Founded by Ethiopian designer and entrepreneur Abai Schulze, ZAAF is recognized as an acclaimed staple in the new wave of contemporary African accessories—offering an array of modern and functional leather handbags. Meaning “tree” in Amharic, Schulze draws inspiration from ZAAF’s Ethiopian heritage, the colors, textures and patterns featured on each accessory showcasing her deep reverence for the depths of her homeland’s ancient cultures and natural beauty.
In 2018, ZAAF received the 2014 UNESCO Tremplin Prize for Entrepreneurship, and in 2018, was nominated for Socially Responsible handbag design at the Independent Handbag Designer Awards in New York. The brand’s products are now carried in boutiques in France, Nairobi, and Ethiopia and the USA, and recently the brand opened an experiential design-and-shop boutique in Washington D.C.
As the brand’s founder, Schulze—who boasts an academic background in economics and fine arts from George Washington University—is dedicated to developing long-term growth opportunities across Africa and economically empowering skilled artisans by collaborating with them on contemporary products that can compete on the global market. Through her creativity and business savvy, she has built a brand that embodies the values she holds dear, and is paving the way for a new wave of Ethiopian luxury leather goods designers seeking to create authentic stories around African craftsmanship.
The Africa Awards for Entrepreneurship, Finalist, 2015
UNESCO Tremplin Prize for Entrepreneurship, 2014