By Aklile Tsige/ABN/
Born and grew up in Wolaita Soddo, southern Ethiopia, the 36-year-old doctor Senait Mario has been working as professional fashion designer and model for long period of time. She has also worked with international brands such as 3D Modeling Agency andAttunda ModellingAgency.ABN Editor-in-Chief Aklile Tsige meets Senait via email, and presents 10 questions which she reacts with.
Q1.How did you begin the fashion designing and modeling profession?
Senait:My modeling career was the base to start my designing;my talent was discovered in Nairobi Kenya, Scouted by Liz ogumbo – an international top model and fashion designer who is the owner of Imani Modeling Agency of Nairobi; she simply saw me at the park of Westland and came over to me and asked if I wanted to model. I was with my friend and we thought it was weird.
But I took her business card and called the agency a week or two later and I was luckily accepted;I did a photoshoot that I have shown my friends, and their reactions were all the same: “You were born to be a model” and then I decided to start my modeling career; while modeling for various brands I had the idea of trying and creating something I thought could be promising. Then I started to teach my self how to design and make simple clothes for my self. That is how I have started to become a professional fashion designer.
Q 2.Who are the organizations and people you are working with ?
Senait: In my career, I have been lucky to work with amazing people. Right now i am working with various Italian designers and modeling agencies to mention some Miss Tre’s Chic of Maria Luisa, Mr. Spose, 3D modeling agency of Cape town (South Africa ) and Attunda Modelling Agency of Lagos- Nigeria.
I also work with different Regional and zonal Administrators as well as governmental offices in Ethiopia so as to promote the indigenous culture of various communities.
I like to promote the hidden talents or up commers who didn’t get a chance to exhibit themselves to the international market because of lack of access; so no matter how big or small, I work with all sorts of people.
Q3. what are your professional a achievements ?
Senait: my achievement in the fashion industry is to promote our Ethiopian traditional clothes worldwide and I now have a roster of amazingly, and extremely talented international models and interested individuals who truly enjoy working with me. My achievement in the fashion industry is branding my talent (ONE PEACE FASHION ) and reaching the international community. My dream was to get access to those of top fashion stages like Milan, Paris, London and Newyork. I thank God that i have done it.so these are other achievements too. Being among one of the top 40 African women in the tourism industry -Ghana 2017, I have got honorary doctorate award in tourism in 2018 Nigeria, Best international fashion designer award in 2019 Ethiopia and several other awards.
I’m very happy with what i have achieved but sometimes I think I could have been more business minded earlier in my career.
Q4.where have you exhibited your show so far?
Senait:My frist exhibition was in Arbaminch, then wolayta soddo ,Addis Abeba Ghana ,Rome, Milan ,Paris and USA. Apart from exhibiting my brand I also do organize annual international events like African Day (may 25th ) in Rome, and I’ll be participating in Peace Festival-2nd edition -which is going to be held in Lagos. Nigeria on December 2019.
Q5. How do you evaluate the modeling and fashion design development in Ethiopia ?
Senait: Ethiopia’s fashion designing and modeling industry is not yet exploited; this is due to a shortage of elements which we face in the sector. Most foreign Designers stay up-dated by reading magazines, browsing the internet, attending fashion shows, and studying technical manuals. They study the history of fashion to better understand its development and current tendencies. we Ethiopian designer are lucky to have all those materials.
we donot have much modelling or fashion schools ,we donot have online marketing acces so that our products are limited and sold only with in a country. The other point is that our clothes are 100 % handmade and some of these beautiful garments may take months to be completed; this is not exactly following today’s fast-paced fashion world too.
“My dream is to work hard till “Made in Ethiopia” becomes a global brand ,and to see Ethiopia as fashion destination as Milan, New York, Paris, London and other big cities.”
Q6.Tell us what you have done for Ethiopia’s modeling and fashion design sector ?
Senait:While organizing fashion events ,the obstacles I got sometimes was very discouraging and would lead me to block my creativity, frustration and even depression. But overcoming these obstacles made me realize how strong I am.I continued promoting new face models and the culture of Ethiopia to the world. I brought also team work sprit, and bringing collaborations between the upcomming designers and professional designers,letting them share their experiences.
Q7. What are your short term plan?
Senait: my short term plan isto keep promoting the various Ethiopian costumes , scouting the Ethiopian models to an international agencies; to let them have an international apportunities and obviously organizing diferrent promotional fashion events by giving priority for the upcomming designers so as to help them penetrate in the market.
Q8. What about the long-term plan?
Senait:As my long term plan I would love to brand my work, building up “ ONE PEACE FASHION FACTORY “ and would like to produce number one made in Ethiopia products. I guess I will do this very soon though it is in my long term plan.
Q9. Have you ever participated in humanitarian activities ?
Senait:Yes, I have participated in various humaniterian activities like helping the needy ones; I have a big plan to do it permanentily in the near future. Infact, for the very little thing I have done I have got an award from DDEA – Washington DC in 2018 and it motivated me to keep going.
Q10.What is your dream for your country Ethiopia ?
Senait:I know in fashion industry “ the future is handmade” and my country Ethiopia has alot to offer for the rest of the world. So my dream is to work hard till “Made in Ethiopia” becomes a global brand ,and to see Ethiopia as fashion destination as Milan, New York, Paris, London and other big cities .
WE THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!