By: Luthea Salom
Lillies Dream is a sustainable ecological clothing line for babies and toddlers designed and handmade by me in my sunny smoke-free little creative studio in the middle of Manhattan. I use organic, Kona and/or premium cottons certified 100% safe for the delicate skin of babies and put a lot of love and happiness into every item I create.
*Photo Credit: Courtney Patton
I am inspired by vintage clothing, sunny mornings, fairy lights, baby smiles, naïve art and quirky music. Fashion has been a passion of mine for a very long time and I couldn't wait to create my own line of clothing.
*Photo Credit: Ron Haviv
Was starting a business always in your plans?
As a petite performing singer/songwriter I needed a lot of clothes for the stage, TV interviews and promotion photos. Initially I worked with small designers who I would get fabrics for. Eventually I fell so in love with the whole process of fabric hunting and designing that, one day, I thought I should learn how to sew and start making my own clothes.
My boyfriend bought me my first sewing machine and with the help of the manual and YouTube videos I taught myself how to sew and make my own clothes. After a few years with this newfound passion, I decided to start a line. I was accepted to the Fashion Institute of Technology and studied for a degree in patternmaking.
Did your idea for this business change at any point?
At first, I thought I would make a petite line but I ended up falling in love with children’s wear and that’s the path I took instead.
What was your moment of clarity? When did you know it was time to make it happen?
It all became clear when I made clothes for my niece and friend’s babies. I fell in love with the freedom and imagination that comes with children’s wear. The results are always so precious. There’s something magical that happens each time I complete a small garment and know a child will be wearing it.
*Photo Credit: Julie Cate
How did you determine your target audience/customer?
One of the things that helped me determine my target customer was the actual space I had available to create my business. When I started to work on my line, I was living in a small NYC apartment so I knew I couldn’t store a lot of fabrics, patterns and samples; so, I decided to go small and invest in a children’s wear line instead of doing adults.
Would you consider your audience niche or broader?
I would consider my audience a niche. I try to make unique yet functional clothes that are also timeless. As a result, many of my customers come to me when dressing for family photos, weddings and other special occasions. They are looking for things that will age well and always look good. It’s a huge privilege for me.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Dawson
What’s been the best driver for brand awareness?
I have been using Instagram to interact with my clients and showcase new items as I release them. It has been a very good tool and I enjoy the sense of community I get from it.
How do you create appealing imagery or videos to showcase your products?
I use my iPhone with a good tripod and lots of natural light to capture my product. I put a lot of effort into my product imagery. Since I only sell online, I need to represent my garments as accurately as possible.
Photo Credit: Lillies Dream
Have you had to adjust your business or marketing strategy to remain competitive?
Before I launched my line, I studied the market place I was entering. It is important to have a good understanding of what my customers want and need. After that I put in a lot of hours trying to develop a product that was unique, ecological and also represented my personal taste.
Do you tend to put more emphasis on having a unique product or unique brand position in a market with many direct competitors?
I try very hard to have a unique product that will appeal to as many people as possible without jeopardizing the quality.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
When I opened my line about 2 years ago, I was not sure what was going to happen. All my connections and experience were mostly in the music industry so it was like starting from scratch. My biggest accomplishment so far has been the rapid growth of my customer base and how quickly I have adjusted my line to meet their expectations.
Photo Credit: Chandler Kellum
How has having the right fabric supplier made the difference in your business?
When I discovered fabric.com everything fell into place for me. As a small made-to-order business, the fact that I can order small batches of fabric and know that it will be available month after month is very important. As a timeless line this allows me to create a product and continue to sell it season after season. Fabric.com also offers the best prices I have seen with free and fast shipping $49+. All these things are crucial for my business. The extra 10% discount I got after joining the Fabric Business Program plus being able to speak to a specialized representative has also helped my business immensely.
Photo Credit: Lillies Dream
What is the most unexpected way fabric.com has helped your business operate or blossom?
Other things I love about fabric.com are the fact that they let you know if a fabric is recordable. After I design and photograph a new style I want to make sure the fabric will be available for a long time. I also appreciate how they let you know when a sold-out fabric is back in stock. Another great thing is the incredible amount of fabrics available. I love spending time going through them as it inspires me to create new styles for my line.
Photo Credit: Lillies Dream
Which top 3 fabrics do you recommend to owners in your field and why?
I mostly work with Kona Cotton and linens by Robert Kaufman. I find the quality to be exceptional and I also know what to expect. The colors are kept fairly consistent batch after batch. They sew well and they don’t shrink after they are laundered. All are huge pluses for me and my customers. I also work with coating wools and mostly use Melton. It’s a good fabric to work with and the quality found on fabric.com has been mostly good.
Photo Credit: Janet Wylie