My name is Mihret Demissie and I’m the founder of Gabii Clothing. As much as I want to go into the exciting details of what Gabii Clothing is, I’ll start off by giving you snapshots of my story prior to Gabii so that you can have a better understanding of why I do what I do.
I was born and raised in Ethiopia and later moved to Canada in 2014 with my mom and siblings. I graduated from high school in Ethiopia and attended University for one semester prior to boarding that memorable flight that would bring us to a whole new chapter of life. My new life in Canada entailed new opportunities but it also meant that I had to start from scratch. I ended up enrolling in adult high school for a year and got my Canadian High School Diploma. I was finally eligible to join university so enrolled in the Business faculty at the University of Winnipeg (currently studying economics) and that was the initial phase of my new life. On the second day of our arrival to Canada, my dad sat me and my singing down. He gave us one of the best advices I’ve ever received from him and one that I will never forget.
He shared with us a saying in Amharic that I grew up hearing and it goes like this “feresum, medawem yaw” (“here is a horse and a field, it’s now yours and it’s your choice to ride or not ride the horse”), My father was telling us in that moment that we were in a place where we had the opportunity to be or do what ever we wanted and that we could either use or loose it depending on our actions!
What my dad said to us that day has been helping me open my eyes to see all the resources that are awaiting for me to grab and use effectively. I believe there are so many ideas within all of us that would be solutions for ourselves and others but it’s our responsibility to give life to them! I’m not at a point where I can say I’m using all the resources available to me but my goal is to be able to live in a way that I can confidently say I’m doing so! The same saying also keeps reminding me to never put myself in a box. When we think about riding a horse, we have an image of a large field in our mind. The reality is that we really don’t want to go too far and get lost and hurt on the first day but what needs to happen is that we shouldn’t stay in our state of fear too long. We have to push ourselves beyond our fear and comfort so that we can explore the rest of the field. I am always reminding myself to think BIGGER and be LIMITLESS in doing so. I know it will take time and it should but for me growing and expanding is one of my priorities.
Now let’s talk a little bit about Gabii Clothing the clothing line that I started. Gabii was founded in summer of 2017. The name Gabii is inspired by the traditional Ethiopian hand-woven throw. People ask me why I chose the name Gabii instead of Netela or something else and I always have the same answer when I explain. Gabii is something you won’t fail to find in almost every Ethiopian households, something we take wherever we go. It’s worn by people in the East, West, North, South and Central Ethiopia. It’s something our moms don’t allow us to wear as it’s more precious than any other throw and they will only bring it out when they have a special guest over. Gabi is a traditional treasure and that is why I named my brand after it.
Gabii is a clothing brand that promotes the diverse Ethiopian culture through modernized traditional clothing. We thrive to design and create contemporary clothes that can be worn on a daily basis without changing the authenticity of the tradition.
The initial goal of Gabii was to build a platform for designers in Ethiopia to sell and showcase their traditional modern clothing to the rest of the world but we’re currently focusing on promoting only Gabii brand clothing.
The reason I decided to create this brand is because I was born and raised in a part of Ethiopia that gave me a chance to experience different cultures, different food, languages, dances and clothing’s. Majority of my teen years were spent in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. While I was in Addis I would always hear people generalizing the people of Ethiopia as one. Don’t get me wrong, I know we are united but we certainly can’t deny that we are different as well!
We have to accept and celebrate our differences as those are the very things that make us the unique country we are. The celebration of our unity in diversity is one of the biggest inspiration behind Gabii clothing. That’s what Gabii strives to represent and promote. Beyond this, we also encourage and support fair trade and eco friendly products that sustains workers abroad…this is a value that is at the core of what we do at Gabii. We want to create awareness and give an alternative option for consumers who want to make a difference in the world with their purchases.
Starting Gabii clothing wasn’t easy at all as I had choices and decisions to make every step of the way. I can give you examples of tons of challenges I face as a startup however, asking myself the following questions helps me stay focused. I ask myself if I should use my saving and time to create something that will pay off in the future or wait until I get all the resources and ideas figured out before I make a move. The answer for me has been to use the resources I have right now to give my ideas life and it’s working out so far so.
My advice to anyone who wants to use their talents or ideas to make a difference in their life or the lives of others is that they should start with what they have! We all have something to start with, the resources you have might not seem like they’re enough but TAKE THE LEAP anyways and START with the little you have!