Olive and Annie is a line of handcrafted children’s apparel made in Kenya. Every purchase supports initiatives to end sexual violence in and beyond East Africa, a location where Ellie Coburn has lived and traveled. I want to introduce you to Ellie, Creative Director for Olive and Annie!
- When you were 18, you planned a ten-day trip to South Africa that turned into two and a half months in Zimbabwe. Tell us about your connection with this country.
Growing up I had always been fascinated with Africa. When I turned 18, I jumped at the chance to start planning a trip. What was supposed to be a short trip to South Africa ended up being a two and a half month stay working as a caregiver at an orphanage in the rural village of Mutoko, Zimbabwe. Working with orphaned and abandoned children with incredible potential is such an honor and a privilege. It is something that I could never fathom leaving now that I have spent the time that I have working in these regions. I am forever changed by the incredible resilience and brilliance of each of the children I have encountered and am constantly inspired by their ability to challenge my views of the world and make me a better, more compassionate person.
I have now lived in Africa for a total of six months in three different countries over the course of a year and a half.
- What inspired you to get involved with a children’s apparel line?
Olive & Annie is cofounded by Director of Zawadi La Tumaini children’s home, Jacqueline Villneuve and active duty Marine, Lindsay Woodhouse. The home is located in Nairobi, Kenya. The opportunity to work alongside Jacqueline and Lindsay to bring Olive & Annie to life has been a gift. Both Jacqueline and I have invested so much of our young lives to working in orphaned communities in East Africa and Lindsay has been stationed in these areas for extended periods of time where he developed a heart for Olive & Annie’s mission. We have all dreamed of creating a line of apparel that sparks real change in these regions for many years and together we make an incredible team that is proud to bring you Olive & Annie.
- What inspired the name “Olive & Annie”?
Jacqueline and I collaborated together to create Olive & Annie’s name. The children’s home that Jacqueline is a part of is home to 27 orphaned and abandoned children. Both Olive and Annie are little girls that reside in the home whose stories represent and inspire the initiatives that we have implemented.
- You sell handmade moccasins for children. What can we expect from your Fall line?
Olive & Annie’s Fall line consists of a single style of beautiful handcrafted leather moccasins in four colors (red, brown, black, and green) for babies and toddlers ranging in age from 3 months to 3 years. The moccasins are handcrafted in Kenya and ethically produced by a leather company that we are proud to call our startup partner.
Our Fall line is only the beginning of a series of lines that will include children’s clothing, diaper bags, blankets and moccasins in a variety of colors and styles.
All of our future lines will be produced by single mothers in slum communities. Each product will be truly handcrafted with love and your purchase of Olive & Annie products will help to employ these women with ethical wages while expanding Olive & Annie’s initiatives to end sexually based violence in and beyond our base in Kenya.
- How does Olive & Annie help the fight to end sexual violence in East Africa?
The regions that I have visited and worked in are full of talented, capable individuals who want the best for their families. I am motivated to continue to provide support and resources for these people so that they can continue to thrive in their home communities because I know that every person I encounter has all the capacity in the world to move mountains. Offering food and water won’t empower them to become self sustained, hardworking individuals who can provide for their families without needing me as support.
Olive & Annie provides support resources to those affected by sexual abuse in the slums of East Africa but it also provides prevention resources in schools in these areas so that we can empower young people to make the right choices before abuse takes place. Furthermore, Olive & Annie provides a steady flow of ethically paid artisan and craftsman jobs to this region that reaffirms my personal goal and the goal of Olive & Annie — to create self sustaining initiatives that strive to end sexual violence and the orphan crises in the areas we impact.
What to do next~
- Educate yourself on sexual violence in East Africa, and the importance of improving the horrible situation. http://www.christianaid.org.uk/whatwedo/in-focus/gender/africa.aspx
- Connect with the children living at the Zawadi La Tumaini children’s home in Kenya. zlthope.org
- Shop Olive & Annie’s Fall Collection. Every purchase supports initiatives to end sexual violence in and beyond East Africa. http://www.oliveannie.com/