1/First of all, we would love to know about your business, how you started and what inspired you to start Lil & Co. We would appreciate if you could give us a short statement explaining your journey and outlining things that inspire you.
Hello, my name’s Sara and I am a member as well as being the ‘informal leader’ of Lil & co. Lil & co specialise in creating natural alternatives, purposely staying clear of synthetic fibres or dyes as we believe in reducing the amount of chemicals used in our daily lives. I have been harnessing the power and abundance of nature in my own life for many years, feeling the healing properties through the reduction of stress, fatigue, brain fog and other common symptoms of burnt out modern living. This journey inspired me to share the message with others and Lil was born. The idea of starting the business as a collective came from my belief that experiences are better shared and building a collective could create a community of ideas, diversity and creative shared expression.
2/So, Lil & Co - Where did the name come from?
Lil was my Grandmother's name. When selecting a name, it was important to choose an emotive name and one that embodied the core values of the collective: gratitude and empowerment. My Grandmother has hugely influenced my life and she paved the way for me to live a life that I love. So the name is a nod to her and a message to all that we believe in celebrating the people that came before us, the people we collaborate with and those that will follow. We believe in empowering one another and that kindness wins. Always.
3/As a small business owner, what's your work/life balance like? Do you ever stop working (haha)?
Haha I like the honesty in this question! We are very lucky that we intentionally designed the collective to add value to our own lives as well as those that we work with. We decided very early on that Lil would work for us and not the other way around. We all have other projects/jobs and it was important to us that we show up whole heartedly in all aspects of our lives. This means that we plan our projects so that they are in harmony with our lives, the seasons, our cycles and what is happening in both our customer’s lives and the world in general.
4/Where do you get your ideas from and motivation to keep going? Are there any particular websites, films, social media profiles that you motivate you to keep going?
The benefit of intentionally planning our projects with balance at the heart means that we are able to create space for our customers to tell us what they most need and want. We adore loving on our customers and that’s the whole point right? We aren’t here for global domination, we just want to find our people and do everything we can to help them. So the majority of our ideas come from our customer community but we also take motivation from our natural surroundings. As a natural dyer, I love nothing more than exploring our local area for new dye plants. I have my own dye garden and how it fairs (and fails) dictates the palette for that season. Last year I fell in love with my marigolds and couldn’t bear to part with them so I steamed the petals onto my clothes. Now, in the depth of our miserable British winters, I get a daily reminder of my wonderfully vibrant marigolds that I nurtured from seed and sat amongst enjoying picnics and long summer nights. It instantly transports me back to those times. I can’t help but be inspired by that kind of beauty and how natural dye allows you to continue enjoying our natural environment long after the seasons have changed.
5/Is there anything that you'd tell yourself who was starting Lil & Co? Words of advice?
Celebrate what makes you different! In the early days we were catering for individuals who wanted naturally dyed products that behaved the same way as synthetically mass produced products and for the same price. This meant that our product range was limited and our prices were unsustainably low. By following this strategy we were denying ourselves of the very essence of what made us unique. As soon as we embraced the unique properties of natural dye and the benefits of our ethical and eco-friendly production model, we realised that it was our super power rather than another hurdle to overcome. So my words of advice are, you won’t be for everyone so find the people who understand your unique message and serve them authentically with everything you’ve got! Eco-brands can’t and shouldn’t try to replicate models and constructs of cheaply and unethically produced products. Stand out and own the difference.