Rahel Zemuye combines Eritrean fabrics with European styles

Rahel Zemuye can hardly remember her arrival to Germany many years ago. She was too small when she escaped the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia with her single mother and her two siblings – but what she remembers is that Eritrean culture has always been part of her life in Germany. The young fashion designer from Frankfurt grew up in a very traditional household and her mother always insisted that everyone wore Eritrean clothes on birthdays and special celebrations.

“Due to my mum I got to know Eritrean fabrics, designs and traditional fashion. I fell in love with the colors and the structures”

On her 18th birthday, she was given her first sewing machine and began to use her mother’s traditional fabrics to sew clothes which were more in line with European cuts and her sense of style and fashion. Rahel finished school and knew that she wanted to study design and be able to start her own fashion label one day.

She moved to Mannheim to study at a private fashion school and to follow her dream. During her graduation she began to design her first own fashion collection and realized that East African fashion is almost not represented at all in the fashion world.

“When one speaks of Africa in the world of fashion, it is usually only West African clothing that is meant. But Africa has so much more diversity: I wanted to represent the East African fashion with my collections.”

Rahel published her graduate collection on Instagram and noticed that many women, especially with African roots, wanted to buy her clothes and had been looking desperately for a style like that. Rahel combines traditional Eritrean fabrics and laces with a more modern cut and a European fashion sense. Her clothes bridge the gap between Eritrean traditions and European trends.

“From that point on I knew that my idea was great and that more people were looking for something like that.  I needed to get this business going and to find a way to finance the production of my first collection”

When Rahel started her fashion label “ZEMUYE” she quickly realized how difficult it can be to become and entrepreneur. There was so much more to do than just designing and sewing clothes. Rahel looked out for organizations and got coaching and support in the entrepreneurial program “Youth Business Germany”. With the help of her coach, her mentor and the network she finished her business plan and got a bank credit to finance her production.

“My biggest worry was the financing of my business. I had no savings, no credit history and I am very young. Having support by an organization that helps you with bureaucratic hurdles, to write a business plan and to contact the right banks was great”

Rahel is about to launch her online shop and she is beyond excited for what’s to come. She does not regret her decision to become an entrepreneur because it gives her the freedom to create and realize her own ideas and visions.

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This website is part of the project Network for Migrant Entrepreneurs to Scale Up and Grow — EMEN-UP (no. 764398) which has received funding from the European Union’s COSME Programme (2014-2020)

The Network for Migrant Entrepreneurs to Scale Up and Grow

This website is part of the project Network for Migrant Entrepreneurs to Scale Up and Grow — EMEN-UP (no. 764398) which has received funding from the European Union’s COSME Programme (2014-2020)

The Network for Migrant Entrepreneurs to Scale Up and Grow

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