Meet Steffi Ferrario, founder of Give A Future and the exciting new social enterprise Lalibella Made in Africa. We sat down with her to discuss what inspires her to run her charity and business, how she supports Ethiopian artisans from her London base and of course her favourite TROY pieces.
What inspired you to set up Lalibella?
A visit to Ethiopia in 2003 impressed upon me the depth of the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia, and my charity Give a Future was born. Happily Ethiopia is a more stable country today, so having set up several schools across the country, we now focus on providing scholarships and vocational training for promising students to allow them to enter into the government backed schools, and our microfinance programme supporting over 1000 women to start their own businesses.
Lalibella, my online store and shop in Notting Hill, came later - a celebration of the best of African Design, interiors, clothes we have sourced from across the continent, the profits from which all go directly to Give a Future. We realised that by having a central London store it would also serve as a show room for larger interior projects, such as hotels and homes around the world. We attract people looking to source beautiful and unique African art, interiors and fashion, and by doing so they ultimately touch the lives of many, many more families across the continent of Africa.
How do you source these beautiful things?
We travel and visit trade shows and our network has snowballed, meaning that lots of unusual and beautiful brands now come to us.
What are your favourite pieces in the store today?
Our beautifully woven beach bags with colourful handles from South Africa, our hand-woven kaftans and beach towels from Ethiopia and our new jewellery.
Managing your business and charity alongside your three lovely children and school holidays must be challenging at times?
Yes, this is a constant challenge but I have two amazing business partners we have a small dedicated team and an international network so we grow organically year on year. Sometimes it feels like a lot of work, but I really believe in doing one step at a time and get things done, it gives me energy to be busy and I love what we do.
Who is your typical customer?
Someone who cares about the origins of their purchases. With a unique and stylish aesthetic and a love of the beautiful, imperfect. Clients now like to have much more knowledge as to the sourcing and creative processes. A person looking for an organic style, for unique products that are one of a kind.
This is a reason I love TROY as the product is quality and you make in the UK to a very high standard.
What is your favourite piece in the TROY collection?
The recent collaboration ‘Elements Parka’ with Amanda Wakeley is my absolute favourite, and I also love my Wax Parka in Camo. TROY celebrates British style and understated elegance which I love. The waisted coats and subtle detailing add a femininity to the coats which is hard to find, and perfect for the mountains, riding my horse in Sussex, and a chilly morning in Ethiopia.
GET THE LOOK
'TROY celebrates British style and understated elegance'
For more information about Steffi's charity Give A Future visit www.giveafuture.org.uk