Meet Olivia Kennaway, Founder of Asha Eleven

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THE CHANGEMAKER

Meet Olivia Kennaway, Founder of Asha Eleven

How did your journey in the fashion industry begin?

My journey began in the beautiful city of Cape Town where I studied Fashion Design. Following the completion of my studies there, I went back home to Kenya where I set up an ethical production workshop with local tailors and seamstresses. I used the workshop to supply a clothing brand I had created in 2007 called Lalesso. At the time, Lalesso garments were being sold all over the world, from Topshop to Anthropologie. The production workshop is now known under the name of Soko Kenya and is one of the world’s most recognised and leading ethical clothing factories. 

What’s your biggest business accomplishment so far?

Having a profitable and ethical clothing brand that doesn’t compromise when it comes to putting the planet and its people first.

  • Considerately Produced
  • Friendly Materials
  • Giveback Culture
  • Locally Crafted
£66.00
  • Considerately Produced
  • Friendly Materials
  • Giveback Culture
  • Locally Crafted

Asha Eleven

Kipepeo Jumpsuit

£61.00
  • Considerately Produced
  • Friendly Materials
  • Giveback Culture
  • Locally Crafted

Asha Eleven

Salama Shorts

£39.00
  • Considerately Produced
  • Friendly Materials
  • Giveback Culture
  • Locally Crafted

Asha Eleven

Outlander Blouse

£61.00

Your favourite place to be in nature?

Ah! There are too many! I love spending time by the ocean, especially the Indian Ocean where I’m from in Kenya. The rugged rawness of the Cederberg Mountains in the Western Cape is definitely a special place for me, as is the Transkei in Eastern Cape of South Africa.

What are your go-to sustainable brands? 

At home I use Green Bee Biodegradables. For skincare I use Wild Earth Botanics and for clothes I love Hannah Lavery, Merwe Salt and of course Asha Eleven!

If you could share any advice to someone looking to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle?

The best place to start is by simply being aware of the choices you are making. Once you become aware, the changes will come naturally. It’s easy to put too much pressure and expectation on oneself and become overwhelmed by it all, but if you start with awareness, it’s a much gentler, authentic and ultimately sustainable approach.

Olivia Kennaway

What’s the craziest thing you’ve learned in your work?

One crazy fact I learned is that there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. On a more practical side, I was shocked to discover how courier services can be the single most crippling element to a small business.

In your personal life, what do you do to be more eco-responsible?

That’s definitely not a one-item answer. I think the key to being more eco-responsible is looking at it wholly and doing the best you can as often as you can. I believe that recycling is one of the single most important things we can do and of course reducing our waste before it even gets to that stage. I try to consume less and be aware that everything that I put down the drain has to go somewhere, from detergents to cleaning products. I do my best to support small businesses because a future with independent brands (or without large corporations I should say) will help us to protect our planet.

What do you do to disconnect?

I meditate, I cycle with my baby on my back and I swim in the ocean.

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