SLUMLOVE SWEATER CO
FOUNDER: AVA DARNELL
WHY DOES SLUMLOVE CALL AUSTIN HOME
Slumlove calls Austin home because it’s where I live! I’ve lived in Austin for over 10 years and love being a part of this vibrant and creative city. The fashion scene is really starting to grow and thrive, and it is a great place to run a small business.
FAVORITE SONG/ARTIST/ALBUM FOR A SPARK OF CREATIVITY
Depends on how I am looking to be inspired. Right now, I’m really loving the new War on Drugs album (we played it to get hyped during our most recent photoshoot).
BIGGEST DEBATE OF ALL: COFFEE OR TEA, BE SPECIFIC ;)
COFFEE FOREVER. Austin has such a great coffee scene, from local shops to amazing local roasters. Wild Gift is our favorite to brew at home. Making coffee is the first thing I do every morning.
WHO DO YOU FOLLOW ON INSTAGRAM FOR INSPIRATION?
Instagram Inspiration: @jaceuduprie, @katiejameson, @madewithlovejournal, @thegoodtrade, @everlane, @jennikayne
GO-TO MIDDAY SNACK OR ROUTINE FOR CREATIVE FUEL
An iced coconut milk mocha from Picnik or almond butter toast from Juice Society (I also could eat cereal with almond milk at home pretty much any time of day).
WHERE DO YOU FEEL THE MOST CREATIVE
I work from home 90% of the time, so that’s typically where I feel my most creative! I like to work from coffee shops when I need to answer emails or do more administrative tasks, but i feel most creative at home. When I am working on designing and sketching new products, I like to light a candle and put on some good music.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO CREATE SLUMLOVE SWEATER CO
Slumlove was born out of my love for the people of Kenya and my love of fashion. I had worked for a non profit in the Kenyan slum of Kibera for several years and wanted to help bring dignity and restitution to the community I love. The mission of Slumlove has always been to bring jobs and education to people living in Kibera. We provide safe employment and sustainable income to more than 20 women in Kenya and have donated thousands of dollars towards high school scholarships to children living in the slums.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EXCITING MOMENT SO FAR OF SLUMLOVE SWEATER CO
Other than the day our website first went live in 2013 and we began selling sweaters, the most exciting day was a couple of years ago when I was interviewed about ethical fashion on a television show in LA. I got to fly out there for a day and meet some incredible people - it was a unique opportunity and something I will never forget!
HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE YOUR BRAND STANDS OUT
The most important thing when it comes to curating a brand is consistency. We are very intentional about the message every social media post, photo, comment, etc. conveys and always make sure whatever we put out there aligns with our mission and vision, both creatively and professionally. Having a brand that is clear and recognizable is super important. We also want to tell the unique story of Slumlove. There aren’t a lot of clothing lines that are made in Africa and give back to great causes there. It’s something that is unique to us and our customers loving hearing about it.
WHO HAS HAD THE MOST CREATIVE INFLUENCE ON YOUR LIFE
That’s a tough question! There hasn’t really been one person or brand that sticks out as the major creative influence for me. I feel like I find my inspiration in lots of little things and it’s constantly changing.
HOW HAS SOCIAL HELPED SLUMLOVE SWEATER CO
Social media is invaluable to small businesses, especially in fashion. Slumlove is (for the most part) an online only retailer, so telling our story online is crucial. Most of our customer traffic comes from Instagram and Facebook, so creating clear marketing strategies that utilize these outlets is a big part of what we do. And fashion is a visual medium. Being able to share photos via social media is important.
WHAT OTHER ARTISTS HAVE YOU LOVED COLLABORATING WITH
I’ve personally had the pleasure of helping produce clothing for other brands, and that’s been really fun. I love getting to design clothes, but directly producing them is something I’ve grown to love. I am hoping to do more of this in the future!
HOW IMPORTANT IS SHOPPING LOCAL TO YOU
I only buy clothing from ethical and responsible brands, so being able to shop locally is very important. I have to know that the company I’m supporting and the product I’m purchasing was made with love and is having a positive impact on the world. It’s definitely easier to find those types of products when you buy from local makers, because you know exactly who you are supporting and where your money is going.
HOW HAS THE AUSTIN COMMUNITY SUPPORTED YOU
The Austin community has been great to Slumlove. Austin really is about community over competition. There were several times in the very beginning stages of Slumlove where I would go to other local brands I respected to get advice. No one ever acted like they were too busy to help me or afraid to tell me their secrets to success. People willingly went out of their way and gave of their time to help me out, and it meant so much. Only one time did someone I reached out to turn me down - and it actually hurt! I’ll never forget that feeling, so I always try to make time for anyone who comes to me looking for advice or help. We’ve also been supported by local Austin news and media outlets, which has been great.
SHARE ABOUT THE BOND/RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SLUMLOVE AND KENYA
There will never be a Slumlove without Kenya. It’s the whole reason Slumlove began and a relationship that won’t end. It’s a breathtaking country with so much beauty and soul. My absolute favorite part of my job is being in Kenya working with our team and spending time in Kibera.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT SLUMLOVE SWEATER CO
I wish people could know just how deeply personal everything about Slumlove is. I work directly with our team in Kenya and know every knitters name. I’ve gotten to meet all of the kids from Kibera that we’ve helped send to high school. I love being directly involved in every aspect of Slumlove because I can guarantee social responsibility.
WHY DO YOU CHOOSE TO BUILD A BRAND AROUND ETHICAL VALUES + USING “FASHION AS A FORCE FOR GOOD”
The whole mission of Slumlove revolves around doing good. From sourcing local and environmentally friendly materials, providing living wages to our Kenyan employees, and giving back to a great education non-profit in the Kibera slum, we want every aspect of our company to be making the most positive impact possible. With that being said, there’s no perfect company or product and we still have plenty of room to grow, but everyday we are striving to keep Slumlove as ethical and responsible as we can.
AUSTIN LOCAL INSIDER RECOMMENDATIONS
FAVORITE LOCAL FOOD TRUCK(S)
Paperboy, Veracruz Tacos, Shaved Ice Island, Sno Beach, Patrizi’s, Thai-Kun
FAVORITE LOCAL CURATED BOUTIQUES
Moss, Garment, Esby, Thatcher Buda, Hacienda
FAVORITE LOCAL COFFEE SHOPS
Patika, Seventh Flag, Manana, Radio (I’m a South-Austin girl)
MUST-SEE RECOMMENDATION(S) FOR THOSE TRAVELING TO AUSTIN
If it’s nice outside, I’d recommend visitors to Austin going for a long walk around Town Lake or taking a paddle board on the river. You get such beautiful views of the city along the trail and I think it makes you appreciate Austin more. I’d also suggest strolling along South Congress and grabbing a drink on the back patio of Hotel San Jose. Of course, you can’t miss the barbecue, either.
WHERE CAN SUPPORTERS FIND YOUR LOVELY DESIGNS
You can purchase all of our products on our website www.slumlove.com!