Hana Getachew, the Founder of Bolé Road Textiles, Weaves Her Ethiopian Heritage Into Her Custom Fabrics

These high-end home goods feature everything from bold colors and clean lines to muted tones, and are reminiscent of traditional design.

portrait of bole road textiles founder hana getachew
Photo: Courtesy of Bolé Road Textiles

Have you ever wondered how to turn your dreams of owning your own business into a reality? We can help. Each week, as part of our Self Made series, we showcase female entrepreneurs-as well as their quality, handmade goods-and share their best advice related to starting, maintaining, and growing your own business.

Bolé Road Textiles was born out of two trips taken by the home goods shop's founder, Hana Getachew. "I was born in Ethiopia and lived there until I was three, and Bolé was the neighborhood where my parents and I lived. There's this main road, called Bolé Road, and anyone who's ever been to Ethiopia knows that it is your entry point to Addis [Ababa]," the founder says. "I like to say that I took two big trips on Bolé Road: The first when I left the country and departed and the second when I took my first visit back when I was in college." She credits the trip back as a true turning point in her life; it connected her to her Ethiopian roots. As she started her journey within the interior design world, her background eventually became the heart of her shop, which is filled with handwoven textiles that speak to her heritage.

Bolé Road Textiles pink pillows
Courtesy of Bolé Road Textiles / Allyson Lubow

Creating the Business

Getachew worked as an interior designer at an architecture firm for over a decade, but she started thinking about how to take her passion for textiles to the marketplace in 2008. The economic recession forced many workers, particularly those in the creative space, to create their own opportunities, she noticed. She watched colleague after colleague take their business ventures full-time, and kept her dream of becoming an entrepreneur in the back of her mind for years. She officially left her firm in 2014 and launched her own business the following year. "I grew up loving Ethiopian textiles and I really had a calling design-wise and felt pulled to work with traditional designs and make them modern with interiors," she says.

She pulled from her own experiences in the corporate world to make her New York-based business a success. "When I had my studio in Brooklyn, people would come in and I would literally provide them with interior design services while they were looking for pieces," she explains. She even consulted at a different architecture firm while getting her textile business off the ground. "That experience was super helpful, because it was the first time I worked inside a really small business. I got a lot of practical knowledge about project management software, like having a server that was affordable and simple to use, so it really helped to be dialed in to the industry—there is some benefit to learning from a more commercial or more corporate background."

Bolé Road Textiles Pillow Pile
Courtesy of Bolé Road Textiles / Tara Striano.

Showcasing Craftsmanship

The entrepreneur returned to Ethiopia with a binder full of designs and sketches and talked with local artisans and collectives who she hoped would make the textiles. She didn't get many yeses at first, but once she did, those creatives remained close collaborators. "Whoever I worked with and showed the most kindness, interest, and openness are the same ones I work with today because how a relationship starts is a big indicator for how it will continue," Getachew says. The textiles currently in her shop offer everything from bold colors and clean lines to muted tones, like the Bana "Cerise" Rug ($155, boleroadtextiles.com) and the Bolé "Onyx" Pillow and Throw Combo ($365, boleroadtextiles.com). She saw a hole in the market for skillfully crafted, modern pieces inspired by Ethiopian designs, which became her focus for her brand. "I really wanted the opportunity to explore that and to bring Ethiopian craftsmanship to a broader audience because it does have a rich tradition in handweaving," she adds. "The kind of work and artistry that's there is usually created for traditional dresses. It's amazing and I wanted to be able to translate that into the world of high-end home décor."

Cultivating an Audience

No matter the business you create, make sure you have a target audience in mind, offers Getachew. She garnered hers by going to in-person events, like pop-up shops and craft fairs. "I learned that I have an audience, even though I didn't sell a ton at any particular show," she explains, noting that her customers' reactions made all the difference at the time. "People's comments about the work and the product gave me the motivation to keep going. In those early days where you don't know if your business is going to make it or not, you need momentum and perseverance." While part of the process is believing in your vision, positive feedback can help your business continue to go the distance. "You have to love what you're doing and your product and you have to find an audience who loves what you're doing and loves your product," she adds. "It has to be that mutual exchange and I found that at the shows."

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