"Creating beautiful opportunities in Africa."lemlem.com
Founded by supermodel and actress Liya Kebede, Lemlem produces women’s, men’s and children’s clothing and home goods.
With Lemlem, Kebede aims to elevate artisanship, and expand production and jobs across Africa. Five percent of the company’s sales go directly to the Lemlem Foundation, which supports work in maternal health and women’s empowerment in Africa. Lemlem’s goods are artisan-made in Africa, primarily in Ethiopia, though parts of production have expanded into Kenya. Materials are sourced from Rwanda, Madagascar, and Mali.
Kebede was inspired to create Lemlem after meeting a group of traditional weavers in her native Ethiopia who no longer had a market for their craft. Kebede used her own experience in the fashion industry to help the artisans modernize the silhouettes of their clothing, and introduced the brand’s signature fluorescent-colored yarns to their designs. With a name that means “to bloom and flourish” in the Ethiopian language of Amharic, Lemlem has flourished under Kebede’s direction, securing collaborations with major brands like J. Crew, and targeting aggressive growth. In 2017, the company distributed its goods across six continents and employed 250 weavers and craftspeople in Ethiopia, with salaries increasing five-fold in the past decade.