Photo: Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu
A native of Ethiopia, Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is the founder of soleRebels, a line of colorful footwear that pairs Ethiopian craftsmanship with western design. The handmade, fair-trade shoes are made entirely in her native country and sold in 55 others. Alemu, who was recently named a Forbes Woman to Watch, takes pride in spreading her Ethiopian culture and style across the world. The globetrotting entrepreneur says that one of the greatest lessons she learned growing up in her small village was actually a pretty global ideal: beauty comes from within, and is in large part determined by how you treat others. “Truly beautiful people have incredibly beautiful spirits that allow them to radiate a special kind of physical beauty,” Amelu says. “It is in our actions. Doing beautiful things to uplift and empower other people is the ultimate expression of beauty.”
Unlike the United States, Amelu’s native country doesn’t celebrate stress, and that laid back attitude encourages a positive outlook that she says contributes greatly to overall wellness and health. She also comes from a rich tradition of do-it-yourself beauty. “We have so many local beauty secrets,” she says. “Ethiopians are well known for having gorgeous hair.” Their amazing locks are thanks to a specialized hair butter called KIBE that women make themselves. “Almost every family has their own special recipe that they have passed on from generation to generation,” she says. “It is truly a skilled craft.”
Crafting your own natural creams, potions, and tonics is part of the culture. “The old way of keeping yourself gorgeous is still working,” Amelu says. “It is proven, our mothers, grandmothers are using the same methods to keep themselves looking great.” The bonus is that many of these treatments are inexpensive and easy to make yourself using ingredients like honey, banana, egg, even potatoes. “Because we have access to natural ingredients, they are also cheap to make.”
Amelu was kind enough to share two of her favorite DIY beauty recipes with us below. Enjoy!
Avocado Magic Mask
Combine one avocado and one peeled, chopped tomato together and mix very well. Apply on face generously. Wait 30 minutes and rinse with warm water. Your skin will glow!
Honey Kiss Cleanser
Apply two tablespoons of dark organic honey to face, rubbing in gently with some warm water to create a lather like feel. Rinse face clean with warm water. Your skin will look and feel like a sweet kiss of honey.