Fasika Solomon: The Smooth Operator

Anyone who meets her even for a brief moment would notice her tranquil vibe. She possesses a grounded presence that radiates a sense of certitude and confidence. She came in to this world on the very day of Easter hence the name ‘Fasika’. Fasika Solomon is a young entrepreneur with already two (and counting) startups: Awra Studio & Anziboo. Awra Studio is Fasika’s first startup, a leather manufacturing that she founded and serves as the Creative Director. The latter one she co-founded is a company based in Kenya capitalizing on bamboo.

Fasika is the only child to her parents. She was born and raised in the heart of Addis. Her parents firmly believed in the value of good education and made sure she got one. Fasika reasons that most of her great qualities and character hailed from from the way she was raised: “I grew up knowing that my voice mattered, which made me feel heard and at the same time made me be vigilant in the way I use my words.”

Fasika undertook her primary and secondary level education at Dandi Boru School. Her father was her biggest fan and supporter. She inherited more than just his looks, her immense love for books and inclination toward art were also his. After her father’s passing, Fasika’s mother raised her as a single parent and made sure to continue raising a confident, self-aware, and self-reliant young woman. And boy, did she succeed!

Throughout her school years, Fasika was known for her remarkable grades and academic achievements. She attended the Addis Ababa University and majored in Architecture. In retrospect to why she may have inclined to Architecture, she recalls memeories from her childhood where she’d play with scraps of fabrics to make her own creations. “Our house accommodated a relevant attribute which has contributed to who I am today; a safe and open space of self-expression.” Fasika attests.

Almost immediately after graduation, Fasika secured a job as a junior Architect at a Chinese company called EDRI. She was initially assigned to the company’s branch office in Adama. After a short while, she was relocated to the headquarters office, China. Fasika stresses the one year she had spent working there was a ‘pivotal’ point in her life, where she got to re-define and live in practice concepts such as time-management, work-ethic, discipline, corporate culture, and leadership.

Her new work had matched her with a team that echoed the same passion and love for architecture in a matching beautifully ornated city. She searched for a matching stylish and authentic bag. But her searches for the perfect piece made from authentic leather that didn’t scare her pockets away were fruitless. The idea to try making one herself slowly downed on her. She took advantage of her first break to Addis to buy the necessary raw materials. After returning to China, she began experimenting in her plenty of spare time. YouTube’s handful tutorials showed her the ins and outs of the art. After a number of attempts, she finalized her first ever bag made entirely by her. Fasika was satisfied; she saw herself in the simplicity and practicality of it. So, she took it to work and her colleagues were stunned, arguing it was bought from a store. This made Fasika think if it was indeed plausible to make such bags- perhaps at a larger scale. This marked the birth of AWRA Studio.

According to China’s work policy during the COVID-19 hit, Fasika had to come back home and do most of her work virtually. This was a blessing in disguise as it created the perfect opportunity to kick off her leather works. She continued to perfecting her craft. She was quick to learn new ways and means to continue expanding. At the time where most businesses closed, Fasika found hers emerging and blossoming. She strove to find networks of young and seasoned entrepreneurs who could share with her their expertise and mentor her in the exciting and equally scary journey ahead. Including AWiB, she is a member of multiple associations and alliances that would later contribute to her escalating success.

AWRA has earned loyal customers who are attracted by the consistent character of her products’ simplicity. Fasika claims her favorite part about making the pieces is seeing people with them: “The nature of a raw leather is like wine, it gets better looking as it ages, somehow resembling its owner. Continuously adding the flavors of the person from the daily experiences, emotions, and touches. Seeing my customers wearing any of my pieces gives me the greatest joy.

Fasika is pro-green. She prefers natural products in any given situation. Which also links with her emphatic nature visible in her leadership style. The 2023 Jaisiri program presented a unique opportunity to create her newest venture; Anziboo with her Kenyan co-founder. Anziboo is a Kenyan-based startup that specializes in the use of bamboo plant for the use of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG products). This company targets the rich nature of Africa’s – in particular East Africa’s- abundant and multi-purposed plant to the application of everyday use.

Fasika rejoices in doing Yoga as it brings her a peace of mind. She absolutely enjoys reading books and love spending quality time with her adored friends. She enjoys their companies well as they discuss on relevant matters that helps them grow as much as she enjoys their relaxed and entertaining times. Painting is one creative outlet Fasika had learned from her father to explore her creative side.

Fasika is a person who lives in the moment. She recalls never having been the type of person to plan her entire life ahead but rather, she considers herself -and evidently so- to be opportunistic; one who seizes opportunities as they come and live the moment fully. Fasika quotes her friend she admires “Always be ready, so you won’t have to get ready when opportunity comes.” captures her principles up to precision.

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