INTERVIEW: Mahlet Yohannes launched Silks of Sheba to celebrate her African heritage

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Mahlet Yohannes is the founder of the lifestyle brand, Silks of Sheba. She is an up-and-coming entrepreneur with a career background in aviation & hospitality industry.

Silks of Sheba is influenced by Mahlet’s many years of traveling across the world. “I immersed myself in the different cultures, languages, and experiences that I encountered throughout my career. In the past 10+ years, I have been lucky enough to visit more than 70 countries. This has been a wonderful way to see the world and become immersed in the design community” says Mahlet. She launched Silks of Sheba to celebrate her African heritage while empowering local artisan communities and supporting nonprofit charities that build water wells in rural Africa.

Silks of Sheba is a line that reflects an effortless sense of style that upholds the dynamic heritage and cultural background of Africa. As a completely female-driven company, she aims to contribute and support women. Women from all walks of life inspire her daily and wants to create stylish, diverse accessories suitable for versatile lifestyles. The scarves are a wearable work of art. Mahlet works closely with female artisans who each will design a limited edition, full of colorful metaphors, and each silk scarves has a story to tell.

Mahlet is a strong advocate for universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water set out by the U.N sustainable development goals (SDGs). And in the spirit of women helping women, a percentage of the proceeds are marked for donation to a pre-selected nonprofit organization that builds affordable water wells in rural Africa. Mahlet’s goal is to help communities, especially women and young children have access to clean water.


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When did you first realize you wanted to launch your own fashion label?

While I was pregnant with my son, Malachi. I worked my whole life after college and life was about to change 360% as a new mother. I needed to create something of my own that will give me the flexibility of working from home and still be productive. I have always had a thing for silk, accessories and fashion in general, so I decided to start small by launching custom designed silk scarves.

Do you create as well customizable pieces? There is one creation, in particular, that is very important to you ?

All pieces are custom designed. yes, the Axum obelisk inspired scarf is special to me as Axum is a city where my father was born and historically a significant city.

How important is African culture to you and how your label can help more to improve your client’s acknowledgment regarding this?

Africa is home and where I was born. My passion is to create a brand that amplifies the vibrant and rich culture of Africa. Through our brand, we want to create and elevate African inspired luxury brand internationally. we aim to promote what Africa has to offer through our products and at the same time ensure the continuity of Africa’s rich legacy and portraying the authentic narrative of our continent and re-shaping the landscape of future creative entrepreneurs.

If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your carrier what would it be?

Take time to know what you want before pursue anything. Do what you love.

How do you want your clients to feel when wearing a your label pieces and in what occasions can be worn?

I want the women who wears our scarves to feel elegant. It can be worn at any occasion in different style. our silk scarves are the perfect print and soft texture that can transform and ensemble adding a bit of vintage-inspired sophistication and detail.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for a creative in our society today?

Lack of opportunity for up and coming creatives, access to funding and lack of resources like latest technologies in the creative industry.

There is one important person, in your life, who pushes and motivates you to believe in yourself?

Yes, my late father and my husband.

Describe us you as a creative in your personal life and how your feelings influence the creativity process?

I am inspired by nature, culture and people. I have travelled more than 70 countries in the world for the last 12 years in my aviation career. my creative life is influenced directly by what I was able to see and feel through out my careers.

Would you like to involve other creatives in your future projects and what do you think is the main mission of the CO-BRANDING concept?

Yes, I work with women creatives, co-branding is an excellent way for marketing strategy, it creates a strategic alliance and create brand awareness.

What is the slogan of your label?

Designed by women for women.

What are the next steps for your label, in order to grow up more?

We are looking into adding a clothing line and bags for our next collection and looking into eco friendly sustainable products as consumers are now being conscious about the
product they spend their money on .