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The team

We're the Baobab Bunch! A merry band of bandits, who envisioned a world where shopping for ethical and sustainable fashion could be a pleasure and delight. We’ve pooled our varied skills to realise that dream in the beaut that is Baobab Avenue.
The Baobab Avenue Team

Lenny Balston

Founder and CEO

Lenny Balston

Lenny likes to think that CEO stands for Cool Ethical Operator and we’re happy to let her believe that. Lenny was introduced to the fashion industry aged nineteen when she started working at her family’s clothing factory in Jo’burg; producing garments for many of South Africa’s high street brands.

Her career as a developer began on the graduate scheme at IBM, before moving on to roles at Philips and Samsung.

In 2005 Lenny and her hubby Ceri setup the conscious lifestyle online magazine Harmonious Living. It quickly became one of South Africa’s top 200 most visited websites and the happy couple were regularly featured on TV, radio and print media.

Following the birth of their beautiful boy and a move to the UK, Lenny’s spent the last few years developing websites for small and medium-sized companies and organisations like The Fluff-a-torium in their home town corking Dorking.

Baobab Avenue works like perfect tick-tock clock-work thanks to Lenny’s sublime coding capabilities.

Ceri Balston

Founder and business development

Ceri Balston

Ceri cut his teeth in the world of digital entrepreneurship with his wonderful wife Lenny (our esteemed CEO) at Harmonious Living. He led the growth and editorial strategies über successfully. Due to popular demand from the Harmonious Living readership the dynamic duo went on to set up Salsanet Solutions, a web development company, to help other startups and small and medium enterprises with their digital presence.

When they arrived in the UK, Ceri joined the e-commerce team at esure and clambered up the ranks for six years to become Head of Marketing for both the esure and Sheilas’ Wheels brands.

Since then he’s enjoyed a host of digital leadership roles including Head of Conversion at Love Holidays and Head of Digital at pan disability charity Scope. He’s continued to hone his expertise in user experience, conversion rate optimisation, accessibility, and digital product management. Baobab Avenue’s enjoying good success thanks to Ceri’s marvellous marketing and top-calibre conversion rate optimisation skills.

Ade Webb

Advisor and backer

Ade Webb

Ade recently retired from a thirty year career in marketing and communications roles for companies including esure, Direct Line and Virgin. He’s busy enjoying his “retirement” giving us the benefit of his insights and experience. Not one to rest on his laurels Ade is also a non-executive Director at Gocompare and Chairman of LAB, one of the UK's leading neuromarketing agencies.

Ade’s also Baobab Avenue’s all-important initial backer. A position he’s comfortable in as the main backer of Adeki Performance Management. He’s invested in and served as a director of Gas Tag Ltd for two years which won the Lloyds Bank National Business Award for New Business of the Year in 2018.

Ade is the one to thank for transforming Baobab Avenue from an appealing luminous idea into a practical reality.

Hayley Baines-Buffery

Advisor - Ethics and sustainability

Hayley Baines-Buffery

Hayley is our all-important sustainability expert. She’s also the Chief Operating Officer of leading sustainability charity Bioregional and an Associate Member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.

Over the last thirteen years Hayley’s stacked up a staggering shed-load of experience working with over 30 large international retailers, manufacturers and public sector bodies including: B&Q, John Lewis, Kingfisher Group, Nokia, WRAP, Cundall, Nando’s, Innocent Drinks, London 2012 Olympics, and Transport for London. She knows her stuff and sees straight through any green-sheen (or greenwashing) some vendors try and pull off. No-one can pull the wool over Hayley’s eyes.

Hayley’s done the due diligence on all the brill’ brands on Baobab Avenue ensuring that all the vendors we feature meet our stringent standards. But her work doesn’t end there - she’s also helping us ensure that we’re a leading ethical and sustainable business.

Hayley is the reason you can have every confidence that each piece you spot on Baobab Avenue has been made in ways which are kind to the planet, kind to the workers and any animals involved.

Chris Gibbins

Advisor - User experience and optimisation

Chris Gibbins

Chris has worked for over fifteen years as a customer experience and human-centred design expert. His superlative skills are in designing and continually optimising digital experiences.

He’s worked with heaps of different fashion retail brands including ASOS, Timberland, River Island, House of Fraser, M&S, and Vans. He’s currently Director of UX & Optimisation at the creative agency Biglight working predominantly in retail.

Not just terrific on the tech front Chris is also a stonking speaker, highly regarded within the design community, he gets to share his ingenious ideas at events across the world regularly, including the Conversion Conference in Las Vegas.

Your awesome experience of navigating our beautiful Baobab Avenue website (designed by his wife) is thanks to Chris’ top-notch insight and understanding on how to make the customer experience as dreamy as poss. You get why we call Alice and Chris the dream-team!

Alice Chan-Gibbins

Head of Design

Alice Chan-Gibbins

Alice has an abundance of design experience and knows way more than just a thing or two about design. For the last fifteen years she’s worked in large creative agencies including Isobar, Havas and M&C Saatchi.

Alice’s ideas are refreshingly original and her approach is calmly creative. Somehow she craftily combines this creativity with a constant consideration of the practicality of her designs. So not only does her work look stunning, she ensures that you will enjoy navigating your way through her designs. Her other sensational skill is an incredible eye for detail - she can spot a pixel outta place from a hundred yards away! It’s this cool, rare combo’ that’s ensured her smashing success over the years.

Baobab Avenue’s light, precise, clean, and lovely look and fab fresh feel (if we do say so ourselves) is down to Alice and her fantastic fusion of skills.

Rai Musk

Head of Content

Rai Musk

Rai has fifteen years experience working in Communications within the charity sector. She was Comms Manager for a human rights NGO based in the Middle East for ten years, developing their voice, content and branding. She currently works for an environmental UK charity, producing content, editing their twice-yearly magazine and running their emerging human-rights and women’s empowerment projects. Rai also runs a vegan website jam-packed with scrummy recipes.

Rai’s responsible for the voice of Baobab Avenue; taking inspiration from Alice’s delightful design Rai’s word-smithing is light and refreshing as well as informative.

The kinda casual, cheeky tone, illuminating ever-green info and perceptive posts your eyes get to feast on here at Baobab Avenue are down to Rai’s enjoyment of playing with words.