Olive & Annie: Our History

Olive & Annie: Our History

Olive & Annie began as a simple idea: To provide artisans with ethical employment while supporting vulnerable women and children. 

Olive & Annie creates meaningful designs which provide the gift of hope through every purchase. At the core of Olive & Annie are our charitable efforts. Every Olive & Annie purchase directly supports ZLT Hope Homes and She Matters. Two non-profit organizations offering support to survivors of sexual violence. 

When I was a single mother at 21 years old I knew I wanted to purchase leather baby moccasins for my daughter - but I couldn't afford them. Being a non-profit founder with a heart for design, I wanted to incorporate my two passions while creating sustainable income for my non-profit organization.

We began with baby moccasins, baby moccs as we decided to call them. I designed our moccs based on what I would want to have my daughter wear. Each pair has elastic openings to ensure the moccs stay on the little babes tiny toes, with chrome free dyes to ensure they would keep the baby safe from harmful dyes. 

We began a partnership with a local leather workshop. Before beginning we reviewed their employment practices to ensure the artisans working in the workshop were taken care of as per Kenyan labor laws. Leatherwork is a traditional practice passed down for generations. Craftsmanship requires great technique, taking several years to master the art of stitching. Our leathers came from an internationally certified tannery in Athi River. We got to know the team producing our pieces, and remained involved in every step of the production process. 

Our primary markets were small pop-up events, and we secured 3 retail partners within our first 4 months with small batch orders. We were still actively developing product and trying to prefect our design. 

We began experimenting with new custom leather shades like metallic tones, soft pastels, and staple colors. 

At this time my daughter was just over 1 year old. I loved being able to dress her up in Olive & Annie designs - some of my fondest memories of her childhood were spent in our moccs. 

Now, S is 5 years old. I still have 3 pairs of her Olive & Annie baby moccs - each pair has her tiny footprint on the bottom. A perfect keepsake to remind me of the adventures we had when she was a baby. 

Being a young mother and non-profit founder turned social entrepreneur, much of my life was spent learning as you go. I was fueled by my passion for social change and I tried to ensure that being a young single mother would never limit me from accomplishing my goals while provided for my family - which for myself included 27 children and our team at ZLT Hope Homes. 

Support for our family is really where the idea for Olive & Annie began. Long before I was even a mother yet. When I was pregnant I started to see the trend of non-profit organizations forming social enterprises, or sometimes purely charitable brands, to support their organizations operations. When I was pregnant I loved the products being crafted for babies, I just couldn't afford them myself. 

Thus began my vision for Olive & Annie, affectionately named after two of our girls. Funny enough, everyone always thinks that the brand was named after me, that I am either Olive or Annie, but it was named after them. It has always been for them. 

Our brand has a unique structure. We are 100% a charitable brand. Driven in our mission to support vulnerable women and children, all profits are invested directly into our operations at ZLT Hope Homes. 

Since our humble begins in September of 2016 we have expanded to create our ethical jewelry collections. All jewelry pieces are zero waste, made from recycled brass, handcrafted in Ngong Hills Nairobi. Designing our jewelry and working with Sammy, our Lead Artisan, has been one of the most treasured elements of the journey. 

We create jewelry which tells a story in every design. Sammy and his team of artisans create every product at his home workshop in Ngong Hills. It is by far my favourite place to visit. The views from Sammy's home are absolutely breathtaking - when you visit, you're immediately inspired. The wind, the endless views, and Sammy's families warm hospitality immediately make you feel like you are home. I have found comfort in his workshop to design our jewelry and our footwear combined. 

Much has changed since we began Olive & Annie - ZLT has grown as an organization. Our sales through Olive & Annie have funded two photoshoots with She Matters, two short film productions with She Matters, and countless months of operations at ZLT Hope Homes. We expanded to create a collection of ethical footwear and will soon launch a curated collection of handbags and totes. The best part? We did all of this without capital investment. Olive & Annie was entirely self funded. 

This is only the beginning of the powerful impact Olive & Annie will create. We are grateful to have you join us on this journey! 

With love, 

Jacqueline Ahmed 

Founder & President 

ZLT Hope Homes, Olive & Annie

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