Supermodel and founder of lemlem, Liya Kebede takes us along for the ride as she travels from her home in New York City to Lagos in Nigeria.
How would you sum up what you do in a sentence ?
I guess I'd say I'm a model/actress, and creative director and founder of lemlem and the lemlem Foundation.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I didn’t really know, but I was very much excited by fashion and wanted to move to America for better opportunities.
Where does the name “lemlem” come from?
lemlem is a word in the Ethiopian language of Amharic, and it means ‘to bloom’ or ‘flourish’. It also happens to be the nickname I use for my daughter. So when my team suggested a few different names for the company, I smiled when I saw ‘lemlem’ on the list. I felt it was sort of a sign.
What's your greatest ambition?
I think lemlem is one of my greatest ambitions. We want to enable artisans and raise awareness about their incredible work, and all the beautiful handcrafted pieces they make. We want to be a role model for others to come and also work in Africa.
Most memorable modelling moment?
I will never forget my first big runway moment for Gucci F/W 2000.
Where do you call home?
Both New York and Paris.
How do you waste time, when your schedule is clear?
When I have time, I like to go see good plays, or watch a great TV show, and I love relaxing at home with my children.
“lemlem is a word in the Ethiopian language of Amharic, and it means ‘to bloom’ or ‘flourish’. It also happens to be the nickname I use for my daughter. So when my team suggested a few different names for the company, I smiled when I saw ‘lemlem’ on the list. I felt it was sort of a sign.”
What would you most like to change about the world?
I would like to see a more inclusive, tolerant and sustainable world.
What would you most like to change about yourself?
As women, we are constantly receiving a message that we should be changing something about ourselves. If anything, I feel we need to accept ourselves as we are.
I’m really into Afrobeats lately - I recently went to Lagos and saw Wizkid perform Ojulegba live and the energy was amazing with everyone singing and dancing to it.
I really like soft pinks and greys.
Best book to take on vacation?
I read so much, I always take a few books with me when I travel. I like a good spy novel.
Early mornings or late nights?
I love early mornings, where I can have some quiet time and meditate.
The funniest person you know?
My children make me laugh all the time.
Favourite thing to eat?
I love pasta.
“I read so much, I always take a few books with me when I travel. I like a good spy novel.”
Least favourite thing to eat?
What was your first job?
I started modelling straight out of high school.
The best advice you've ever been given?
There are always going to be obstacles and people telling you ‘no’. It’s important to just keep going and push through the challenges.
What drives your creativity?
All of my roles fulfil me in different ways. I’m always being challenged, and each day brings something different.
Who do you consider to be the true creatives in the world?
So many fashion designers are doing genius things, and I appreciate all forms of art as well. I went to a Basquiat exhibition not too long ago and it was very inspiring.
Who’s the coolest person you know?
I have a lot of friends in the industry that are super cool, Pierpaolo [Piccioli] is one of them.
Anything by Sade
Anything by Wizkid
Un Africain à Paris by Tiken Jah Fakoly
Je Suis Malade by Dalida