Liya Kebede is obviously beautiful. An accomplished model, a well-known actress, she is also active in various philanthropic organisations. However Liya is above all a businesswoman, who, through her brand Lemlem, wants to project a positive image of the African continent and in particular her native Ethiopia. She decided the best way to do this was to harness the local craft knowledge, which was slowly disappearing, to produce high quality items, which combine modernity with local know-how. In 2007 therefore she founded LemLem, which means ‘hatch’ in Amharic, to restore the nobility of their craft to the local Ethiopian weavers. In the lands of the Queen of Sheeba, it was traditionally the men who wove the clothes, whilst the women dyed the fibres. Today Lemlem perpetuates this tradition and offers to you scarves, skirts, dresses and cushions all entirely hand-made by these exceptional weavers.
Participating country: Ethiopia
A couple of questions for Liya Kebede the founder of Lemlem:
Three words to define your brand:
Fresh, chic and African.
How has Lemlem changed the lives of the weavers in Ethiopia?
Our weavers are incredible craftsmen, but the local market for their goods has been steadily declining. We create products that appeal to consumers worldwide, thereby providing them with steady work and a growing demand. Supporting the weavers and their craft has remained our central mission and we’re proud we can sell a beautiful product whilst also helping these artisans thrive.
What is LemLem’s latest accomplishment of which you are most proud?
We’re very proud of the great impact Lemlem has had on our weavers. On a recent trip to Ethiopia, one of our weavers told us, “Before I started working here I couldn’t even go to school and now my wife is graduating. She’s going to get her degree and it’s because I am able to pay for her education through my weaving”.