Staying true to one's self

by Zainab Ashadu


When I started blogging somewhat haphazardly in 2010, it was aimed to serve as a means of feeding the constant request for information about our bags, and the curiosity I encountered everywhere I went in Lagos, about this woman who was making bags but also juggling two full time jobs as Curator/Assistant Director, African Artists' Foundation and Head of PR, LagosPhoto Festival. I didn't expect the surge of interest I received from people around the world who didn't know me, or hadn't met me; I naively thought only those close to me would visit the blog, but it's not called the World Wide Web for nothing!

When I started to receive enquiries from collectors as far away as Russia, and Brazil, who were willing to (and who did) pay money into my private account, before receiving a bag, trusting that I would send it out, I decided to quit jobs I truly loved doing, and give Zashadu the respect and love she required. It has always been a dream of mine to create beautiful, timeless, hard-wearing handbags, I just didn't know other people would want them too, so it remained only a hobby for a long time.

I took to Instagram with ease, finding great pleasure in communicating with the powerful and very visual medium of photography, and for a long while it replaced a wordy blog, and probably will continue to do so, for the large part. But often times, and as the brand continues to grow, I have felt guilty, that I have neglected keeping up the blog, considering its vital role to our story.

So here I am again, wondering what details of the roller coaster ride that is living-a-fulfilled-life, to share with our encouraging, inspiring and loyal collectors? Whatever I decide to do, I must be true to myself, and share things that truly matter to me and my world view. 

Please enjoy the following pictures from recent events,

With love, Zainab x  

I was in Addis Ababa over the new year, with my significant other. I left Lagos exhausted, from a very busy season, and with pleasure because the ferocious harmattan was making up for its absence over the last 5 years. Needless to say, my skin was like a reptile's, my hair was like dried autumn leaves, and I was positively ashy with all the Saharan dust bathing me daily. Addis made Lagos seem like child's play. First, it was cold, like real brr kind of cold but of course I came with summer clothing, secondly Addis is mountainous with crazy altitude, with air drier than a bad joke, and my lungs let me know it. So if I appear a little stiff in this picture, understand that a cold, dry air was laughing at me. 

I was in Addis Ababa over the new year, with my significant other. I left Lagos exhausted, from a very busy season, and with pleasure because the ferocious harmattan was making up for its absence over the last 5 years. Needless to say, my skin was like a reptile's, my hair was like dried autumn leaves, and I was positively ashy with all the Saharan dust bathing me daily.

Addis made Lagos seem like child's play. First, it was cold, like real brr kind of cold but of course I came with summer clothing, secondly Addis is mountainous with crazy altitude, with air drier than a bad joke, and my lungs let me know it. So if I appear a little stiff in this picture, understand that a cold, dry air was laughing at me. 

However, the view from my hotel room gave me great pleasure

However, the view from my hotel room gave me great pleasure

That's a whole 5'11 me in between huge vats used to process leather, at the very impressive Institute for Leather Development in Addis Ababa. With a record number of cattle, Ethiopia exports the highest quantity of leather out of Africa. Their sheep and goat skins are of excellent quality too; I picked up some gorgeous examples. The Institute provides world-class training in all aspects to do with leather production and manufacturing. They have lofty aims, but I have no doubt that they will meet them, hard work and determination always pays off

That's a whole 5'11 me in between huge vats used to process leather, at the very impressive Institute for Leather Development in Addis Ababa. With a record number of cattle, Ethiopia exports the highest quantity of leather out of Africa. Their sheep and goat skins are of excellent quality too; I picked up some gorgeous examples. The Institute provides world-class training in all aspects to do with leather production and manufacturing. They have lofty aims, but I have no doubt that they will meet them, hard work and determination always pays off

At night, I visited one of the several Cultural Centres in the city and witnessed the splendid and energetic expressions of Ethiopian dance; at one point one of the dancers implored me to dance along, and with everyone at our table looking, I couldn't say no! I felt so silly, lol