“Lalesso was launched in Cape Town 2005 by Olivia Kennaway and Alice Heusser. The inspiration behind the brand came from a holiday to Olivias home country Kenya where the pair travelled to the remote Island of Lamu off the coast of Kenya. The traditional attire of the local women in these coastal regions is the captivatingly beautiful khanga or lesso; its intrinsic patterns and vibrant colours were the inspiration for the birth of the Lalesso brand.
The pair felt it was necessary to involve a socially responsible method of manufacturing and so set up their own workshop in Diani Beach, Kenya. Starting out with just two seamstresses they now have a team of 22. All tailors are paid over 3 times the average manufacturers wage (this is not exuberant, just fair). The working conditions are ideal, hours are flexible to suit their personal restrictions and this is monitored by production targets. We offer a creche facility, loans, sick pay, sick leave, maternity leave, crisis leave. In just 3 years, the change in their lives is clearly visible.
Lalesso also tries to involve the community in as many ways possible. The Crochet Sisters are a group of nuns who make all the crochet by hand. Local Masaai tradesmen make the beaded bracelets used on the swing tags. Unemployed beach boys are commissioned to hand carve buttons from decaying coconuts. Among other various temporary and permanent projects Lalesso strives to boost the income and livelihoods of these disadvantaged citizens. Lalesso instigated the start up of SOKO (www.soko-kenya.com), an eco and ethical production plant (IFAT and SA8000 certifications).”
Bio by Lalesso.
~Photocredit: Simon Deiner/SDR Photo