On The Job:
What does your job entail? What happens in your average day at work?
Dereje: I'm the production manager – first thing in the morning, I make priorities for the day. I have to check on orders, samples, or stock on the US side that needs to be replenished. I also do quality checks during the making process and at the end, but that’s something I am training team leaders on how to do, in case I'm not around.
Saleamlak: I'm one of the cutting team leaders. The first thing I do is change into my clothes, then get my team started on the day's tasks and get the leathers needed from storage. I’m also the one responsible for turning in daily reports on what was completed and any challenges that we may have faced.
What is your favorite thing about working for Parker Clay?
Dereje: For one, it makes me really happy that I get to work with women who are changing their lives and really need this job.
Saleamlak: Our relationship with one another – we are like family.
What does working in sustainable fashion mean to you?
Dereje: It’s a huge deal, it’s hard to even express how huge it is. Anything that’s sustainable is better for everyone involved, and me being able to work in it is even better. I wish that everyone can someday work in a sustainable workplace.
Saleamlak: It’s a huge opportunity, being able to walk in not knowing anything and have the opportunity to train on the job. From the beginning, the company helps you develop and grow and that for me is a great opportunity.
What is your favorite Parker Clay product?
Dereje: To own, I would choose the Mari, even though it’s made for women, or the Atlas – both in Rust Brown. For my wife, I would choose the Eden in Rust Brown or Dark Brown. But to look at? Once it's completed, the Montecito Briefcase is just beautiful.
Saleamlak: I could never choose! I could see myself carrying the Atlas, it looks nice and you can carry a lot in it. Also I’ve seen Kibreab (our GM) carrying it and it looks nice.
What is your favorite food or drink?
Dereje: My favorite food would be tibs and to drink I like Sprite.
Saleamlak: My favorite food is shiro, it may be because I grew up in the rural parts of Gonder. My favorite drink is milk for sure. I remember eating shiro and then getting milk once I finished eating.
What do you like to do during your free time?
Dereje: Well, since everyone will say spending time with family, I'll say I also love going to church and reading spiritual books.
Saleamlak: During my spare time I love spending time with my family (laughs). My parents are still in Gonder, so I took some time off from work to show my wife my hometown.
What is your favorite day of the year?
Dereje: Can I choose two? I like Easter and Christmas, they’re honestly my favorite holidays because they are both so spiritual to me.
Saleamlak: Epiphany – there’s a saying that “nothing like epiphany in Gonder". (Ephiphany, or Timkat, is a massive celebration in Ethiopia, honoring the baptism of Jesus).
If you had to leave Ethiopia, what would you miss the most?
Dereje: I have family and friends who live in both Europe and the States, and I had opportunities to move, but I've never wanted to. I would really miss the culture.
Saleamlak: The weather! Luckily the weather I grew up with in Gonder and that of Addis is pretty similar.
Saleamlak, tell us about your baby boy!
Saleamlak: Abel – he's 6 months old! I love kids, I don't even know where to begin with my joy of being a father. When my wife, who I met here at the factory of course, told me she was pregnant I was so excited.
More on the way?
Saleamlak: In this day and age? (laughs). I grew up with 2 sisters and 3 brothers… we'll see.
Dereje, what's the most important lesson your father taught you?
Dereje: One thing I’m grateful that my father instilled in me is discipline. I had boundaries and barriers and I like that he taught me that.
And now how do you feel about raising a son yourself?
Dereje: It’s a huge responsibility being a father, but I'm really lucky to be one. When I found out that my wife was pregnant I didn’t even feel like it was my doing. It was the work of God, not me! So I named him Yodahay, which means "God knows".
Learn more about the impact behind Parker Clay -- Better Bags For a Better World