ITW Amahle

Amahlé means ‘those who are beautiful’ in Zulu language. Amahlé is an ethical fashion brand inspired by African arts and crafts. Amahlé is a journey: each collection is thought as an invitation to travel and to discover a new African tribe.

We met with the founders in Paris for a small interview to share more about who is behind the brand and their love for handicrafts and Africa.

Who is behind the Brand Amahle?

Amahlé was created by Chloé and Carole, two French friends passionate about fashion, handicrafts and travels.

 Please tell us more about you. What is your Background?

Both of us are graduated from Business Schools in Paris. We have been working in the same consulting firm for four years as strategy and management consultants. This is how we met in 2010! We established a strong friendship since then.

Chloé is a passionate traveler and a fan of handicraft. She discovered South Africa in 2010 thanks to an academic exchange with the university of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg) and she fell in love with Southern Africa.

Carole wanted to create her own company since a long time.

In 2015, we decided that we would work with African crafters in order to create a brand that will merge ethics and style.

In October 2015, we travelled through South Africa during one month and we meet lot of crafters and organizations. We found two associations in the KwaZulu-Natal region. We started to work together. The crafters made the first jewels and then Amahlé was born…

 Where does the name Amahle come from?

“Amahlé” is a Zulu expression which means “those who are beautiful”.

When did you get the idea to create Amahle?

In 2010, Chloé went on a journey in South Africa and fell in love with its culture and arts. Five years later, we realised how African arts and crafts were poorly known especially in western society. It is our admiration for their bead-weaving technique and our will to highlight their arts, which encouraged us in creating Amahlé.

How did you create the Brand?

In 2015, we decided that we would work with African crafters. Thus, we travelled through South Africa for a month and found two associations of crafters with whom we decided to work. We created our brand around three pillars. The first one is Africa, through the inspiration that we find in African culture and through our products based on African know-how. The second pillar is the human aspect. Indeed, we share values (such as respect and sharing) and we evolve in the respect of the crafters’ work. The last pillar is the beauty, the aesthetic: through ethnic and elegant colours and patterns we want to sublimate the women who wear our jewels.

If we ask you why Jewellery, what would you say?

One of the reason we wanted to create Amahlé was to show the South African “savoir faire” and creativeness to the world.

Jewellery naturally came to our mind as the most evident way to do so.

Chloé had brought back beaded bracelets from her exchange in South Africa. We wanted first to create something based on South African beadwork. Furthermore, we were aware of the growth of the ethnic chic trend in fashion jewellery in Europe. But jewellery is only a first step… We plan on expending our activity through brand new ranges of product, but we can’t tell more at the moment!

Where do you make your jewellery?

The beadwork is made in the KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, using traditional techniques. However, the elaboration of the design and the finishes are handmade in Paris.

 What is the identity of Amahle?

Amahlé’s identity evolves around values such as respect, trust and open-mindedness. The whole concept of the brand is a confrontation between style and ethics. In other words, Amahlé is a stylish and ethical journey through Africa.

 How would you position your Brand?

Our brand position itself between African and European knowledges. We like to qualify our style with the words ethnic, chic and ethical. We create jewels inspired by African culture and we add quality finishes, sophistication and a French-style touch. Furthermore, our brand is based on a model of unique manufacturing as our partners are associations of crafters, and we are careful about our social impact.

 Do you plan to expend the “Amahle concept” in another village or other country in Africa? 

We do plan on working in another African country. Actually, we are currently in relation with crafters in Swaziland in order to work with them in the future. So, stay tuned because there might be some news soon!

 What are your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?

The life of an entrepreneur is full of challenges. However, the biggest one is probably to find funds (especially in traditional sectors such as the fashion industry). To start a business in the fashion industry, you need some money and some time. It can take years to build the brand awareness and you must be prepared.

 Any tips or recommendation you would share with new entrepreneurs?

An entrepreneur must have more than one string to his bow, but it is not easy to master all the fields needed to run a business. Which is why an entrepreneur has to surround himself with people who will bring him skills and experience in different fields. You have to recognize your weakness and mitigate it thanks to your relations.

 Are there any brands you would recommend worth checking?

There are a lot of brands which inspire us such as Ba&sh, Sessùn and Veja. There are also lots of new creators around us that are inspiring through their products and their approaches. We can quote:

-Paulette & Simone, 2 friends of us who design bags with amazing patterns and colors in Paris and

-Inaden who works with crafters in Ethiopia for instance.