Felekech (Fei) Zewde: The Balanced Being Building a Brand

Felekech (Fei) is a person with an utmost positive attitude towards life.  Her light and optimistic character is contagious and a breath of fresh air for anyone who encounters her.  Fei was born and raised in Addis.  Even though she was the only girl, she wasn’t treated any differently and was raised believing she can be and do anything she sets her mind to. The support her parents shared was a big lesson in life for Fei.  The balance they had in life between work and family is something she reflects today.

Fei was a first year economics student at Unity University when she got her scholarship to the United States with a double major in economics and finance and minoring in accounting and management.  Even though she had relatives in different states, this was Fei’s first experience alone.  She says it was one of her best experiences in life and it let her discover herself in a whole new way.  Fei also received her MBA while working full time at AOL as a financial analyst.

When Fei moved to Addis she was exploring available options for work.  She found the entrepreneurship path to be the most suitable.  She was determined to establish a business with a greater purpose and fulfilled that through YenaéYenaé is changing the narrative of the African continent by highlighting each African country’s cultures and heritages through jewelry.  It is an online-based, high-end fashion jewelry brand that manufactures and retails culturally-curated and African-inspired, one-of-kind jewelry pieces that come with stories (www.yenae.com).

Fei’s philosophy of life is to always do right by people, to do right by yourself, and to come from a positive place.  She also says realizing and accepting what is, where you are and who you are gives you the sense of calmness and would be your source of strength.  Fei strongly values family and emphasizes how prioritizing one’s life is important so one doesn’t waste energy and time on the things that matter less.

  • For Fei, success is feeling fulfilled, content, and meeting your purpose. It’s about giving it your best effort and using your time wisely. Yenaè is one of her accomplishments she is most proud of.  Establishing a well-known brand from scratch in partnership with her business partner Seble Alemayehu, has been a very fulfilling journey.  Building Yenaè while being AWiB’s 2020 president and raising two kids felt like running three marathons at once, and there is a feeling of success.  Fei led AWiB through the difficult year 2020.  She showed great leadership, creativity, and commitment to keep AWiB present and relevant despite the adversity of COVID.

Fei attributes her success to the support she gets from her family, both immediate and extended.  She is also grateful to her husband who shows his support silently as an enabling force.  Her parents are her role models.  She learned to be resilient, hardworking and patient from her mother.  Her mom also taught her to see the bigger picture in her endeavors so as to not get caught up in the small affairs.  Fei has a dynamic father who set high expectations for her, trusted her and gave her room to explore new experiences, guiding her to grow independent.  She describes her, “I can do it!” attitude and her optimistic character as something she got from her father.  The perspective she gets from friends continuously adds to her growth.

Giving back to the community creates a lasting impact, Fei believes.  She always avails herself to give advice and has been able to reach many through her leadership at AWiB.  Leadership for Fei is inspiring other people in action.  Leadership is gentle, kind and supportive.  She believes true leaders create other leaders.

Fei advises the younger generation to not be OK with the status quo and demand more from the community.  She also advises youth to be in charge of their destiny and to stand and speak up if there are things they want to change.  She emphasizes women can actually have it all but not all at the same time.  Lastly, she says knowing yourself and your purpose takes you further while looking at the bigger picture and taking one step at a time ultimately ensures your success.

AWiB is a gold mine in Fei’s view.  If people know how to use AWiB they could transform their lives.  It’s a stepping stone to elevate and distinguish yourself among many.

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