Artisan Feature: Bole Road Textiles
Hana Getachew understands and relishes the balancing act in creating her modern geometric designs with showcasing the artistry of Ethiopian weaving. Born in Addis Adaba and raised in New York via Montreal, the Bolé Road Textiles founder's work is an homage to the cultural inheritance of living in a home filled with stunning traditional textiles. First inspired by a college trip back to the city of her birth and then honing her aesthetic as an interior designer at a New York City architecture firm, Hana brought her dream to life when she launched her design studio in 2015. Sourcing entirely from Ethiopian cotton and working exclusively with local artisan collectives, Bolé Road produces luxe, refined home accents using traditional handwoven techniques. We were able to briefly chat with Hana to talk about her journey, how all of her design influences shine through her work, and the beauty of working with artisans from her home country.
You began your career at an architecture firm before founding Bolé Road Textiles. Was there a moment of inspiration that led you to that transition?
Yes, definitely! I was at the office when my coworker told me that her friend just quit her job to work full-time on her pillow business. That was the spark, and I decided then and there that that's what I wanted to do. It was also a gradual transition in that the seed for doing something in Ethiopia was planted when I took my first trip back during college. The idea had been percolating since. I was inspired by the maker movement that started around 2008, by the time I heard my coworker in 2011, that was it. But it took me a long time to actually take the leap, which didn't happen until 2015.
Do you feel that architecture firm experience influenced your textile designs, and does it still reveal itself in your work today?
I do, I think working at any design firm is a sort of training. I learned from my design directors what worked and what didn't. I was also given a lot of freedom to explore my own design sensibilities. The combination of those two things helped me to cultivate the aesthetic of Bolé Road.
We love the story behind the brand name, could you talk a little about how you decided on Bolé Road?
Naming a brand is an excruciating process! I knew I didn't want to use my name because I felt that I was trying to capture something larger than my personal experience. I also wanted the name to be relatable and to signify a journey and travel. So, I came up with Bolé Road.
Bole was the neighborhood my family and I lived in, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It's also where the international airport is located. So anyone that has been to Ethiopia knows Bole Road. I like to say I took two of the most important journeys of my life on Bole Road, the first when I left Ethiopia when I was three and then almost twenty years later when I made my first trip back.
The brand is both a celebration of your roots and an homage to the rich history of Ethiopian weaving traditions—do you feel any pressure to telling that story, or is it liberating in a sense?
I feel no pressure! Sharing stories of Ethiopia has literally been my default mode since childhood. It's one of my favorite parts of what I do.
Could you speak about how partnering with local Ethiopian weaving collectives and women-owned businesses is central to your brand?
I love the fact that I get to create beautiful textiles with talented artisans from my home country and also share the intricacy of Ethiopian artistry. People are often surprised when I tell them I only source from Ethiopia. It's a risky thing to do as a business owner, but it's the reason why I started my business.
Bolé Road is also a distinctly New York City brand, how do you feel the city has influenced your work?
Between working in NYC and living in Brooklyn and being inspired by Addis Ababa, I think there is a boldness and vibrancy to my work that is certainly influenced by these cities.
We love the vibrancy, both in color and pattern, of your designs. How would you describe your creative process and knowing when to push the boundaries for your original pieces?
I am always moved to push the boundaries! I think this comes from my love of traditional Ethiopian textiles, which are so intricate, colorful, and decadent. I love trying to capture the exuberance of traditional textiles, as well as my excitement I feel when seeing these pieces.
What is one thing you want all of your customers to know about your goods?
There is a lot of love and a lot of care that goes into the conceiving and producing of all of our pieces. From the joy I feel whenever I design a new collection to the care the artisans take when warping a new loom to the final packaging, it's all done with love and care.
Are there any care instructions your customers should know?
The trick is no high heat. You can wash and dry the pieces as needed (I recommend a delicate cycle). But the key to maintaining their appearance is to use low heat—though you can iron as needed at any temperature. If the fabric starts to pill, I recommend using the Gleener fabric comb, it'll be good as new.
What’s next for you and Bolé Road Textiles? (We honestly can’t wait!)
Our new collection will be launching next year! I can't wait either, it's going to be super vibrant!