This week’s 5 Question Friday is with Jayme Lowenstein Lillie. I first met Jayme in high school. We worked together briefly at the Tacoma Youth Initiative. Though she hasn’t moved out of the area, she is one of the many friends from high school who I haven’t seen in many years. It turns out that during that time, she’s started Lillipops Designs, an awesome clothing line for children that has even more awesome photos. Here’s Jayme.
1. What is Lillipops Designs?
Lillipops was born from the desire to dress my children in eco-friendly, fashionable clothes that didn’t A. look like they came from the recycle bin and B. didn’t require robbing a bank to buy them. I’ve always been one of those people who loves to troll the thrift stores, and this germ of an idea started brewing. Once I saw past hideous cuts and focused on the raw materials, a whole world of design possibilities opened up for me. I’ve since branched out into organic and authentic vintage textiles, but there is still a love and respect for turning something awful into something beautiful.
2. What has been the biggest challenge in operating your business?
My biggest challenge is honestly a challenge I’ve completely created for myself. I don’t delegate well… I’m a textbook perfectionist. I’m finally starting to understand that I can’t and shouldn’t do it all. There are people out there who are better at public relations, better at marketing, better at accounting, etc., and finding (and hiring) those people frees my time to concentrate on what is really important to me. The last hurdle has been to find qualified assistants that can actually do some of the garment production. I’m getting there.
3. Do you think Tacoma is a good place to start a small business and why or why not?
Honestly, I think Tacoma is as good a place as any to start a business. I know there are resources available to start-ups, but I haven’t really reached out in that way. One thing that Tacoma has going for it is a strong sense of community. Even if you aren’t using official community business resources, there is a wealth of highly creative people here that really do want to see others succeed. Going into this venture, I thought there would be more of a competitive spirit between designers/photographers/business owners, but I’ve really found that if YOU are willing to contribute to the community in a positive way, doors open right up.
4. You’ve got some amazing shots of children in your clothes. How do you manage to get those shots?
I’m a big believer in trade value. I’ve never paid a photographer to get a shot. But I have a waiting list for photographers around the globe that want a chance to photograph my pieces. It’s a two-way street… the photographers get style samples to keep, and I get images that have completely changed the way my business is perceived on a national level. I have incredible relationships with professional photographers here in the US, South Korea, Abu Dhabi, Australia and Canada, and I make sure my customers know all about their talents. In return, the photographers I work with promote my business and offer incentives to their clients for purchasing my pieces for styled shoots. At this point, I’d say a third of my customers are professional photographers that want to recreate the look for their clients that they see in my marketing.
5. What’s next for Lillipops Designs?
Good question… and one that makes my head spin if I think too much about it. I’m collaborating with three other national children’s wear designers on a project of epic proportions that will undoubtedly bring some major changes to my marketing and workflow. We’re keeping the details under wraps for now, but it’s going to be huge, and really fills a gap in the children’s wear market. I’ve also stepped into the women’s wear arena, and have a new branch of Lillipops called Poppy and Lilli. This line is focused on really comfortable, timeless pieces that work on every body. My cardigan wrap is my signature piece, but I’ll be expanding into vintage lingerie inspired loungewear soon. Think Doris Day does yoga at the park.
Above all, I’ll be managing “The Lillipad” (aka the household), raising three incredible kiddos, nurturing a marriage, and trying to find time to sleep every once in awhile. OK… THAT’S the best part of working in Tacoma. A coffee place on just about every corner.