TandH Designs and their Creative and Successful Jewelry business
By Arabella Stewart
Published in What’s Out Addis magazine
Growing up poor in Addis Ababa is a struggle for any mother raising a child and if you are poor and faced with raising twins in addition to other children, the struggle is even harder. An NGO called The Gemini Trust aimed to foster better livelihoods for some of Addis Ababa’s urban poor with a focus on supporting families with twins.
Twins Tigist and Haimanot Damtew are a wonderful success story. Born in 1987 to parents who already had several other children, it was difficult for them to provide adequate care for the twins. The Gemini Trust made it possible for the girls to attend school together and to achieve and create a thriving business – against all the odds.
In 2005 they started learning how to make jewelry and were provided with seed funding through Gemini to buy beads locally in Mercato. The girls began to make necklaces and bracelets and began selling their creations. With money earned, they went on to buy more beads and began producing earrings. They advanced from using seed beads to using traditional beads mixed with new beads and even paper beads. They loved the creativity and independence that this jewelry business provided them with and they quickly evolved into skillful artisans coming up with new and innovative designs! In addition to sourcing beads and materials locally they also began sourcing them from other parts of Africa and attending international workshops. To this day each piece is skillfully hand crafted and a truly unique piece to accent any outfit. Using a variety of colorful beads and Ethiopian crosses, T&H Designs have definitely become a mainstay of the Ethiopian Fashion scene!
The twins remain committed to helping the local community in particular women from disadvantaged backgrounds. Over the years the twins have trained women undergoing fistula surgery and offering jobs to young women in Addis Ababa.
At only age 25 the twins were able to open their first boutique jewelry shop in Adot Multiplex in Old Airport (Addis Ababa) and they continue to sell their designs at the monthly NGO Bazaar and other Artisan Bazaars. A decade later and T&H Designs is a thriving and creative artisan business. The twins are now both married with their own families; Tigist lives in Germany and attends artisan bazaars in Germany and Haimanot lives in the USA and also attends artisan bazaars. Both girls return to Ethiopia often and their shop and presence in Addis remains an integral part of their success. In addition to Ethiopia, their designs are sold in Europe, the USA, Australia and online.
TEL +251 913 47 2639 +251 911 97 7486