Since adopting internationally, [my family] also embraced a new culture,” says Lisa Scott, owner of Second Life Ethiopian Artisans. “But never did I imagine how deeply this culture would impact me.” Scott immediately felt a deep connection with the female artisans of Ethiopia, drawn to their passion for craftsmanship and the exquisite quality and uniqueness of the products they make. Once just a treasurer of these hand-woven goods, Scott decided to make them accessible to a market that would value the merchandise and the story of how it came to them.
“I believe in the power of the product,” says Scott. “I don’t know many people that if they were given the opportunity to buy something that’s affordable, high-quality and could provide equitable employment for women, that they’d choose the bulk that’s manufactured in sweat shops.”
Scott is currently working with six female artists, many of which are single mothers marginalized from their communities and living with HIV. The products sold across North America will provide support for many of those vulnerable to poverty.
She boasts of her last visit to Ethiopia in March, saying she watched in awe as the women, sitting communally, intricately spun cotton and wove vibrant purples and greens into patterned scarves. Her fall collection, which launched online last week, features all hand-crafted jewellery, silks and leathers, naturally dyed in the likes of coffee, plants and flowers to soak in rich tones and earthy scents.
“Without sounding too corny, I do what I do for two reasons,” she says. “I’m very proud of these women and what they produce, they’re humble and talented. Also, I would love the consumer to be able to be invested in what they buy—from not only a socio-economic perspective, but an emotional one.”