Designer Interview: Lillyella

It’s been awhile since I did a local interview feature. In the interest of reminding you to shop local and support independent artists here’s an interview with Nicole, the very busy designer behind Lillyella. She’s an interesting 29 year old, with seven tattoos, a love of peanut butter, a menagerie of animals to take care of, and at times is a dance instructor. Shes’ also building a barn! Interested? So was I. She’s made the leap to working for herself, so if you’re curious how she manages to juggle it all and make it successful, read on.

How and when was Lillyella created?

Since I already owned a business (an LLC), I added a DBA name to it, Lillyella, to use for selling my jewelry. I actually created the name/logo. etc a few years ago when I had hopes of doing craft shows and things of the sort, which I never had time for.   Where did the name come from you may ask? Good question! I tossed around lots of other options such as libelulle, peach pod, cant remember anymore! But in the end, I’ve always loved the name lilly – I really like waterlilies, lily of the valley, lilies of all sorts, and ella fitzgerald is amazing – so the combination just seemed like a winner! And I love it. People often think it’s my name and I’ll admit, sometimes I don’t correct them 🙂

What is your typical working day like?

I am trying very hard to be disciplined – but it is so difficult! Instead of filling orders and doing design work, my beads are calling and new designs are dancing in my head – but now feeling more pressure than ever without a steady guaranteed paycheck coming in, I have been pretty good. I always wake up early, even though Im usually up until about 2am. I check my email, poke around etys a bit, check my treasury lists, plan for new ones, answer any convos from people, update my blog and make about 13 lists every day. From there it just depends on what takes priority. Somedays I only do design work, some days I do billing (boring, but important!), some days I only make jewelry, somedays I only run errands! Most days I do a little bit of everything. But through the day I check my email and etsy constantly – every half hour watching the front page change! Everytime an order comes in I send a thank you email, print the order and file it into the appropriate “to do” pile. Unfortunately at this point I can’t call it a 9-5 job. It’s more like a 7:30 – 2 a.m. job, but Im hoping now that I am working on my own and not balancing 3 jobs, that I can get into a better routine.
Dayflower Earrings,$11.50

Where do you find your inspiration?
This is probably a typical answer, but I find inspiration from my favorite things. Since “design” in general is needed for every aspect of what I do, I kind of feel I look at the world a bit different than some other people. It takes me 3 times as long to decide what I want to eat at a restaurant because I a not reading the menu – but analyzing the font selections, colors, layout, paper, how it ties into the rest of the decor – etc!

I study billboards to determine if the message was appropriate marketing for the product, I check out the little logos on the back of cars to see if they match the name and style of the vehicle. Other than that, I love nature, of course. I find amazing color combination in plants and animals. I find materials that represent things I like and then figure out the best way to utilize their potential.
What do you like best about your business and what do you like the least?
I love the creativity involved, I really love making people happy – creating things that bring people joy – even if it is just a piece of jewelry. I love making custom orders and wedding jewelry, I feel very honored to do that. I love organizing my supplies – most people will tell you I’m anal-retentive! What I like least – hard to say – maybe taping shipping labels to packages? Or possibly always being paranoid that my pieces are not perfect and being nervous that someone will not like it.
How do you market yourself and what sort of customer service do you provide?
Marketing – not as much as I should do yet. I started a blog recently ( but it’s quite new and does not have much traffic yet. I do write tidbits about my life but mostly use it to offer special sales on wednesdays and fridays, have contests and other things to get people involved, showcase other etsy shops and show off new designs.  Aside from that I spend a ridiculous amount of time in the Etsy Treasuries. It’s so addicting! I make lists as often as I can and I love browsing through and commenting on other peoples lists. I have made so many amazing etsy friends this way and have been featured on the front page a few times so far, which is the best exposure you can hope for.
Customer service – it’s very important to me. I have also become friends with many people who have purchased jewelry from me – including pen pals all around the world! I always send a thank you email when I get an order, telling them when the order will ship and asking them to make sure they let me know what they think of the piece when they receive it. I give discounts on large orders and often include extra goodies in my shipments. Since I am graphic designer, packaging is very important to me, so I always make sure that it looks really nice. I offer gift wrapping at no charge and I always include a hand written thank you with each order.
I also offer lots of customization options on my pieces, which I think people appreciate. Whether it is changing the color of a bead, changing the length of a necklace or bracelet etc. The nicest thing that has happened to me recently is a girl from hawaii who purchased a bracelet from me sent me a handmade card and a box of candy to thank me! I guess that means I’m doing something right!

Where can customers find your designs (if other than on Etsy)

Currently, only a few places – a website which features all handmade goods called Miss Princess, and three retail stores in Hong Kong. I may also be in some local venues soon (when I have more time to pursue) and will probably also do a few select art shows.
Is there anything else you would like to tell Art Addict readers?
I’m bad at these kind of questions!
For the artist readers who are thinking about further pursuing what may just be a hobby now – go for it! It may be ridiculously scary, but you only live once. But be smart about it – talk to someone who has done it, save money, write a business plan for yourself, and stay disciplined!
For the art lovers out there – continue to support handmade, local artists etc – chances are, you could be changing someone’s life.
Garden Branch Bracelet