Initially the prospect of developing a handbag line in Africa seemed daunting, but that became Afomia Tesfaye’s motivation in creating FOMI. In early 2011, she made the decision to leave Los Angeles to travel back to her native homeland of Ethiopia with the intention of designing a collection of accessories. After researching the country’s indigenous resources, she discovered a little known fact, that Ethiopia produces some of the world’s finest quality leather. Undeterred by the fact that she had no formal design training, she soon completed a collection of colorful yet sophisticated leather handbags.
Athough FOMI represents Afomia’s first venture into design, fashion has always played an integral role in her life. She led an unconventional childhood, as her father’s position as a diplomat to England, and then later to the United States, would entail that her family relocate every few years. From an early age, this exposure to diversity through travel enabled her to cultivate her own interests in style and fashion. While earning a degree in English Literature from UCLA, she held internships in the West Coast editorial offices of both Elle magazine and Women’s Wear Daily. For several years to follow, she would go on to further hone her skills in the apparel industry by holding positions at several notable sportswear companies, including Triple Five Soul and Juicy Couture.
In 2014, the company expanded its product range to include women’s footwear. FOMI handbags and shoes are a testament to the fact that it is possible for fashion companies to ethically produce luxury goods in Africa, without compromising on quality and craftsmanship. Afomia believes that the fashion manufacturing industry could prove to be a vital economic sector for Africa. It is her hope that other companies will recognize this potential and explore the possibilities that exist there.