Handmade in Ethiopia

How our products are made

Welana products are made with the full dedication and care of the local artisans honoring the tradition and culture of Ethiopia. The production starts with carefully selected materials, namely 100% cotton sourced from within the country as well as Eri silk, which is cultivated at our partner Sabahar as well as sourced from other parts of Ethiopia. Due to the fact that the products are handmade, and the entire production process includes intensive and delicate artistry from spinning the yarn to coloring the fabrics, it is important to mention that every Welana product is unique in its own right.

The production process for the Welana textiles can be divided into four major segments, namely spinning, dyeing, weaving and finishing.

1. Spinning

Naturally, the process starts with the sourcing of the material. Women in Ethiopia either in their homes or together with other women and spin cotton onto a drop spindle to create a thread of cotton, which can then be used for weaving. Both at Sabahar and Maraki (formerly Connected In Hope), the cotton threads are both produced inside of their compounds as well as purchased locally. The hand-spun thread is the basis for all of our products.

2. Dyeing

The cotton threads are dyed in different colors. We are proud that our producer Sabahar is mainly using natural dyes for coloring the cotton threads and silk despite the increasing use of artificial fibers in Ethiopia. Sabahar is currently using different natural sources such as flowers, leaves, bark, roots, coffee, onion skin, tea, safflower, marigold, and cochineal. Our producers make use of high quality reactive dye colours, which are provided and certified by Bezema Group.

3. Weaving

After the coloring of cotton and silk threads, the local producers proceed with weaving them into scarves, towels and blankets. Weaving the cotton and Eri silk into the beautiful textiles is rooted in an ancient tradition. All Welana products are woven by the hands of the local weavers on so called hand looms. The hand looms are adjusted for each piece, depending on the size of the product. The weaving process requires a great deal of dedication and patience demanding the weavers use of hands and feet to operate the loom.

4. Finishing

The final step in the production is the finishing. It is crucial to ensure the quality and sustainability of the products. After the products are woven, the local artisans make sure that the edges are neat by cutting ends, twisting and knotting the ends and putting finishing touches on each product individually.  


Welana’s products consist of 100% Ethiopian cotton and Eri silk. Our partners Sabahar and Maraki source the cotton for the production of the textiles from local vendors within Ethiopia. Purchasing the cotton locally contributes to a sustainable production cycle and also empowers small local enterprises in the country. Through their large networks of over one hundred women based in Addis Ababa, Sabahar and Maraki are able to purchase their unspun cotton directly from these women. Additionally, Sabahar also buys factory-spun cotton from textile factories in Ethiopia, which they use for warping their looms. Besides cotton, some of the Welana products also consist of a mix of cotton and Eri silk. Eri silk is a specific variety of silk and is produced through caterpillars. Only the Welana masks contain polyester for their strings. All the other Welana products do not contain any kind of artificial materials.


Wherever you look in Ethiopia, whether it be in urban or rural areas, you will find white cotton which has been woven into beautiful dresses and scarves, as it is an important part of Ethiopia’s clothing culture. During festive seasons, traditional events, holidays, weddings and other celebrations, it seems all of Ethiopia is dressed up in white. Despite the influx of clothing from other countries in Europe and Asia on the national markets of Ethiopia, the country’s own textile tradition has not only proven to be resilient but also innovative and adaptable to change. Therefore, the production of cotton for traditional clothing is very much practised and cultivated in present day Ethiopia. Traditionally, women spin raw cotton on drop spindles either in their homes or in gathering with other women. The skill of spinning cotton is passed down from generation to generation. Our partners purchase the spun cotton from a network of women in Addis Ababa but the cotton is also spun by skilled Ethiopians on their compound.

Eri Silk

Traditionally Ethiopia has not been known for producing silk. Most of the textiles in Ethiopia are made out of cotton. In the year of 2000, the country via the Ministry of Agriculture introduced Eri silk to Ethiopia. Our local partners Sabahar have been part of the Ethiopian silk story since the beginning.

The cultivation of silk is easy but time intensive. Small caterpillars are fed and nurtured for forty-five days until they wrap themselves in their cocoon. These cocoons are made of beautiful, strong fibers that become the silk that you see in the beautiful scarves and other textiles. Some of the cocooning pupa are left to transform into moths. The moths live only five days, mate, lay eggs and die. The life cycle then begins again. Besides producing small amounts of Eri Silk, on their premises, Sabahar also purchases it from locals in Ethiopia. The Eri silk caterpillars eat caster, which are environmentally friendly plants that grow abundantly in Ethiopia. Contrary to other silk types, this silk has a rougher look.

Our Partners

Welana works with two local producers 

We selected our local partners Sabahar and Maraki based upon the principles of fair trade, dignified treatment of employees, fair wages, provision of health insurance, overall community support and the use of natural fabrics for our products.


Sabahar is an Ethiopian Fair Trade company that produces exquisite hand-made cotton and silk textiles by combining traditional age-old weaving expertise with modern, fresh design. The organisation is guided by three core values: Sustainability, Innovation and Caring for each other. Sabahar is a member of the World Fair Trade Organization. See more at www.sabahar.com.


Founded in 2006, Maraki has been giving local artisans the chance to promote high-quality Ethiopian handmade textiles to international markets. They take pride in the Ethiopian culture and want to show the beauty and the flexibility of Ethiopian craftsmanship. Maraki’s production is ethically conscious. They create employment while ensuring fair pay for their work. Maraki works in close partnership with the Former Women Fuel Wood Carriers Association. Learn more at www.maraki.io.

To see first hand how our producers work, both, Sabahar and Maraki were visited by us multiple times. The most recent exchange in Ethiopia with the respective management teams and weavers took place in 2018.


Undoubtedly, Ethiopia is one of the most fascinating and diverse countries in this world. With her stunning landscapes that range from mountains to lakes and volcanoes as well as her ancient cultural traditions, this country has become a tourist destination in recent years. Ethiopia has also made a name for herself due to her vibrant jazz scene, the exquisite cuisine, distinct calendar and ancient history. With the African Union headquarters and Economic Commission for Africa located in Addis Ababa, this country in the horn of Africa, has also become the diplomatic center not only for the region but for the entire continent. To get a glimpse, our friends and family have shared memories and impressions from Ethiopia.

Our friend Hawariat Petros on the Simien Mountains: "They will rob you off your breath and strip every ounce of strength from your legs, but if you do manage to conquer the Ethiopian mountains, then, my friend, you will be at the rooftop of Africa. Covering most parts of the country, these magnificent chains of mountains are also given the credit of protecting the country from invaders in the past. These days though they are content in serving as the training grounds for world record breaking local athletes.”

Our friend Greta Francesca Iori on the Danakil Depression: "Torrid. Endless, unnerving heat. Beneath us, fire, magma, the heartbeat of the Earth. Above us unforgiving landscapes, boundless journeys, and untold stories of the nomadic people of the Afar. Deep in Ethiopia's rugged lands, a desert of salt and lava emerges, a depression so deep, it cradles and births crevices into our planet's core. With fire and steam adjourning every horizon and with the sun unable to give these lands more colour, it seems it is the Danakil depression itself, and its rainbow of terrains that takes away the sunshine from the land. There is pain, there is resilience, there is triumph and there is unprecedented will for survival. This is the most fragile place on Earth, a place where every day it seems all those who visit have made a pact with it's inferno to keep us safe. Yet we are all aware that the destiny of those who trust these lands is nothing but a mirage. To the endless untold stories of the Afar, its people and its landscapes, the most inhospitable place on earth, who knew how fascinating and majestic hell on Earth could be."

Our friend Dawit Dejene on Merkato in Addis Ababa: “Addis Ababa (New Flower) is the capital of Ethiopia. As it is commonly referred to by its inhabitants - Addis - has many attractions, entertainment venues, shops and museums. Today, I want to take you to one of the most interesting places where the majority of people living in Addis do their shopping – the place is called Merkato. It was established in the early 1900s and the name is said to have derived from the Italian term “Merkato”, which means market. It is said that Merkato is one of the biggest markets in Africa and is quite a busy place with merchants, buyers, peddlers, and beggars. So getting around in Merkato is a journey full of surprises. It is a place where Addisians will find their heart’s desire – you can literally find anything there as it is home to shops and stalls for clothing, footwear, food, spices, construction materials and wholesale markets. There are so many kinds of traders who carry anything from used bottles/plastics/metals to houseware items. Especially, the recycling market is an interesting place because most of the bottles, plastic, and metals coming out of households would find their way back to Merkato to be refurbished to become new products again. Although the concept of recycling is not a common concept for most Addisians, the traders here have been practicing this for long. Merkato is one of the essential places for Addisians in carrying out their daily life. So if you visit Addis, it is a must-go-to place.”