Thursday, December 17, 2009

Pay it Forward - Everyone Loves a Compliment!

This week I received a lovely letter from a customer in Indianapolis. Her experience with LILL began when a friend, sporting a LILL bag, told her about my business. She loved the bag and checked out our website. She found that we offered home parties in her area and contacted our Indianapolis rep, Amy, to set up a party. She had a wonderful party experience (I'll share her words later in this post) and then attended a second event Amy hosted at a local salon. She has quickly become a LILL lover. I personally love the story of how she came to find out about LILL - through a friend with a bag she loved - and, how she came to get a few of her own - through a rep who loves what she does. It speaks directly to the essence of LILL and thus I truly appreciated that this customer wrote in about her experience. Receiving letters like this really make my day.

While I obviously loved the letter, the point of my blogging about it is that it reminded me how important it is to compliment others for things that you appreciate. I often find myself pleasantly surprised by service or products and think to myself "what a great experience" or "I love this product." I don't, however, take the time to tell the person behind that experience or product how much I appreciate their help or their product. For example - just yesterday, I was going through my favorite drive thru. (Yes, I am a fast food junky)! It is my favorite drive thru, not because of the food or speed of service, but because every time I go there the staff is just really friendly and nice. Working in fast food is difficult - but this staff is always so pleasant and happy. I think about this every time I go there, but I never compliment the service. I will next time.

And, as I think about it there are several other services and products that I love and this letter has inspired me to speak up about it. I plan to shoot off a few emails to other businesses that I love and hopefully make someone else's day. My little way of paying it forward...

Here is an excerpt from the letter I am writing about:

"The primary point of writing this letter is to tell you what an amazing team member you have in Amy (our Indy rep). She was wonderful to work with and helped me set up my party for about ten of my friends. When she came to my house she was professional and fun. She was wonderful in assisting all of the girls in finding what they truly wanted. The thing I liked most about Amy, was that she was the "anti" saleswoman. Never once did she try to force a bag on someone. She consistently said she wanted all of us to love what we designed and never forced anyone into a decision or a purchase. You could also tell that she loved what she was selling. She was able to show us so many examples of items that she had designed and used on a regular basis. My LILL purse party was one of the most fun things I have done with my friends and everyone was thrilled with their purchase. All in all, I want to thank you for creating LILL. I can not tell you enough how much I love your product and your staff. Not only have you created a wonderful product, but also a fun opportunity for people to get together and do something different. I have been to jewelry parties, Pampered Chef parties, Mary Kay parties and none of them come close to comparing with the fun my friends and I have had at the LILL parties."

Jen Velarde

Monday, December 14, 2009

How do you use today's technology?

I went to a holiday party this weekend where the conversation turned to how long we have been out of college and how much technology has changed how we live today. When I graduated in 1995, I had never sent an email, the internet was no where on my radar screen and all of my training for work in the world of interior design had been done with pencil in hand vs. on a CAD system. We have been talking about this at LILL lately as well and while I have since emersed myself into technology and it runs most of our operations today - I didn't "grow up" with it like those 10-15 years or so younger than me.

Technology for me is something I have to think about versus something that is ingrained in my daily routine. I have dabbled in blogging, lightly use facebook and have yet to personally twitter. I keep my blackberry close at hand most of the time, primarily for email. I just started to understand the purpose of texting - and actually really like it. All this is great, but it is December, 2009. And, so, you might say I am pretty far behind the times in terms of keeping pace with some of my more technologically savvy customers. I feel the technology gap each time we discuss ways to reach this portion of our demographic. With all of the options that social media provides it can be a bit overwhelming to decipher which methods are the best tools to stay in touch. I find myself probing anyone who seems "totally connected" for their ideas and what they are doing now to communicate to friends, find out about events, promotions and products etc.

One idea we recently tried that was successful for us was working with Groupon - a collective buying program - where we adverstised a special purchase opportunity to their mailing list. It generated a huge amount of buzz for us in the first two markets we tried - Chicago and KC. Since we participated, I am on the daily deal email list and it is one of my new favorite ways to find out about different businesses and specials around my city. (We are the deal of the day in the Boston market tomorrow - 12/15 - so if you missed an opportunity to get in on the deal earlier, you can join in the Boston deal as coupons are valid at any of our stores )

That is one example of a great new tool - there are many more out there that I am looking to learn about. So I am asking - where do you go to find out about new concepts, cool experiences, great sales, etc? Send me your ideas. Leave your comments here - for each one I get, I'll put your name in a drawing for one of my favorite bags of the season - Grace in Chateau de Lill.

Or - come tell us your thoughts in person - if you are currently attending a large midwestern university and will be in Chicago over the holidays, we will be hosting a focus group on Thursday, Jan 7th from 1pm to 4pm at our Chicago boutique at 904 W. Armitage in Lincoln Park. If you are interested in participating, please complete this questionnaire below no later than Wednesday, Dec 16th.

(If you are selected, you will be notified by Monday, Dec. 21st. Focus group participants will receive an 1154 LILL Design a Bag Kit in return for their participation in the focus group session).

Jen Velarde

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Busy Holiday Season!

Is your calendar filling up this holiday season? Today alone we have 4 events going on at LILL. Two here in Chicago - we'll be at the Orland Park Country Club this afternoon and the Allerton Hotel tonight for NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owner's) for their holiday shopping parties. In our Boston and Kansas City Stores, we are hosting in-store holiday parties as well. Our custom order deadline is this Sunday so there are also parties going on all over the country with our LILL on Location Reps today and through the weekend.

It is our busiest time of the year - and one of our favorite times. We get to see and work with so many customers as they cross off their gift lists with thoughtful and creative orders. You see firsthand the spirit of the season. The act of choosing that perfect gift for someone special and the satisfaction that appears on a customer's face or in their voice when they find it. We love helping customers get there and look forward to the busy weeks ahead where we will do this more than any other time during the year. We only wish we could be there when the gifts are given!

I'll be at the NAWBO event tonight where I hope to help some existing customers as well as introduce our products to a new audience. Looking forward to it!

Jen Velarde

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Setting the Table

Thanksgiving is upon us! I think for most that means they are busy making preparations for the big meal. It means trips to the grocery store. I've been 3 times since Saturday - seems we keep remembering one more item we need... and of course find many more that just "look so good" we have to buy. It never fails that we prepare food to feed an army, however are expecting less than 10 at our house tomorrow.

While I'm a good shopper, I'm not very skilled in the kitchen, so my job is always prepping the house and setting the table. I love this. I love using all the table linens and dishes and glasses and silverware that for most of the year are simply on display. I typically don't figure out what I'm doing to set the table until the day of. I find it exciting to pull out what I have and combine it in new ways. I love pulling things from other rooms and finding a way to creatively use these items as part of the centerpiece. I get so much satisfaction out of "pulling it off" with things around the house. And, while others at the table are oohing and awhing about how wonderful the food is, I am so much more about how all the food looks as it adorns my pulled together table.
As it stands today, I don't have exact plans for my table yet, but plan to spend a little time surfing for ideas tonight as I pull out all the "possible" items I have to include in this year's table settings. It is sure to be a highlight of my day. Here are some links to some sites I will use for inspiration:

Happy Thanksgiving!
Jen Velarde

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Our 1st Holiday Market this past Saturday was a success! We invited 20 local Chicago designers to sell their wares with us at our Headquarter's location. The event space looked great and the local designers are so talented- check out the list of vendors and their websites -
I took care of several gifts - which I'll keep under wraps till they are given, but also picked up a couple things for myself and my kids. I couldn't resist the adorable spaceship hat and chocolate brown onsie with striped tie applique for Grey from "Sam and Coop." For Hadley, I got the cutest apron from "So Silly" - its plastic coated oil cloth makes it perfect for her to wear as she "helps" with the dishes. And, after seeing several people try on this perfectly styled red and orange sweater from "Orangyporangy," I succumbed and bought one for myself. Its my new go to weekend wear! A big thank you to all who participated and attended. What a fun day!

Speaking of holiday events, our Chicago boutique is hosting our annual Holiday Cheer event on Thursday, November 19th from 6pm-8pm at 904 W. Armitage Ave. We're offering amazing discounts to our LILL fans- 15% off all handbags and 25% off accessories, event night only. If you want to get some holiday shopping done, rsvp for the event
Hope you can join us to kick off your holidays!
-Jen Velarde

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What's better than a Gift Certificate?

Our customers often want to share their love of LILL with a friend or family member and choose a gift certificate as a way to give the experience of creating a LILL product to someone special. We see many happy faces coming into the stores or to parties excited to get started creating courtesy of their newly received gift certificate. And while these are always a nice gift, this year we wanted to expound on the gifting possibilities and offer something extra special.

So, what could be better than a gift certificate? How about the whole design experience in a box? How about we offer a way for customers to receive a gift they can get to work on immediately? What we came up with was a "Design a Bag Kit."

How does it work? Send your friend, family member or significant other to LILL via the web, party or store. They select a style they think is perfect for you and order a Design a Bag Kit for that style. Next, we package a sample bag of the chosen style, a set of fabric swatches, step by step design instructions and an order form and send it off to you. You happily receive the adorablely packaged kit and get to work picking fabrics for your new LILL. Invite a friend over and mix and match fabrics together or make your selections on your own - either way you get to create in the comfort of home. When you've found the perfect combination, you simply fill out the order form, pack up the sample bag and fabric swatches and send it all back to us with the pre-paid shipping label. In approximately 3 weeks time, your personally designed bag is sent back to you and you are off to show all your friends and family your newest creation!

Its really a great idea for the holidays and all of those special occasions through out the year. Its a gift that offers the ultimate in creativity right away - no waiting to visit the store, find time online or set up a party. And nothing beats the try on, tactile experience that the sample bag and swatch set provides. Check out our website for more details and be sure to tell all your friends and family that LILL's new Design a Bag Kit is on your wish list this holiday season!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Designing with Jillian Harris

Jillian Harris of The Bachelorette fame visited our Chicago Store last night with several girlfriends. She recently relocated to Chicago to be with her fiance, Ed Swiderski, and has been finding her way around the city. She was introduced to 1154 LILL by a friend and was excited to come in and try her hand at designing.

She was a natural! With her innate sense of style and interior design background, she quickly chose three styles to design. She then selected classic textiles for the exteriors of each of the 3 bags so she could "wear them as much as possible." She chose bolder prints - our fresh green and white Southern Charm pattern for her Hadley interior and our graphic black and white Moroccan Tiles for her Erinn interior. She kept her Carolina wallet smart and classic by combining our Black Ink Linen and Charcoal woven grid - the perfect every day wallet to compliment any bag she carries.

Her girlfriends jumped in and designed as well - each one helping the other find something that suited them. After a couple hours of laughter and designing, they left the store and headed to dinner... They'll be back in a few weeks to pick up their bags were all too excited to start carrying them!

They were a really sweet group of friends. As they left, I thought about my own group of girlfriends and how nice it is to get together, have a little wine, a little design and a little dinner. Laughter inevitably fills the space and you relax into your best self every time. I'm looking forward to some good girlfriend time myself this fall..... right after trick or treating tomorrow!

-Jen Velarde

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Happy 5th Anniversary to our Rep, Shelley P!

As you may know, LILL celebrated its 10th Anniversary this August (my how time does fly!). And while we were busy turning 10 this year, our LILL on Location Party Rep program turned 5! One of our Minneapolis reps has been with us from the very beginning and all of us at LILL want to wish a happy 5th anniversary to Shelley P.!

Shelley has been celebrating all month long with special prices on her Fave 5 Bags and lots of great LILL parties. This weekend she's having her official celebration party and since we can't all get there, we wanted you to have the chance to get to know Shelley a little bit. So we asked her a few questions...

Where are you from originally?
I was born and raised in the Western Suburbs of Minneapolis, MN where I have made now my home with my own family. However, I spent 4 years (ok, 4 ½) at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Where did you meet Jen (our founder & president) and Robin (LILL's vice-president)?
Robin lived on my floor my freshman year at Drake. We rushed together and both pledged Delta Gamma which is where we met Jen. We have been friends for a very long time!

What do you love most about working for LILL?
It has been so cool to watch LILL grow from its most humble beginnings in Jen’s studio apartment in Lincoln Park to the successful company it is today. It is an honor for me to have the opportunity to share my own personal account of the company’s history. I am so proud of my friends and the work they have done. And, in my role, I get to have all the fun. To introduce women to this company and the fabulous handbags is such a thrill! And I have loved meeting such great people at these events. I have forged friendships with a handful of my hostesses whom have now become some of my best friends.

How have the parties changed since you started working with LILL?
If you can believe it, when I first started, I had to take the orders by hand and FAX them to LILL headquarters. The other major distinction is that the brand awareness and gen
eral familiarity with LILL has grown exponentially. This is not a typical sales job, I am merely a facilitator. The bags sell themselves and the process is so interactive and engaging people look forward to doing it again and again.

What about family?
I have been married for 7 years and we have two wonderful kids, Jenna Grace (age 5 ½) and George (age 3). I was so flattered when Jen chose to name the Grace bag for my Jenna Grace. No George bag yet... but that's probably OK!

What are your three favorite fabrics right now?
Not sure I can just pick three, but I'll try. Ooh La La... Lime Leaves... and any animal prints (Kalahari Leopard, Wild Zebra, Lemon Zebra, Snow Leopard)

Do you have a nickname?
In college I was called Link. Its origins are not all that interesting but the name does come out every once in a while now among our friends.

Favorite musician, band or music genre:
It seems like right now we are so kid-focused all we listen to is Kidz Bop and Disney princess soundtracks. But music really isn’t my thing. I don’t even own an iPod (but my 5 year old has one…go figure).

Where did you last go on vacation?
To Chicago to visit my best friends and their kids!

Thanks Shelley for all your help spreading the word about LILL and helping to get our LILL on Location program going. You have been a fantastic assest - AND a great friend - to the LILL Studio! Happy 5th Anniversary!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Little Fashionista

So as the weather turned colder here in Chicago, I was inspired to create a new bag for fall. I have been hooked on the Hadley bag - which is named after my daughter - for a while now. When picking my fabrics, I chose a black strap with a brown accent stripe so I could wear it with either my go to brown boots and cap or my favorite black coat. I chose Cosmo Tweed for the body - a blend of berry tones and black/brown flecks for a pop of color that also works well with my fall staples. It's such a great carry-all, for both my things and the variety of things I'm "holding" for the kids. (My favorite kid item in my bag today is the comic section of the newspaper. My 5 year old was fascinated when he saw this at my parents house and wanted to save it to hang up in his room.... a sign of the times that he rarely sees a printed version of the newspaper at our house).

I got my bag on Friday and as I started to load it up for my first carry, my daughter Hadley, in her two year old speak said "ohh mommy, soo pretty!" She has taken to commenting on my bags and shoes almost daily - a little fashionista in training. I'm often taken off guard by this as most of her activities involve cars and balls, following after her brother. So I am rather pleased to hear her commenting on fashion and in fact, styling herself. It must be an inately female trait as she is very opinionated about which accessories should be worn with what outfits. I've attached a picture of her in a self-styled outfit. I'm still trying to explain to her that jeans under dresses is a trend that was only popular before she was born and that 2 dresses are not better than one.... her response - an eye roll and an "Oh, mommy..." And thus the next generation of mother /daughter fashion debate begins....
Jen Velarde

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fun Finds for our Holiday Market!

In a meeting earlier this year we started talking about how many creative local designers we were happening upon. It occured to us that it would be fun to invite similiarly minded creatives to get together for a holiday market and provide a venue for all of our customers to shop for unique holiday gifts. So this fall we sent out applications for our first annual LILL Holiday Market that will be held at our Chicago warehouse on Saturday, November 14th.

We are thrilled with the collection of applications that came in. They are brimming with beautiful products and business concepts.... it was fun to review, but also tough to decide! We only have room for 20. We met yesterday and made some decisions. Here are some pics of products from companies we invited. We'll post the full list of vendors on our website as soon as everyone is confirmed. Mark your calendars now and get your whole list taken care of in one day!

Pics from:
Jen Velarde

Monday, October 12, 2009

Boutique Parties!

We recently particpated in an event called the Indie Collection at Oakbrook Center here in Chicago. It was a really fun event for us as we saw so many of our suburban customers, made some new connections and were joined by several other local designers. I personally loved getting to see other designer lines amongst the traditional retailers at Oakbrook. I bought a dress from a new designer, whom I loved - Kate Boggiano, Some of her work was also just featured in In Style. I love her unique twist on classic such as button downs and shirt dresses. Check out the collar on the picture attached.

I know I'm not the only one who loves to shop at these kind of events. And, lately we've had an influx of opportunities to showcase our line at area boutiques. We're excited to bring 1154 LILL to customers while shopping at some of their favorite boutiques.

Here are some upcoming dates -We'll be at Holly G Boutique in Baltimore on 10/17, Urban Belly in Des Moines on 10/20, Avant Garden in Milwaukee on 10/22, Splendor in Milwaukee on 10/31 and Poeme in Cincinnati on 11/5. Check out the line and get some of your holiday shopping done - custom ordering available at all events! No appointment necessary.

You can find more info about all of these events on our facebook page or on our calendar of events page:

We'd love to bring our line to one of your favorite boutiques as well. If you have suggestions, we're all ears! You can email your ideas to

Hope to see you at a boutique near you soon!
Jen Velarde

Friday, October 9, 2009

Emily's Pick of the Week~ How About Orange

Hello LILL fans! Happy Friday! Today I'd like to feature a super cool blog called How About Orange. How About Orange is a blog written by graphic designer, Jessica Jones. How About Orange features a wide variety of posts related to art, design, DIY projects, and much more. Jessica features things on her blog that she truly loves. I have had so much fun reading this blog! I love that she updates the blog nearly everyday. Jessica even runs her own etsy shop! I recently added How About Orange to the list of blogs that I read everyday. You should check out How About Orange today! How About Orange has teamed up with 1154 LILL Studio for a free giveaway. Go to How About Orange and scroll down to the entry written on October 6, 2009. Check out the post and leave a comment by 12 midnight CST tonight (10/9/09) for your chance to win a free NIKKI bag with G is for Giraffe fabric.
I hope you enjoy reading the new posts and looking through the archives at How About Orange. Scroll down to the entry written on September 28, 2009, entitled Hey, Matt. What's Up. Too funny!
Have a great weekend! Emily R.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Emily's Pick of the Week

Meet our newest style, SANDRA! SANDRA is a great everyday handbag with four pockets on the exterior and the interior. There is also a clip on the inside for your key ring. Our customer, Sandra N. designed her own unique SANDRA bag today. SANDRA is 10% off on our website for the entire month of October.
Sandra N. chose Central Park Tweed for the exterior and English Ivy for the exterior top and strap. She chose Black Poplin for the interior of her bag.
Check out SANDRA! You will receive a 10% discount on your custom or ready made SANDRA throughout the month of October!
Emily R.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shelley's Fave Five!

To celebrate her five years with LILL on Location, Shelley, our Minneapolis – Western Suburbs Rep is offering a special 20% discount to any of her Minneapolis customers who order any one of her five favorite bags. We asked her to tell us what it is she likes so much about the five she picked. Check out her answers below...

HADLEY The slouchier the better! HADLEY can carry an enormous amount of necessities and keep me looking chic at the same time. Now that both my children are a little older, I've been able to replace the diaper bag with a HADLEY. This keeps me looking super stylish at preschool drop-off! I stash all my smaller accessory bags in there, too (ANNE, LIZ, AUDREY/JANE, JACK).

AUDREY/JANE – As a wife and mom I have found that there is very little that I can claim totally as my own. Among other things, I am
constantly sharing the extra room in my larger handbags (even for my hubby’s wallet & sunglasses!). So there is something very satisfying about carrying an AUDREY stuffed solely with my stuff. I clip a JANE wrist strap to it and can step out with just what I need… and without schlepping everyone else’s gear!

GRACE – Aside from the pure elegance of this on-the-town clutch, I adore this handbag’s name! My dear fr
iends Jen and Robin chose the name for this style after my daughter, Jenna Grace (she's the cutie in the picture with me up at the top). While most think of this as an evening bag, I have had customers who have opted not to have the ruffle accent and then chose a casual, bright patterned fabric paired with an unexpected interior fabric. I love when my customers can truly make a bag style their own.

ANDI – For most of LILL, ANDI is just thought of as a great bag and a constant top seller. For me, it’s both of those things and a sentimental favorite. I received my first ANDI from a friend at a time when I needed a little pick-me-up. She designed it for me in wonderful happy colors - bright turquoise with lime green and orange accents. It is such fun a fun bag and it meant a lot to know she had designed just for me! Goes to show that retail therapy can be good for the soul – especially when combined with a true friend!

SANDRA – My “NEW” Favorite! I know from my customers that zippers, pockets and key clips are in demand! And when you take a look at SANDRA’s features you can tell LILL listens to what its customers want. Just another reason I am proud to work with such an amazing company. Check out SANDRA when it debuts on Oct 1!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Emily's Pick of the Week

Happy Friday Everyone! It looks like we're in for a beautiful weekend. Get out and enjoy the last weekend of summer! This week I thought I'd focus on some of the gorgeous fall fabrics that we have in our fabric palette. Now that fall is just around the corner, I am looking to design a new fall bag. Here are my favorite fall fabrics:

From left to right: Wiggle Worm, Matchmaker, Sea of Tranquility, Fall Fields, Pop Rocks
I am thinking about designing a new AUDREY JANE bag. I can put my essentials in my AUDREY JANE and then pop it into my SUSAN diaper bag. I am going to put the funky Wiggle Worm on the AUDREY and Pop Rocks on the JANE.

We have a lot of beautiful fall fabrics on our fabric palette right now. Check them out! I hope everyone has a great weekend! See you here next Friday. Emily R.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Emily's Pick of the Week

Hello LILL Fans! I am so excited to be back on the blog! I was out of the office this summer on maternity leave. I designed a custom SUSAN a few months ago, and I have been using it all summer. I absolutely love it! I especially love all of the pockets. The side pockets on the exterior of the bag are great, as well as the interior pockets which help me stay organized. Also, SUSAN fits perfectly over the handle of my stroller. Since I love my SUSAN, I'd like to spotlight SUSAN this week.
Ryan W. from Ithaca, NY recently designed a custom SUSAN bag. Ryan chose the whimsical Yellow Stone for the exterior base and pocket, Aruba for the top, and Charcoal for the trim and strap. This is such a fun combination!
If you've been thinking about designing a LILL bag, now is a great time to take the plunge. This month LILL is celebrating our 10 year anniversary! As a thank you to you, our loyal customers, we are offering 10% off of your bag purchase on our website, at a LILL On Location party or in our boutiques. This special anniversary discount lasts until August 31st on our website and in our boutiques and until September 7th at LILL On Location parties . Have a great weekend! Emily R.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

10 Years of LILL!

We can't believe 10 years have flown by! We feel so fortunate to have collaborated with so many amazing customers, team members and friends to help build the 1154 LILL Studio of today. Thank you for your support, for your business and your friendship - it means the world to us.

To celebrate 10 years - this month we are offering 10% off EVERYTHING - and 20% off at all parties! Visit our website for all the details and to start designing online!

Owner Jennifer Velarde penned 10 thoughts on the 10 years of LILL - take a look:

1. Glee - That is the best word to describe the feeling I had when I sewed the first sample bag in my tiny studio apartment. Something inside leapt for joy. When I get that feeling about a new style or fabric to this day, I know it is going to be a good one.

2. Our first sale at the street fair and our first handbag party at a customer's home were thrilling. As was our first sale at the original Chicago Store location. I still see Ann, whom I met at the street fair and hosted our first party. She became my insurance agent and a good friend. I also run into Michelle, our first Chicago Store customer, from time to time around the city and we talk about that "Ally" bag she created and still has.

3. Painting - who knew there would be so much. From bookshelves, to floors, to bathrooms and of course walls. I've spent a fair share of time, especially in the early years, with a paint brush in hand. There is nothing like a can of paint to transform a space or create a bond.
4. LILL bags everywhere. One of the best thing about this business is seeing your work on the arm of someone miles away from Chicago. I've seen them everywhere. It always makes me smile and it never gets old.

5. In the early years, I spent a lot of time in my car driving to contractors and hunting for fabric. I came to love talk radio - especially the Kathy and Judy Show on WGN. What a thrill when I was driving a long and actually heard them bring up and discuss my business one day. We've been blessed with some amazing press through the years, but this one was pretty memorable for me.

6. Life moments. When you are in business for 10 years, you and your team go through so many life moments together. We've had weddings and funerals and births. Together our team has shared a lot and created friendships that will last a lifetime. This is one of our best accomplishments.

7. Warehouse sale. We had our first one last fall on my birthday. I didn't know quite what to expect. The sale started at 9 and we had customers lining up in the rain at 7 am. The sale was packed with ecstatic customers who sorted through piles of bags. I met so many loyal LILL customers who shared their experiences with LILL through the years. Glee, again...I was overwhelmed. It was by far, my favorite birthday.

8. Proud parents. When I announced I'd be quitting my job and starting a handbag business, my parents were not exactly thrilled. At each milestone we've reached, I see at least one of my parents pause, shake their head, and beam with pride. It's a pretty cool feeling.

9. New businesses and adventures. As an entrepreneurial company, you attract entrepreneurial team members. Many of our staff started with us right out of college. 4-5 years later, I'll get message from one of them asking to chat. I know before we meet that they are coming to me to tell me that they'll be leaving. I'm never sad about this. In fact, I am proud - because they are setting off to so something they've been inspired to create or to do because of their time at LILL. Former staff have launched a few new businesses and set off on some amazing adventures. Like my own parents, I couldn't be prouder.

10. Reaching 10. At that first street fair, I couldn't have imagined I was setting off towards 10 years. 10 years later, I couldn't imagine what my life would be like without LILL. Thank you to you, our loyal customers for making it all possible. I look forward to the next 10!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July's Team Member of the Month!

And the much deserved honor goes to the lovely Sandra N.!

Sandra is always wiling to help with the cutting machine and always there to answer questions. She is a great problem solver and team leader and has valuable ideas on how to improve efficiency. She has great knowledge about LILL from past to present. All this and she is fun, friendly and great to talk to as well! Sandra is known for her ability to take on many roles at LILL and you can usually find her working in our cutting, quality assurance, or shipping departments... sometimes all at the same time! Thanks for everything Sandra!

Let's get to know the woman of hour...

Where are you originally from? The Chi

How long have you been with LILL? I started as a seasonal worker when I was 18 in the winter of 05. Then I left and came back as a seasonal worker (I think in the spring or summer of 06) and that turned into a part time job. After about less than a yr of that I decided to become full-time.

Favorite LILL style? I like the sophie, and smaller items like connor and jane. Big bags get in my way.

Top 2 fabric picks: Right now I like Tucan Leaves and Charcoal.

What do you love most about working for LILL? Working with my family, and the ppl Ive gotten to know well.

Do you have a nickname? A couple, they're in Spanish though.

Favorite musician, band or music genre: I enjoy latin music the most.

Where did you last go on vacation? Wisconsin…..I went camping, and I came back home with an ugly bloodshot spot on my neck (idk what bit me).

Anything else fun you’d like to share? I love to dance, work out, and I'm studying to be a chemist (hopefully a rockin' one because I'm smart).

Another fun fact about Sandra is that she's a very gifted artist (as shown below with one of her paintings on canvas).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

In awhile, crocodile...

Hi LILL Fans!

We will be taking a little break from updating our blog while our two main resident bloggers are out on maternity leave. Both had baby boys - both named them Charlie - and no, they hadn't shared names with each other before hand. :) So fun. We are so happy and excited for them both!

We're getting our act together to get some new posts up in their absence - but in the meantime, please become a "Fan" of our Facebook page for lots of great updates, contests and special deals.

In addition, our design team is tweeting away - so please follow them on twitter.

Talk to you soon!

Monday, June 29, 2009


My bathroom usually looks like a tornado hit it. From the face powder scattered all over the sink to the eyeshadow packets strewed across the counter, my beauty regime tends to leave a mess behind. In honor of moving into a new home with my husband, I decided it was time to stop living like a messy teenager and start organizing my beauty supplies.

In order to do so, I created my very own customized CHRISTIE, a deluxe makeup bag which fits perfectly on my counter and holds all my beauty goodies. For the exterior and handle of the bag I opted for Apple Spice Tea, and for the exterior top and base I chose Kalahari Leopard. Animal prints and bright colors are huge right now and I feel like I am tapping into my inner Jungle Goddess every time I use my makeup in the morning!

Of course, with all of my addiction to beauty products, just one bag won’t do, so I created a couple more CHRISTIES that could store other essentials. I created another with an exterior and handle of Key Lime Twill, and I chose Southern Charm for the exterior top and base. Then, I created another with even more bright colors, this time choosing Strawberry Daiquiri for the exterior handle, and Mellow Yellow for the exterior top and base.

Friday, June 19, 2009

These Bags are for Fashion Animals!

Sometimes inspiration strikes in the most odd of places. The grocery store. A garden. The zoo. As it turns out, my last trip to the zoo with my kids left me with a million ideas for fun, fresh patterns. Of course, animal prints, always a hot trend, were foremost in my mind.

Excited to get to work, I chose our new BRIANNA bag for the base of my “wild” new creation. A recession-ista’s best friend, this roomy and reversible tote is two bags in one. For the exterior color I chose the Wild Zebra print and Bay Blue for the interior accent. Because this bag is reversible, I think it’s the perfect way to test the waters while you search for your inner Jane of the Jungle.

My creating didn’t stop there! Inspiration found me again when I received an invitation for a black tie event downtown. Feeling tired of all my jewelry and even (gasp! ) my collection of high heels, I created the little black dress’s perfect accessory, the little animal print clutch!

Using one of my favorite and most practical clutch designs, the ERINN, I decided to use the Snow Leopard print for the bottom portion and add a pop of color at the top using Pucker Up.

Needless to say, a fabulous bag always makes a fabulous night out!

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Fence Project

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
~Margaret Mead

Here at 1154 Lill Studios, fashion is the name of the game. We want our bags to be as bright, colorful, resilient and unique as the women who carry them. However, nothing is more than important giving back to the community, especially when it comes to our children.

In Chicago, Illinois (where 1154 Lill Studios was first founded) a number of children at the Nettelhorst School were being bullied for having families that looked a little different than the traditional nuclear family. Both a fifth-grader and a first-grader were being taunted for having two dads, and in addition, an eighth-grade substitute teacher was being harassed and called a ‘fag.’

Photos by Cat Conrad and Robin Schachtel

The families and the teachers decided it was time to nip this bullying in the bud and start instilling pride and respect in the Nettelhorst students. To do so, they created the Fence Project, in which everyone in the school and in the community could tie a colorful piece of fabric to the school fences in order to signify tolerance, respect, unity, and diversity. 1154 Lill Studio had the honor of donating fabric to this pride project, and the myriad of colors hanging displayed on the fence is a beautiful sight.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Meet Jasmine!

After months of a cold, gray winter, there is nothing like the summer sun. I love putting away my drab winter wear and pulling out my bright sundresses and flip-flops. I want to look as summery as I feel—and I want my house to look summery, too!

This year, I started by doing a little spring cleaning and clearing all the clutter from my shelves and drawers. Bye bye, dustbunnies! Then, to bring in a pop of color and summertime sun, I created a few of my very own Jasmine pillows. This fluffy pillow is the perfect size to dress up a living room or toss on the bed for a little extra color and flair!

In keeping with my bright, summertime theme I created a couple of Jasmines for my living room, in Pear Faux Suede and with a ruffle of Sandstone. I created another set with a Cocktail Paisley print and a Pear Faux Suede ruffle.

For my daughter’s bedroom, I wanted to create a couple of Jasmines in colors that would really pop. I helped her to choose Rosita with a Strawberry Daiquiri ruffle as well as strawberry Daiquiri with a pucker up stripe and a cocktail paisley ruffle. She loves how pretty and girly the room is now, and I love that it encourages her to make the bed!

In my bedroom, I wanted the theme to be a little more tranquil and peaceful, so I opted for Aruba for the exterior of the pillow, and then I chose Robin’s Egg Blue for the ruffle and for the second pillow, I chose the cornflower leaves with the blue belle stripe. The blue reminds me of the ocean, and I go to bed every night dreaming of my upcoming vacation to Mexico!