Konstantina Emmanuel (Eddie): The Guiding Light
Konstantina Emmanuel, aka Eddie, was born in Addis Ababa in 1978. Her distinctive name was given to her by her adoptive Greek father. She has six sisters and two late brothers. Since childhood, Eddie has had an interest in domestic chores; she reminisced styling family members’ hair, during which she discovered her true passion—the world of styling and beauty.
At the tender age of 16, Eddie embarked on a life-altering path to Greece. After two years in high school, she moved to the US and studied cosmetology & fashion design for two years. Upon graduation, she worked at a hair salon in San Francisco. While honing her craft at the hair salon, fate intervened revealing a new path that Eddie never anticipated. At age twenty, she discovered that she was expecting. Understanding how difficult it would be to raise a child as a single mom, she boarded a plane back to Ethiopia, seeking the solace and support of her mother.
Initially, Eddie’s return to Ethiopia was meant to be a short break, a safe space where she could gather her thoughts and make pivotal life decisions. However, life had other plans for her. As she settled in her mother’s house, she soon realized that her entrepreneurial spirit and creativity held immense potential.
To earn income & support her daughter, Eddie rented a house in Bole and began her journey in the beauty industry. The Zigzag Nail Salon quickly became popular as it was one of the first places to provide such services. With relentless dedication and the help of her mother and aunts, Eddie’s business endeavors flourished. Her passion for beauty combined with her innate talent allowed her to carve a niche for herself in the local market.
Fueled by ambition and a deep desire to bring unique experiences to her community, Eddie used her earnings to open a second branch of her business. This branch included a hair salon. Zigzag became the talk of the town with its new services that were uncommon in Ethiopia at the time.
Eddie’s visionary approach propelled her forward and soon a third branch emerged that included a luxurious spa. She continued to expand her empire unveiling a fourth branch (ZigZag Hotel and Spa) in Meskel Flower in 2013. The building has three floors dedicated to spa services, well-kept rooms, a restaurant, and a beauty salon catering to both men and women. She recently opened a fifth branch in Chichinia, a testament to her unwavering pursuit of entrepreneurship.
Eddie’s dedication to expanding her business was more than just profits; she enjoyed working with people and was passionate about developing others. “As I excelled in my businesses and became successful, I realized that I needed to give back to the community.” She often took courses to sharpen her acumen for business and transferred her knowledge to her employees to bring out the best in them.
At Zigzag, Eddie has a hands-on approach where she teaches her staff, evaluates customer services, and ensures the rooms keep the standard. Eddie is a woman who leads by example. She acts as one of the employees rather than as an owner.
Eddie has trained & encouraged several of her staff to have their own businesses in the beauty industry. She has developed, mentored, and supported 12 of her former employees. As a result, Addis Ababa enjoys TG Nail Spa, Mahi Nail Spa, Marti Hair Salon, Tsion Hair Salon, Zebiba Hair Salon, Eddie Hair Salon, Zeki Hair Salon, Mame Hair Salon, Tsige Hair Salon, Beck Hair Salon, Maria Hair Salon, and Ermias Hair Salon. Eddie employs 125 people who are trained regularly, updating their knowledge and skills of the industry. No doubt some of them will end up owning their own businesses. It is not every day that we find someone who genuinely enjoys developing others.
As part of her commitment to giving back, Eddie transformed her mother’s house in Piassa into a safe space for mothers with young children, empowering them to forge their own paths and secure a livelihood. Part of the program is sowing, discovering their passions, and affording suitable employment.
Eddie’s beliefs are rooted in hard work and commitment. Every milestone she has achieved bears a testament to her relentless spirit and unwavering determination. Eddie continually seeks opportunities for growth and improvement both in her personal and professional endeavors.
Her most important accomplishments are raising her daughter and building an empire in the beauty industry. Eddie’s success emanates from being focused and loving what she does. Eddie is passionate about fashion design & handcraft that she hopes to pursue after Zizag is in capable hands.
Eddie’s message to the younger generations is that hard work is essential. “You have to put effort into what you believe in. You can’t take shortcuts in life. As long as you are breathing, you have to keep going.”She asserts that everyone needs to listen to themselves. If something is bothering you, you need to make time to clear out the clutter. She emphasizes asking ourselves: What do I need? What do I want to work on? What do I love? Only you can bring out your true self and shine on your won. That’s you job!, she adds.
Eddie observed in the Ethiopian society the notion that success hinges solely on possessing multiple degrees couldn’t be further from the truth. The key lies not in collecting degrees in something you have no passion for but rather in discovering your true aspirations and nurturing them into something meaningful and rewarding.
For Eddie, true leadership lies in attentive listening and genuine understanding of those around us. She believes that possessing a management or academic degree alone is insufficient. Real-world experience is essential.
Eddie emphasized that people often have undiscovered passions and a leader’s responsibility is to guide them on a journey of self-discovery. Rather than imposing roles on others, a leader encourages individuals to find their gifts that ultimately benefit both the individual and the cause.
During her free time, Eddie likes to read, exercise, practice yoga, fellowship, and meet with her friends once a week to share experiences & network. Eddie is most grateful for her now 23-year-old daughter Pamela and her two grandkids.
Eddie firmly believes that women’s success doesn’t depend on marrying a wealthy man. Women can achieve anything they set their minds to. They do not need someone to rescue or overshadow them. True power shines from within as women navigate their paths. Eddie is a testament to the power of resilience and determination. With every stride, Eddie continues to inspire others to embrace their journeys, empowering them to explore uncharted territories and unlock their limitless potential.
AWiB is grateful to Eddie to sit for this meeting.