Abai Schulze of ZAAF donates 100 percent of her art proceeds to Employ Prince George’s
News Release, Bendure Communications, Inc.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., May 7, 2020— Like other nonessential businesses, ZAAF at National Harbor, featuring high end goods made entirely in Africa, had to close its doors during COVID-19. Owner Abai Schulze has taken the opportunity of this newfound time to return to her first love, painting, and use it to give back to the greater community.
The collection, which Schulze calls “Humans in Color” examines and celebrates everyday people in Africa. 100 percent of the proceeds from each piece will be donated to Employ Prince George’s, a nonprofit organization working to improve the local economy through workforce development programs. Over the past several weeks, Employ Prince George’s has raised $331,000 to provide immediate assistance to low-wage hourly workers who have recently been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This relief has provided immediate cash assistance, $200 per Prince George’s County resident, to over 690 laid off residents.
“ZAAF has been an incredible addition to the business community in Prince George’s County,” said Employ Prince George’s President and CEO Walter Simmons. “Abai’s generosity through her paintings goes to show there are endless ways to help support those in need during this crisis. I know she will inspire others to find ways to give back,” said Simmons.
Schulze herself has an incredible life story. Originally an orphan from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, she came to the United States as a child and later studied economics and fine arts at George Washington University. The creation of ZAAF combines her two interests of economic development, by creating jobs for artisans in Africa, and design. ZAAF merchandise includes beautiful high-end handbags, scarves, shoes and other accessories. With the addition of these paintings, Schulze feels like she has come full circle.
“I am a designer, an entrepreneur, a business person, and even an occasional speaker. But my first love that energizes all that I do is the fact that I am an artist,” said Schulze. “I love peering into the eyes and postures of the amazing diversity of people that inhabit the Continent. Each one tells a story; each one expresses a deep humanity. Life is not easy for many, so a smile, a look, an expression holds a depth that goes way beyond what many of us are accustomed to in our comfortable lives; it offers a treasure to behold and reflect upon.”
Schulze and ZAAF have been recognized in various ways ranging from appearing on runways at New York Fashion Week, to being featured in Elle, Lucky and Vogue, to receiving the UNESCO Tremplin Prize for Entrepreneurship. In 2018, ZAAF was nominated for Socially Responsible handbag design at the Independent Handbag Designer Awards in New York.
More information about the Humans in Color collection and how to purchase can be found on the ZAAF collection website, zaafcollection.com/.