We LOVE working with the makers and creatives that make Deeply so special to us. Their hearts for their craft, for beauty, and for others inspire us, and we want to celebrate them for the unique and necessary ways they contribute to their corners of the world.

Today, we want to introduce you to our friend, Ava Darnell, of Slumlove Sweater Co. Slumlove believes that fashion can be a force for good. All of their clothing is handmade in Kenya, where their employees are paid fair wages, treated with respect, and are given the opportunities and resources needed to provide a better life for themselves and their families. All of their products are made from 100% natural, organic and recycled materials. In addition, they also give back to a non-profit that provides high school scholarships to children living in one of the world's largest slums. Amazing. We are so proud to stand with Ava and Slumlove. We know you will love her just as much as we do!


1. Do you have a morning routine? What is it?

I LOVE slow mornings. I typically have coffee in bed with my husband while I answer emails on my laptop. Because of the time difference between my office in Austin and our production facility in Kenya, I usually wake up to a handful of messages and emails from Kenya that have to be answered immediately. If I don’t have an early meeting or somewhere to be, this is always how I start the day.

2. Go-to/favorite outfit to live in every day?

What a tough question! I like to merge style and comfort for everyday, but my schedule looks different daily, so that affects what I wear. For meetings, I try to look put-together, but with some trendy influences. Like a structured silk button down paired with suede heeled booties or a wide brimmed hat. I tend to dress up, even if I’m just out running errands, but I’m a big believer that you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style! Something like a long, flowing dress can look both super put-together, but also be insanely comfortable at the same time. That’s my sweet spot right there.

3. What/who is inspiring your artistry lately? (song, artist, movement, word, book, city, person, friend, band, writer, building, anything! )

I’m always inspired by New York City. I try to get up there as often as possible. I draw inspiration from the buildings, the people, the culture.

4. Have you always wanted to be a fashion designer? 

I’ve wanted to work in fashion for a long, long time. I fell in love with drawing at a super early age and knew I wanted to be an artist. As I grew up and discovered other passions, I realized fashion designing was the specific form of artistry I wanted to pursue. I kind of went down a windy road to get to where I am now, but it’s helped me find my style and voice within designing.

5. Best trip/vacation you’ve ever been on?

I LOVE to travel! I’ve been to 20 countries, so it’s hard for me to pinpoint one favorite place or vacation, as they all bring up such great memories for me. Nothing is better than being in Kenya, but those are typically work trips, not vacation. My husband and I try to take one big trip every year, and I’ve loved every place we’ve traveled to for very different reasons! If I’m with people I love, doing new and adventurous things, and eating good food then I’m happy. Those are the makings of a great trip. But a couple of places that stick out to me specifically are Hawaii and Italy, I have such great memories from traveling to those two places.

6. A favorite quote of yours?

Don’t quit. It’s deep - I know. But these two little words have been extremely important throughout my career.

7. How many jobs / other careers have you explored before landing upon this one? What were some of them?

For a while I pursued media production and thought I might end up working in film or television. I edited videos for a wedding videography company and then worked in the film department for a magazine in Austin. I also created videos to help out a nonprofit I volunteered with in Kenya, and still use it for Slumlove. Even though I’m no longer pursuing a career in this field, I’m glad I have this skill.

8. Has there ever been a season, moment, or form of disappointment or waiting, that you viewed as a failure or setback at the time, but that you see now as a helpful and necessary stepping stone to positivity in your life today? What was it?

I experience this pretty much every day. It’s just the nature of owning your own business and something I’ve had to learn to manage. There’s been so many instances where an exciting opportunity would be presented for Slumlove, whether it was a feature in a big magazine or a campaign with a celebrity, and it wouldn’t end up panning out. But if you don’t give up, there’s pretty much always another great opportunity around the corner. Going through this has taught me that one moment isn't going to make or break your career. Some moments might be bigger or more beneficial than others, but opportunities will always present themselves if you keep working hard. I’ve also learned to be content with slow growth.

9. One fashion or lifestyle staple you can’t live with out?

I wear about five gold rings every day, every where I go. My clothing may change a bit depending on where I’m going or what I’m doing, but my rings will always be the same.

10. Favorite thing about your city?

It’s almost impossible to pick one great thing about Austin. I could talk about the great food, live music, or outdoor activities, but I think my favorite thing about Austin is our community of friends (cheesy, I know). I could find a hip coffee shop in pretty much any big city, but not every city has my adorable nephew. Austin just wouldn’t be the same without my family or friends. Oh, I also like all of the tacos.

11. Who would you want to play you in the movie of your life?

A number of clever, funny ladies. I’m talking Emma Stone, Kristin Wiig, Tina Fey. Anyone who can make me seem way funnier than I really am.

12. One word to describe the current season of life you’re in?

Waiting. This has definitely been a season of waiting, both good and bad. And I’m not good at waiting.

Thank you so much, Ava! You're a joy to work with and learn from!

Today only, take 10% off the Ava Sweater (our exclusive collaboration with Slumlove, named in her honor!) with code SLUMLOVE.



Jillian EdwardsComment