We are excited to be collaborating with Kelly Eastwood on our first charity collection. As major advocates of travel, flair and colour – we’ve long been fans of The London Chatter, which is why its been a delight to create The Tembo Collection to raise money and awareness in the fight against Elephant poaching. So a second first for The Auree Journal, we though a good chance for a cuppa and a Q+A. Move over Parky.
Kelly was raised in East Africa, idyllically feeding giraffe orphans in the sunshine after school, wearing a colourful array of ‘Hakuna Matata’ t’shirts teamed with leggings and dusty Safari boots… Fast-forward several years, and having survived an all girl’s British boarding school, attended LAMDA, gained an MA from Edinburgh, and trodden various creaky boards, Kelly, with her classically eclectic style and red-stained lips, now writes The London Chatter, a fashion and lifestyle blog from the city where she now hangs her hat (and dresses, and capes, and…). Kelly also now has her own page, ‘Kelly’s Style Chatter,’ published each month in Hello! Fashion Monthly.
What was it like to grow up in Africa and how has it influenced you?
It was really magical; the animals, the epic landscapes, the beautiful beaches, the amazing mix of cultures. From an early age I was always aware of ‘the bigger picture’ and as such, however exciting and frivolous the whirlwind I sometimes find myself in, I always feel pretty grounded.
Tell us how the collaboration with Auree came about?
Having worn a personalised Auree bracelet rather religiously for about a year before finally meeting Amelia, we decided to meet for breakfast so I could learn more about the brand. It became apparent we both wanted to do a charity collection, and over avocado and eggs we not only decided to collaborate, but had already started sketching designs before the bill had even arrived. Amelia was very supportive over my plea to support the conservation efforts for elephants in Africa, a huge passion of mine. We agreed that neither myself or Auree would make a bean out of the collaboration, with all profits going directly to For Rangers, a wonderful campaign started by friends of mine back home.
How did your Kenyan roots inspire the Tembo collection?
Since I was a child, I’ve always been absolutely in awe of elephants; rather than Nellie the Elephant it was Kelly the Elephant! As well as going on safari regularly, I would frequently visit the orphaned ele’s at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust near where I grew up in Nairobi, which allowed me from an early age to be acutely aware of the heartbreaking effects of poaching. As I’ve got older, many of my friends now work in conservation, and I’ve learnt so much more through them.
I love Maasai beads and the design of our bracelets were inspired by the single white Maasai bead bracelet I usually wear. The beads are so synonymous with the tribal, nomadic cultures back in Kenya, that it seemed an obvious element to incorporate into the jewellery, through the textured circular bead effect. I also now have permanent Maasai beading around my ankles, put on by the Samburu mamas at Ol Malo, a family-run ranch in Laikipia, which I regularly flaunted at London Fashion Week – paired with some good old Jimmy Choos naturally!
You are a frequent wildlife campaigner, what attracts you most about the important work For Rangers and Tusk carry out?
I think it’s the urgency, and the respect. Make no mistake, this is ultimately a war – a battle to save some of the most iconic wildlife before it’s too late, and it’s the rangers who are on the front line of this fight, daily risking their lives for these animals. For this reason, they deserve our recognition and support. Earlier this year I visited Kenya’s beautiful Lewa conservancy, where I saw Edward Ndiritu (who was awarded with Tusk’s inaugural Wildlife Ranger Award, presented by Prince William in 2015) and his team awarded with silver pins of honor for their outstanding work, and the pride was tangible.
For Rangers is a really small, grass roots campaign, with no overhead costs. It’s headed by passionate, knowledgeable people who have taken on extraordinary challenges to raise both money and awareness (including the Marathon de Sable and the Peruvian Jungle Run). Given that I’m hardly renowned for my athleticism (I’ve not moved quicker than a strut since the mid-90’s), I thought I would be better suited to help the cause accessorising not exercising…!
What has been your most memorable experience in Africa?
I’m having a stream of flashbacks of both the most exhilarating and also peaceful moments. Aside from my sister’s week long beach wedding near our home, and regularly visiting the Giraffe Manor’s endangered Rothschild giraffe after school when I was young, I would say anytime I’ve been lucky enough to go on safari. Watching a sensational African sunset, G&T in hand (obviously), with that buzz of wildlife around you, is beyond humbling, and for me, completely calming.
What are your little black book entries and insider advice for anyone looking to visit Kenya?
Giraffe Manor in Nairobi. If you’re not staying as a guest at this beautiful house, I would definitely try and book in advance to have afternoon tea there amongst the endangered Rothschild giraffe that live at the sanctuary.
I would obviously recommend you go on safari to enjoy the exceptional wildlife we’re so desperately trying to preserve, and Richard’s Camp in the Maasai Mara is really great fun. For unforgettable experiences with the nomadic Samburu communities, both Ol Malo and Sasaab offer unbeatable opportunities.
I would also head to the coast. Some of Kenya’s long, white sandy beaches are rated amongst the best in the world. Watamu, a pristine marine reserve, is perfect for a family holiday, and close to Kilifi, where you can spend an evening sailing along the twinkling lit coast on the Tamarind Dhow.
What are your must have items that you pack in your suitcase for a trip to Kenya?
Inside my vintage-style Brics suitcase, I always carry my Ali-Lamu safari bag so I can decant and travel light from within Kenya at a moment’s notice. A good pair of Penelope Chilvers safari boots are imperative, and I love my massive Winser London massive cashmere for both the airplane and for enveloping myself in on those chilly early morning game drives on Safari. When the suns up, I’m always prepared with a good straw trilby from Jess Collett Milliner, my tortoiseshell Taylor Morris Zero sunglasses, a bikini or two from Beach Cafe, a Pitusa kaftan, my SISLEY Factor 50 and a kikoi bought locally from a beach stall. Rae Feather does some great personalised beach baskets and I generally throw everything haphazardly into one of those.
Tell us about your most treasured piece of jewellery and the story behind it.
A Victorian pearl and sapphire heart-shaped locket in the shape of a heart. My best friend passed away when we were eighteen, and her mother gave it to me. There are flowers in the the back of it which my friend pressed and helped put in there when she was four. It’s my treasure of treasures.
What do you love most about your job?
In or out of London, I love the variety of the people I meet in such different fields, and being witness to such differing creativity. This platform has not only given me the ability to talk about and share the things I love, but also to champion the causes that are close to my heart, which is something I really focus on.
How would you describe your personal style?
Always colourful, always with lipstick (Tom Ford’s Plum Lush) and always with a touch of leopard print.
By Day: Topshop boyfriend jeans, Rose Rankin sneakers, over sized Boden linen shirts and Chinti and Parker cashmere (I particularly love their new Miffy collaboration – too cute!). I carry all my work and laptop in the tortoiseshell Aspinal of London Editor’s Bag – it’s so chic and even charges my phone for me – next level!
By Night: Jimmy Choo heels or L.K Bennett boots, Hill & Friends Tweency bag, and a swooshing Matthew Williamson dress. A blow dry or ethereal braids by Clo and Flo ups my glam game considerably.
What are your style tips for wearing jewellery?
I love stacking and mixing metals, which is why I particularly love the Tembo Collection – you can mix and match the colours and stack them together which looks great, yet still unfussy.