LILA (n.) "a way of describing all reality, including the cosmos, as the outcome of creative play by the divine absolute"
BARE (n.) "raw, natural, naked."
It all started when...
I was sick and tired of not having a place to shop. Here in Kenya, we didn't have big department stores, thrift shops, or anything in between. Other than our lovely flea markets (where more often than not, they didn't have my size), my 13 year old self decided to step up my wardrobe game, by whatever means necessary.
I eagerly awaited the days that my mother would announce 'spring cleaning!'. As I perched on the edge of her bed, I would grab all the old jackets, bed sheets and shoe laces I could hold. I'd sneak off to a tailor after school, spending all my pocket money on upcycling all of it into clothes. Said tailor thought I was crazy, and would always give me the one arched eyebrow when I would skip into his workshop with a fresh batch of old, unwanted fabrics.
I knew that I was made to do this. I just didn't know how.
I took all the jobs I could: from working on factory floors to selling luxury clothes in stilhettos (my toes have just about forgiven me), I did it all. My last job was working at Fashion Week in Mumbai, where I was quickly reminded that I couldn't just watch all those designers' clothes glide down the runway... I had a vision of my own and I needed to see it come to life.
Mumbai, and all its madness, taught me more about creativity than I could have ever imagined. I was constantly inspired by the people I met and what they were up to. Whilst I was there, I engrossed myself in Indian craft; and the stories of the lives behind them.
Three years later, I made the journey back home. I wanted to soak up my roots and culture, be a part of the change I wanted to see for my country. So, in my flip flops and ratty tshirt, I hit the beaten paths of Kenya.
During my adventures, I met an artisan who changed everything for me. I knew that Ben was part of a much wider community of talented artists. His unparalleled craftsmanship.led me to Malindi, and together, we spent a month sitting in the sand, with pliers, beads & the cool ocean breeze slapping me into the present. I felt full, and high, on life. Nothing has ever brought me more satisfaction than to create something with my hands; I had the same feeling as I stood at that tailors doorstep as a teenager, and that feeling was potential.
During the last year, I have had the great fortune of meeting people from all walks of life, from farmers to messengers, with a vision much like my own...doing that which you love in exchange for respectable pay and being treated fairly.
I nurtured a little team out of these amazing people. Right now, we're a loving group of four, including a tailor who is talented beyond even his own comprehension, and a boda boda guy who supports a childrens' home in Nairobi. As for me, I make the jewellery and design all the clothes here at Lilabare, in the hopes that I can grow a team as sustainably and lovingly as the cotton we use.
I hope you like it.