Where did your initial vision for Lilla P come from?
I have always had a love for simplicity and ease. During my college years I worked at a boutique in Athens, GA at the time when the style went from baggy tees to the fitted “babydoll” tee. I loved this trend and embraced it completely. Several years later, while living in Atlanta, I decided to set out to create my own version of the perfect tee- hence the beginning of Lilla P.
What struggles or triumphs in your life affected your interest in creating Lilla P?
I come from a family business background. My family had a business called Morris Sokol Furniture on King Street in Charleston. Retail runs in my blood! I worked in fashion retail throughout college as well as post college always wanting to one day work for myself.
I did not know that I would eventually move to NYC from Atlanta but as fate has it, I met my husband (and business partner) and moved to the city in 2001. I’m not sure I would have built Lilla P into the business that it is had I not made that move.
What southern charm aspects inspired your brand?
I started Lilla P with the basic cotton tee - 1 style, 5 colors in 1 size. The line has developed into a lifestyle collection that includes tees, tops, sweaters, and dresses and is synergistic to the cotton - and it’s ease and sensibility. Being from the south, cotton and breathable fabrics is something that I grew up with and are naturally a part of Lilla P. While we sell to stores across North America, a large percentage of our customer base is in the Southeast. While I personally don’t wear a great deal of color, my customers crave color and each season, there is always color to round out the neutrals in the collection.
Can you tell us some special moments in the life of Lilla P that inspired your designs or decision making?
As I mentioned, the brand started with a simple tee. I added a few styles and expanded the size range. But I will never forget one of my customers, a boutique owner, commenting that they would love to buy more from me but that they needed more product. That was a pivotal point for me when I realized that I needed to add other categories, different fabrics and increase the product offering as a whole. I did this slowly and carefully but I went from 2 deliveries a year to 10 with 4 delivery seasons a year.
My husband and I travel often which has been a source of inspiration and it has also opened up opportunities to bring in product from other countries. Most recently, we added India to the list. The product we have added has given the collection new textures and patterns that compliment the great basics that we are known for.
I started the company before e-commerce or social media (now I’m aging myself, yet gracefully). There was not a platform to brand yourself or your brand story other than PR and the product itself. Our website and social media have given us the opportunity to breathe life into the brand and who the Lilla P woman is. The digital landscape is ever-changing and continues to transform the way we build brand recognition and engage with customers.
What was your "I made it" moment? If any?
It took a long time for me to step back and realize the business we built over the years. I have my hands in all aspects of the business and I’m truly “in it” on a day to day basis. We recently celebrated our 20 year Anniversary and that gave me the opportunity to reflect back on the different stages of the business, the successes and the failures (or learning lessons). I have an archive of all of my linesheets and lookbooks throughout the years. Flipping back through them, gives me the opportunity to see how far we have come as a brand.
When a woman sees the Lilla P brand, what do you want her to think?
I want her to think about our quality, our beautiful fabrics and about a product that is perfectly on trend. I also think it’s important for the consumer to know that Lilla P is a female founded business and that there is someone behind the brand. We want women to feel empowered to take on the day when wearing our clothing.
Why are women entrepreneurs important in the business world?
There continues to be such incredible focus on equality for women - especially in the business world. It’s exciting to be a female founded business today- I work with incredible women within my own business and surround myself with other women entrepreneurs. We are incredibly supportive of one another and there is strength in numbers!