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Get To Know: Lemlem

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Started by model and philanthropist Liya Kebede, Lemlem's apparel and accessories create economic opportunity and preserve an artistic tradition, helping Ethiopian weavers thrive and bloom (which is what lemlem means in Amharic).
  • Job Creation
  • Africa
HOW IT HELPS:
WHERE IT HELPS:
X
  • Job Creation
  • Africa
  • Ethiopia

Meet the Founder

Founder Image
Liya Kebede

WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR LEMLEM COME FROM?

When I was back in Ethiopia for a visit, I noticed that traditional weavers really didn’t have a market for their products at home any more. But I really felt there was a global audience for their work.

 

HOW DO YOU WORK WITH THE WEAVERS?

The design team is here in New York City, and we send the design to the weavers. The weavers weave the fabric by hand and sew all the garments locally. There’s some back and forth. Sometimes there are electricity outages. Sometimes the phones don’t work. But we’re taking them somewhere where they haven’t gone before, in terms of design, shapes and colors. At first it was a little different for them, but now they’re seeing how innovative their work is.

 

HOW DO YOU APPROACH GIVING BACK?

It’s an incredible thing to give someone an opportunity to make his or her own money and create a whole life for themselves. At the same time, there are other causes that are not as self-sustaining. So I’ve also created a separate foundation to help reduce maternal and child mortality while also improving the overall well-being of mothers and children worldwide.