lives. In 2003, Ellen Dorsch founded Creative Women, a wholesale business that works with more than eight female-run enterprises primarily in Africa and now Afghanistan. This Vermont-based company creates beautiful traditionally inspired contemporary accessories and home textiles.
Creative Women combines traditional with modern, and cotton with high quality silks, while creating a chic collection of table runners, scarves, shawls, pillows, and blankets.
One of the women-run companies Creative Women works closely with is Sabahar, located in the heart of Ethiopia. The name has an interesting derivative, as “Saba” was the name of the famous queen in Ethiopia and “har” means silk. It was founded with a mission to create incomes for vulnerable households and skilled artisans. They produce some of the finest cottons and silks, highlighting the beauty of Ethiopian textiles.
Sabahar was one of the first enterprises to work with rural farmers, helping to revive the ancient art of silk production in Ethiopia. Silk is actually new to this country and in the past ten years it has made an impact on many poor households by diversifying the crops that they are dependent on for survival. It is a fascinating fiber. The eri silkworms begin as tiny eggs that grow into two-inch worms. These worms feed on castor leaves, which grow wild and are also cultivated. The cocoons are then boiled with soap and water and set to dry. As the fiber gets loose, it is ready to be spun by hand.
All of Sabahar’s silk is dyed using 100 percent natural and locally sourced dyes such as coffee, meskel flowers and cochineal insects. Ellen explains, “In the dying house, you'll see pots of herbs and flowers, bubbling on top of propane burners. The low-impact dyes used to color the cotton products also bubble next to the natural dyes and provide a more fade-proof coloring agent for the cotton towels, tablecloths, napkins and blankets.”
Ethiopia has also been known for centuries as one of the top manufacturers of handspun cotton in the world. The women have a long tradition of spinning cotton and continue to do so by using drop spindles. They are responsible for gathering cotton that is grown in the Rift Valley lowlands, and then carry large loads on their heads while climbing steep mountainous terrain. A woman’s ability to spin very fine and consistent cotton could also greatly influence her marriage prospects. Additionally, these spinning skills have a significant economic impact as most rural and urban women continue to spin at home for an extra income.
With tradition in mind and the people in their hearts, these companies work together, creating some of the finest Ethiopian textiles. To purchase any of Creative Women’s products please visit the sites below.
For more information about Creative Women please visit, www.creativewomen.net
To purchase any of the collection, please visit the links below.
• The Gardener, Berkley, CA; www.thegardener.com
• Ochre, Broome St, NY, www.ochreonline.com
• Canvas, Lafayette St, NY, www.canvashomestore.com
• Upstairs at Pierre LaFont, Santa Barbara, CA, www.upstairsatpierrelafond.com
• Bitters Co, Seattle, WA, www.bittersco.com
• Magnolia, Tampa, FL, www.magnoliastyle.com