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To all our partner factories in Addis Ababa: Ameseginalehu!
Ameseginalehu means “thank you” in Ethiopia’s working language, Amharic. Oliberté is really starting to grow, and while our future only continues to look bright, it’s always important to reflect and remember the people who got us here. We have had a series of incredible partners before launching our own factory, and to them we want to give the thanks that they deserve. When Oliberté launched in 2009, it took us a while to find a reliable partner. But then we met Tesfaye, who owned a new state of the art shoe factory in Addis Ababa called OK Jamaica Shoe Factory. For 2009 and into 2010, we worked hard with OK Jamaica and their team – it was not easy for us, or for Tesfaye and his team. We were very difficult customers and still learning about the shoe industry. We forced the factory to use natural crepe outsoles, which were very difficult to handle, but they did a great job and the best job they could have. So we say thank you Tesfaye and OK Jamaica for welcoming us to Ethiopia and introducing us to the potential of Ethiopia and Africa. Then, in 2010, as our styles begun to develop, we met the Simegn Family. Yared and Bisrate, brother and sister, invited us into their factory with open arms. We worked with their factory, Wallia Shoe Factory, for most of 2010, and it too was a great partnership. Wallia showed us very clearly what a small, but strong staff of workers can achieve, and as we continued to develop our sneaker lines, Rovia and Elika, we could not have asked for a better year. So we say thank you to the Simegn Family, Yared, Bisrat and their father Alemyahu, who showed us what building a family-operated shoe factory and business in Ethiopia can achieve and mean to quality and craftsmanship. Then as the end of 2010 came, we made a sharp turn in the direction of our styling. While the sneakers we made did well, our customers were embracing the heritage of Africa and the chukka boot. As we began to launch our bestselling shoe to date, the Adibo, there was only one factory in Ethiopia that could support us. We needed a factory that had hard workers, smart management, a factory that could produce its own outsole, and also had in place a machine that is key to our men’s collection – a stitchdown construction machine. That was Tikur Abbay Shoe Share Factory. However, the number one thing that this factory had was a leader who understood our vision: Mr. Abebe. To Mr. Abebe, we owe the most gratitude. The times were not always easy, but in the end, if it was not for all the efforts Mr. Abebe and his team worked so hard to manage, Oliberté would not really exist today. His leadership at Tikur Abbay is what enabled Oliberté to have a fighting chance to show others that Ethiopia has the potential to be the greatest exporter of premium footwear in Africa…and maybe the world. Our customers love the shoes we made here, and we learned so much between 2010 and into 2012. Thank you Abebe and thank you Tikur Abbay. There have been many others, including suppliers we have worked with in some form, from Tezal Factory, to Anbessa Shoe Factory, to our tanneries, Hafde, Batu and Elico. We cannot say thank you enough. -Oliberté founder, Tal Dehtiar