The great 10TIEN adventure started in 2015. I was 23 years old at that time and travelled with my father to Ethiopia in search for a company that could produce the bags. An uncle put me in touch with a local who guided me in Ethiopia. 10TIEN has really ‘started from the bottom’ and ‘now we are here’. Together with the local we roamed all the local bag stores to ask where they produced the bags. In the end, it became clear that many of their bags were not made from leather… Eventually we found 3 manufacturers who we paid a visit. They all made me a sample and I made a choice accordingly. Quality is an important factor. Back in the Netherlands I made a decision and chose the right pieces of leather for the bags. Sending the material back and forward took me too long, so I packed my bags and flew back to Ethiopia. There I would be able to recommend the right leather on the spot, support the production and after a week fly back with the samples in my bag. But the rain season messed up the plan. At the manufacturing company the electrical wires were exposed and broken because of the rain. No electricity, no samples. I returned empty handed, but was fortunate enough to receive the samples shortly after – and I was very satisfied with the outcome. Unfortunately, this cooperation lasted only eighteen months; the company was financially unhealthy and I had to search for a new manufacturer….
A high-quality family business
Ethiopia is full of potential. I wanted to continue with this country, but did not know if I would find a manufacturer who would meet my expectations. 10TIEN is closely involved with socially responsible entrepreneurship (MVO Nederland), that was working on a project in Ethiopia. MVO visited the country twice, gathered information and visited companies. Their findings helped me: I went again to Ethiopia to search for a new manufacturer. Before I boarded the plane, I asked several manufacturers to make a sample. Once I was well and truly on Ethiopian soil, I could immediately see what they had made for me. I was not that pleased and was thrilled when I heard about another manufacturer in Addis Ababa. There they promised to give me a sample before I would travel back to the Netherlands. The manufacturer is a family business; the father doesn’t let anything leave the premises before having approved the quality. The father found the sample not good enough; they had to make it in one morning because the power was cut. The son convinced him to offer it anyway and I am still happy about that every day. Since then we work together and the results are impressive.