By Chris HerhaltMay 11, 2019 4:38pmMay 11th is Meraki Day, the day of Meraki, a handmade goods brand from Ethiopia that started life in the United States in 2008.
Meraki has grown into a major brand in its native country, selling clothing, toys, and even a few products that were never available in the US.
It has expanded from a one-person operation to a three-person crew in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
In addition to the goods, Meraki also provides services like marketing, training, and support for local businesses.
“Meraki has always been about the people,” says Nils Fritsch, Merki’s cofounder and managing director.
“They’ve always been here for the customers, and now, they are the people here.”
“Merki’s brand is about creating a positive change for people and communities,” says Fritsch.
“We are making it so people feel good, feel connected, feel safe, and feel empowered.
And that’s what we’re doing every day.”
Meraki was founded by Nils, a former engineer at a multinational corporation.
Nils says he was inspired by the success of Ethiopia’s fast-growing garment industry, which was in a state of decline due to economic and environmental crises.
“I thought that I could help by creating a sustainable and ethical business,” he says.
The two began working together and started to build a sustainable brand that could be replicated by any country in the world.
Nils and Fritsesch started to think about the next step.
They had a few options: build a manufacturing operation in Ethiopia or, like most entrepreneurs, start their own business.
“If we could have the resources to be able to do it ourselves, we were interested in that,” says Rania Bekr, a Meraki cofounder.
They chose Ethiopia, which they believed was in the best position to offer a better working environment and higher-quality product, as well as more space for training.
The two chose Ethiopia for its ability to produce clothes that could last for decades and its natural environment, which allowed them to start with the factory in the country’s capital, but they decided to go to the US first.
The decision was partly driven by the two men’s shared love of Ethiopia and their desire to help its textile industry grow.
They were able to open a factory in Ethiopia in 2009, and the first batch of clothing, which consisted of shirts, shorts, and pants, was sold out within two weeks.
They worked hard to build up the factory, making sure it was able to produce the product on time.
“Meraki is not a factory,” says Bekrs.
“It is a brand.
We don’t need to have the same processes and the same things in the same building.
We have to keep it in the spirit of Merki.”
The two now have six factories in Ethiopia and are planning to open another one in Addis.
“That factory is not just going to be a factory, it’s going to become a factory of Meriks,” says Hani Abdel, a senior partner at Meraki.
“So the way we do business, we want to make sure that everything we do is about the customers and the environment.
We are not going to use the money we make from our products to do things that harm the environment.”
Merikis focus on customer service and a social responsibility ethos have paid off, and it’s made Meraki a top seller in the U.S. The brand has seen more than $40 million in revenue in the last three years, with the majority of its revenue coming from the United Kingdom.
Meraki also is growing in other countries.
In the United Arab Emirates, Merakis brand has become the best-selling textile brand in the Middle East, and in Canada, the brand has grown by more than 30% each year.
In 2020, Merkis revenue in Canada totaled $9.4 million.
“Our customers come to us because we want them to feel good about themselves and they want to be respected and valued,” says Abdel.
“The way we’re selling Meraki clothes is that we’re making them feel comfortable, confident, and that they have a place in society.”
As a brand, Merikis focuses on creating positive change and building a sustainable community.
It also takes pride in being a “world leader in sustainable and sustainable living.”
Meraki is committed to sourcing products from places where they are safe and accessible to people living in poverty.
Merikys clothing and accessories are produced from sustainable methods.
The brand also believes in creating jobs and creating economic opportunities for people in low- and middle-income countries.
“Our business model is to help people build the most beautiful lives possible,” says the brand’s founder.
“To help them feel safe and empowered, to be proud of their culture and to be