Growing up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, designer Maisha Marshall-Ende became infatuated with personal style early-on. Mostly because she often wasn’t allowed to fully express herself the way she wanted to. “I went to a very conservative Christian school, and my parents very much curated what we were allowed to watch [on TV],” she says. “But I had my Zoey 101 and Lizzie McGuire!” She became obsessed with recreating the flashy, Y2K looks she’d see on the screen—often to her parents’s chagrin. “I would wear an iPhone charger in my hair, or safety pin my jeans to try and make them skinny jeans,” says Marshall-Ende. “I had a very eclectic way about using things that were around.”

When she was 18, Marshall-Ende moved to Toronto, Canada to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at OCAD University. Compared to her native Ethiopia, it was a drastically different environment to live in—“I had never experienced winter,” she says—and she suddenly found herself having an identity crisis as she bounced between the two countries. “I was very Canadian living in Ethiopia,” she says, “but I was really Ethiopian living in Canada.” This juxtaposition between her two identities is what eventually inspired her to launch her brand, Lehwatch, in 2019.

Photo: Courtesy of Lehwatch

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