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Coffee With…Liya Kebede

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Maia Harms & Courtesy of Liya Kebede

To say supermodel Liya Kebede has made the most of her time in the spotlight would be an understatement. In addition to her numerous fashion campaigns, covers, and spreads that have made her one of the most famous faces out there, the philanthropic-minded stunner helms the instantly recognizable Lemlem label (which is made in and gives back to her native Ethiopia), runs The Liya Kebede Foundation, committed to saving the lives of mothers and newborns in Africa, and has served as the World Health Organization’s Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health for a decade. Oh, and she’s also the mom of son Suhul, 14, and Raee, 9. Here, the boundary-breaker sits down for a cup of joe and a chat.

How do you take your coffee? “A single shot cappuccino with one sugar.”

How do you treat yourself? “A quick getaway does the trick.”

What are some of your favorite spots to go with your kids (or without your kids) in New York City? “Trolling for ramen gems, tennis at Central Park, and the Angelika theater.”

Flats or heels? “Flats always await at the end of the runway.”

Early bird or night owl? “Definitely not a night owl!”

What time do you wake up in the morning? What’s your routine like? “Around 5-6 on most days. My most consistent morning routine is reaching for my phone to check my calendar.”

What’s a favorite book or one you are currently reading? “I’m reading The Untethered Soul.”


Favorite film? “Anything by Kurosawa.”

What’s the best piece of motherhood advice you’ve received? “Mother knows best.”

What excites you most about motherhood? “Seeing the kind of people my children are becoming.”

What makes you most nervous? “The way time flies.”

Are there any major ways parenting in Ethiopia differs from parenting in the U.S.? “There are many cultural differences, but a parent’s love and worry is universal.”

What’s one of your favorite childhood memories? “A trip my father and I took to Asia. The ‘daddy’s girl’ memories I cherish.”

What won’t we find in your closet? “Not too many things are missing. It’s a zoo in there!”

What’s your biggest flaw? “My schedule.”

What’s the proudest moment of your career? “I’m just happy and grateful I get to do what I do.”

What’s up next for you? “We have a lot of great new projects on the horizon at Lemlem. We are expanding our production throughout Africa and have some really cool collaborations coming out in the next few months. ​It is a very exciting time at both Lemlem and the Liya Kebede Foundation!”


For more on Liya, check out her website lkfound.org.

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