The word 'Lewatch' means exchange. People have bartered for millennia, and the practice continues in Ethiopia. For example, people may exchange old clothing for kitchen utensils. Traveling traders will go into the neighbourhoods, announcing their presence with piercing calls of "lewatch." Those interested in doing business will race to respond in kind before the merchant moves on. This call and response was a familiar refrain to the soundtrack of my home city, Addis Ababa. I have long admired the practicality of this system. The objects we surround ourselves with can live many lives beyond their first use. This spirit of repurposing is the foundation of our brand Lehwatch.
The bold and distinctive motif that characterizes the brand can be seen on the streets of Addis Ababa. Winding your way through the city, you will undoubtedly see vibrant mattresses stacked to fairy tale heights.
Maisha founded Lehwatch in 2018; however, its inception began long before. Moving to Canada as an adult gave her a unique perspective on race. She came to see that the common conception of blackness was far too narrow. Far from monolithic, there are as many experiences of blackness as there are people on our earth. Maisha grew up between worlds and now embraces two countries as her home.
Ethiopia and Canada
Addis Ababa and Toronto
As an artist, she processed this duality by building a cultural bridge. Combining an iconic Ethiopian fabric with designs inspired by downtown Toronto's free expression and movement, she is actively reconciling the complexities of culture and blackness through design.