My goal for Lemlem is to be a positive case study that helps the fashion industry recognise Africa as a source of outstanding creativity and high quality artisanal production. The brand started as an attempt to solve a problem I first noticed in my hometown of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Weavers were losing work. At Lemlem we focus on creating meaningful and lasting jobs for artisans while promoting the traditional art of weaving and other handcrafting techniques.
After 12 years it’s amazing to see how much we’ve affected their lives. We produce and source in five African countries and employ 250 craftspeople, offering fair wages that have increased fivefold.
My personal style is casual and modern but also very comfortable. I love Lemlem pieces like a long caftan or dress that can take me from day to night with the addition of Aurélie Bidermann hoop earrings.
I also live in sneakers. I have a new pair of Louis Vuitton Archlights that I wear all the time.
My one rule of style is don’t force it. Style is personal and should represent you. Trends aren’t really something I do.
My most treasured possession is a sweater I took from my dad when I left Ethiopia right after high school. I also have a gold cross that my mother gave me, that her mother had given her, to pass on to my daughter.
My favourite accessories are my Lemlem scarves. They keep me warm on long flights.
My bucket list includes traveling to Bhutan, Indian and Egypt. I’d also like to take a trip on the Orient Express and go on safari with my kids.
My beauty essential is L’Oréal Paris Unlimited Mascara. And their True Match foundation matches my skin tone perfectly.
I’ve always been a reader, and I constantly have a book with me. The best books I’ve ever read are My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk; 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami; and Demian by Hermann Hesse. Right now I’m reading Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.
My favourite artists are Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele. I like too many musicians to name: Bob Marley, Rodriguez, the Eagles, Tiken Jah Fakoly, Queen…
The values I stand for are fairness and equality. There’s a lot going on right now, and it’s a bit scary. I try to focus on what I’m teaching my kids and what principles scary. I try what principles they’ll take into the world. I want them to respect others m to respect others and treat people with kindness but also do the same for themselves.
Clockwise from left: Liya Kebede; Aurélie Bidermann earrings; Lemlem scarf; Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea; L’Oréal Paris Unlimited Lash Lifting and Lengthening Mascara in Blackest Black; Louis Vuitton sneaker
PHOTOGRAPHY: COURTESY OF LIYA KEBEDE; SCRIBNER; DON PENNY AND JEFFREY WESTBROK/STUDIO D. STYLING: ANNE WLAYSEWSKI. RTESY OF LIYA KEBEDE; SCRIBNER; DO