Crafting a Legacy
Russom Haile Woldemichael knows it takes more than leather and stitching to create a pair of shoes. That’s because our owner and founder isn’t just designing shoes. He’s crafting a legacy.
A family torn apart
Born and raised in Ethiopia, a brutal war scattered Russom and his family across the continent.
He and his brother landed in Kenya, but after five trying months, their bleak new reality set in. They saw no future, yet dreamed of something better. Eventually, they caught wind that better might be possible in South Africa.
The duo made the difficult decision to travel the 9,000-plus kilometres over land and sea to Johannesburg. The harrowing journey lasted more than two months and tragically took its toll on the passengers, with not everyone involved arriving safely or alive.
A new beginning
Russom and his brother arrived in Johannesburg without documentation or proper citizenship, adopting a hustler’s mentality to survive. They turned to the streets to make ends meet. Grinding day in, day out, flipping small items to tourists in back alleys. But this did more than just put food in their mouths. It taught Russom the ins-and-outs of business, how to sell, and the value of hard work.
Fast forward to 2004, Russom and his brother land in Canada and, for the first time in their lives, feel like they’re on solid ground. In their new home, they find a country and a people embracing them with open arms and endless opportunities.
Filled with hope, Russom quickly lands behind the wheel of a cab and begins to shape his new life. He’s able to set his own hours, make a decent wage, and—maybe most importantly—beholden to no one.
The life of a cabbie isn’t glamorous, but it was the means to an end and an opportunity to stay focused on his goals. It also, unexpectedly, gave him the opportunity to do market research. Russom would chat up well-dressed passengers on a shared love: fashion. He asked them what they were wearing, where they shopped, and what they liked. He noticed an opportunity in the market, and Barcon Getta was born.
Passion Meets Purpose
Russom is determined to give back to the people and places that helped mould him into the man he is today. That’s why he sources his premium leather from the same Ethiopian tanneries used by the world’s top fashion houses. And pays homage to his community and culture through design. His passion for luxury leather goods comes with purpose, and that shines through in every step of the process. Despite all the hardships he faced, Russom still considers himself lucky. A luck he is determined to share.