【2024】Spice it up! Live it up!

Happy New Year. I am Hiromi Samejima, the representative and designer of andu amet, writing to you from Ethiopia. The tumultuous year of 2023 year has come to an end, and we are embracing the refreshing feelings as we welcome the 2024.      

In truth, the past year has been exceptionally challenging for andu amet, based in Ethiopia. Following a two-year internal conflict between the government and northern rebel forces, which briefly brought relief, a new conflict with militia groups in the northwest began, keeping the country in a continued state of instability.

Due to the prioritization of foreign currency for weapons and ammunition, domestic industries, including ours, have been left without allocations. For over two years, we have been unable to source the leather, our raw material, as we require imported chemicals for tanning, which are not possible to import without foreign currency allocation to the industry.

With an inflation rate of 30-50%, skyrocketing factory rents, labor costs, and leather prices over the past 2-3 years, along with worsening security conditions, many leather-related companies have closed or withdrawn. However, we have chosen to take every possible step to survive.

At the beginning of 2023, we relocated our workshop to the relatively safer and more affordable suburbs. The company covered the moving expenses, and it was a significant move involving all artisans. Around the same time, we transitioned to a new production system that we had been preparing for a long time, significantly improving productivity and quality.

We also collaborated on developing leather that doesn't rely on tanneries and foreign chemicals and created products using recycled leather scraps.

On the Japanese side, we significantly increased the number of pop-up stores and events, achieving unexpected results nationwide. Obtaining international B-Corp certification and our sincere commitment to sustainability initiatives were likely contributing factors. We also ventured into new business development.

Despite the chaotic daily life, lunchtime gatherings around the table with the staff have been enjoyable moments to take a breath. In Ethiopia, we enjoy placing various stews on thin, fermented crepe-like bread. The abundant use of spices creates a remarkably deep flavor.

Both business and life resemble a dish of Ethiopian cuisine. The truly exquisite combination of various spices results in unforgettable flavors, ranging from subtle to spicy and profound.

In 2024, amid various challenges, we aim to enjoy a life with just the right amount (!?) of spice and continue delivering beautifully stimulating products to you all. Thank you for your continued support this year.

Designer of andu amet, Hiromi Samejima