Creative Women is known for their quality designs, hand-woven
textiles, and improving lives. In 2003, Ellen Dorsch founded Creative
Women, a wholesale business that works with more than eight female-run
enterprises primarily in Africa and now Afghanistan. This Vermont-based
company creates beautiful traditionally inspired contemporary
accessories and home textiles.
Creative Women combines traditional with modern, and cotton with high
quality silks, while creating a chic collection of table runners,
scarves, shawls, pillows, and blankets.
One of the women-run companies Creative Women works closely with is
Sabahar, located in the heart of Ethiopia. The name has an interesting
derivative, as “Saba” was the name of the famous queen in Ethiopia and
“har” means silk. It was founded with a mission to create incomes for
vulnerable households and skilled artisans. They produce some of the
finest cottons and silks, highlighting the beauty of Ethiopian textiles.
Sabahar was one of the first enterprises to work with rural farmers,
helping to revive the ancient art of silk production in Ethiopia. Silk
is actually new to this country and in the past ten years it has made an
impact on many poor households by diversifying the crops that they are
dependent on for survival. It is a fascinating fiber. The eri silkworms
begin as tiny eggs that grow into two-inch worms. These worms feed on
castor leaves, which grow wild and are also cultivated. The cocoons are
then boiled with soap and water and set to dry. As the fiber gets loose,
it is ready to be spun by hand.
All of Sabahar’s silk is dyed using 100 percent natural and locally
sourced dyes such as coffee, meskel flowers and cochineal insects. Ellen
explains, “In the dying house, you'll see pots of herbs and flowers,
bubbling on top of propane burners. The low-impact dyes used to color
the cotton products also bubble next to the natural dyes and provide a
more fade-proof coloring agent for the cotton towels, tablecloths,
napkins and blankets.”
Ethiopia has also been known for centuries as one of the top
manufacturers of handspun cotton in the world. The women have a long
tradition of spinning cotton and continue to do so by using drop
spindles. They are responsible for gathering cotton that is grown in the
Rift Valley lowlands, and then carry large loads on their heads
while climbing steep mountainous terrain. A woman’s ability to spin very
fine and consistent cotton could also greatly influence her marriage
prospects. Additionally, these spinning skills have a significant
economic impact as most rural and urban women continue to spin at home
for an extra income.
With tradition in mind and the people in their hearts, these
companies work together, creating some of the finest Ethiopian textiles.
To purchase any of Creative Women’s products please visit the sites
By Annie Waterman, Hand & Eye Magazine, May 2011
Today beautiful textiles produced by Creative Women are featured in numerous fashion and home decor magazines and sold in exclusive boutiques across the country.
Lonny Magazine, Holiday Shopping Gif Guide, Dec 2011 features handmade cotton dots blanket made in Ethiopia.
as well as a beautiful off white Ethiopian table runner.