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contact: lidu@lidu13.com
Ethiopian women
Lidu13 handbags

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In 2001, on a flight en route from Cairo to Addis Ababa, I happened to be seated next to a young Ethiopian woman who was working as a domestic in Beirut, Lebanon. She related to me some heart-wrenching stories of how she and other domestic helpers were being treated and the terrifying conditions under which they were forced to live. She pointed out another Ethiopian woman on board who was distraught and cried for the entire flight, who was accompanying her deceased sister's body back home- the sister had been pushed off the balcony by her employer, and her death had been reported as a suicide. I was shocked and deeply saddened. I felt angry and frustrated, mad and naïve. Since then, stories of this kind of abuse have only grown worse and more numerous, spread across the Middle-East. From that day forward, I asked myself how I could change my life to do something which helps young Africans to avoid such a cruel fate.
 
I was born in Ethiopia and grew up in United States, and I consider myself a global citizen and child of the universe.  I’ve spent the last three decades working in different aspects of fashion and costuming for film, television, and stage. I’ve met some amazing artisans. Early on, I was lucky enough that my first job was working on Captain EO, starring Michael Jackson. I met and worked with the late Mr. Hammer, who made Michael Jackson’s gloves.  Mr. Hammer told me the best leather for gloves came from Ethiopia. This planted a seed in my head, that one day I wanted to make leather products from Ethiopia. Through the years, I also met great cobblers like Willy and Maritzio, and learned about shoemaking at Los Angeles Trade Technical College.  Working with these and other great creative craftspeople has left me with a deep respect for handmade quality products. And a wealth of knowledge that I need to pass on to a new generation. Thus began the birth of an idea.
 
On my visits home to see family in Ethiopia, I discovered that the old Ethiopian artisans are passing away, and their knowledge of embroidery, weaving, shoemaking, and jewelry-making is going with them. Yet the Ethiopian youth today are hungry for knowledge. While very quick to learn, there are few opportunities for them to stay at home and develop a profession. This provided the inspiration for Lidu13, a means to help young women broaden their skill set and create respectable jobs and beautiful products that may be sold in western markets. My ambition is to encourage cottage industry which sustains Ethiopian traditions while borrowing old school techniques from the artisans with whom I’ve worked in Hollywood and the fashion industry. A job with a livable wage, becoming a responsible citizen, and upholding a stable family life are critical keys which enable young people to stay at home in their own country as they preserve their own traditions. Lidu13 will help young Africans to avoid the lure of the “greener grass” mentality and consequently the trap of human trafficking. This is my way of working against modern slavery.
 
As the business grows, I hope to invite guest professionals into the process to exchange knowledge. I want to act as a bridge between our cultures and continents. In the process we will fight slavery while we add beauty to the world. 
 
Working against modern slavery
Preserve local art, craft and industry
Help community and tradition survive
Support the local economy
Give young people a profession
 
Limited production

Lidu13
Ethiopia
contact: lidu@lidu13.com