PODCAST #35 · OLIVIA KENNAWAY · NEXT LEVEL SUSTAINABLE FASHION AT ASHA:ELEVEN, CAPE TOWN

Olivia Kennaway is the founder of sustainable, ethical fashion label Lalesso and more recently, Asha:Eleven. Olivia helped drive the ethical fashion movement in Africa with early involvement in the Ethical Fashion Forum. She was also the instigator of what is today, Soko Kenya, which was then set up by Joanna Maiden in the Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary (and now manufactures ethical fashion for big brands like Asos Africa). She is passionate about building an inspirational label that considers both planet and people by taking sustainability to the next level.

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“What will help us see a change in the world is sharing those stories and inspiring one another and the best way to inspire one another is to just do it”
– Olivia Kennaway

We caught up with Olivia in Betty’s Bay, a small coastal town just outside of Cape Town on a moody and stormy day so please enjoy a little wind whistling as background ambiance. We cover the following:

  • Olivia’s background, growing up in Kenya and her path to Cape Town (~02:20)
  • Kenya’s influence on Olivia, including on her creativity (~03:00)
  • How Olivia’s first brand Lalesso became ethical and the instigation of Soko Kenya (~05:30)
  • What Olivia is most proud of from her experience co-founding and running Lalesso (~10:00)
  • Why Olivia chose to focus on fashion as a career (~12:10)
  • Olivia’s thoughts on the fashion industry’s challenges and her approach to the solutions, inspired by Yvon Chouinard’s book, Let My People Go Surfing (~13:40)
  • Thoughts on being a conscious fashion consumption (~21:15)
  • Fashion for good in South Africa, including both ethical manufacturing and Olivia’s favourite ethical fashion brands (~24:50)
  • Asha:Eleven and Olivia’s approach using the notion of “Let us inspire one another” (~28:00)
  • Asha:Eleven’s key sustainability attributes across the value chain including textiles, manufacturing, packaging and carbon offsetting on shipping (~30:30)
  • Olivia’s ambitions for the Asha:Eleven label (~33:20)
  • Olivia’s view on the role of business in driving change and the Fashion Revolution’s approach to joint responsibility from business and consumers (~33:50)
  • Stories of impact: Lives that have been impacted and changed by Olivia’s approach to business (~36:15)
  • Thoughts and realisations of personal impact through small actions (~38:45)
  • Olivia’s advice for others wanting to start mission driven fashion label (~40:20)

It actually goes both ways, businesses have a certain responsibility to provide consumers with a sustainable product but at the same time, if they’re not, consumers also have a responsibility to demand a more sustainable product
– Olivia Kennaway

NOTABLE LINKS

Asha:Eleven:

Olivia’s recommendations:

Other useful links:

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