According to research conducted by Visa on the State of Female Entrepreneurship, the main motivator for women stepping into the entrepreneurial world is pursuing a passion. This is definitely true for Lillyana Stefanakis, a junior here at SMU who recently relaunched her own luxury jewelry line, LaLa Line Designs. I had the opportunity of chatting with her about how her brand came to be and where she sees it going in the future. Read below for 16 questions with the founder of LaLa Line Designs, Lillyana!
Fernanda: How did your idea for starting a jewelry line begin?
Lillyana: My grandmother has been designing jewelry for fun and my mom has been involved with interior designing for many years, so I kind of grew up surrounded by designers. Looking back, I have realized that I have always wanted to mimic my grandmother and mother in some way because ever since I was able to draw I’ve always doodled jewelry designs and have been into fashion like them. As a little girl, my dream was to get my best jewelry design drawing actually made. My dad has a big entrepreneurial spirit which has always inspired me and eventually influenced me to officially start my own jewelry business. My line started as Lillyana’s Designs and then evolved to Lala Line Designs. When I was in 7th grade I officially created LaLa Line Designs LLC. I did my first ever trunk show in 7th grade that was a part of an event benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society which turned out to be a big moment for me as I realized I could potentially do a lot of things with my line. Once I got to high school, I slowed down making jewelry and only made pieces occasionally for weddings and special events. Then over the summer of 2021, I worked at an internship for a wealth management firm where I happened to mention that I designed jewelry and some women at the company began asking me more about the pieces I’ve made. After seeing my work, they encouraged me to pursue jewelry design, which ultimately inspired me into jewelry making again. So November 2021 was my official re-vamp of LaLa Line Designs.
Fernanda: How did you begin making jewelry?
Lillyana: When I was 8 my art teacher taught me how to wire wrap and use tools, so that is how I learned how to make jewelry myself. The jewelry I would make then was obviously funky random things that my eight-year-old self thought were cool. As I kept making more things my mom and grandmother started genuinely liking them and wanting to wear them. They encouraged me to keep making pieces and started showing them to their friends.
Fernanda: How did your time and experience at SMU help you in starting and running this business?
Lillyana: Being at SMU while running LaLa Line Designs has been an amazing experience as I have realized how great friends will go out of the way to support you. Through Tri-Delt, I have felt a lot of support with my jewelry line as I’m receiving so much encouragement and love from everyone. I will also be able to have a trunk show at Tri-Delt benefiting St.Jude at the end of February which is an amazing opportunity! I took an entrepreneur class with Professor Mak in the fall which also made me feel very ambitious and excited to run my own business. He was very passionate about supporting entrepreneurs, which was an awesome environment to be in.
Fernanda: What is your biggest inspiration for the line?
Lillyana: I would say I have a lot of various inspirations for my line and it doesn’t revolve around one main thing. I draw a lot of inspiration from the sacred heart symbol, saints, and crosses. I am also inspired by Paris Couture. Pearls are a very prominent aspect of my designs, I take a lot of inspiration from them as well as nature. I adore pearls, hearts, and crosses and I love to create pieces revolving around them.
Fernanda: How is your jewelry created? Do you have a plan before you start or do you put things together as you go?
Lillyana: There are a lot of different ways I create jewelry. Sometimes I get inspired through the materials, so I will just start arranging things and get a new idea for a piece. Sometimes I will be doing something random in my day and get an idea and jot it down and come back to it later and make it. If the idea doesn’t turn out how I expected it often leads me to a different design that I end up liking better. Also when I’m designing I think about the pieces as if all the jewelry is for me and I create things I love and want to wear myself. I like putting things together as the creative process goes.
Fernanda: What does female entrepreneurship mean to you?
Lillyana: I have been privileged to be able to meet a lot of amazing female entrepreneurs and other women in the business world who have been go-getters, each of which inspired me in different ways to pursue my passion. From my entire family, I have always been taught that the sky is the limit. I think being a female entrepreneur symbolizes the opportunity to go after what you are passionate about and become someone that your younger self would be proud of. I am so grateful for all of the women who have encouraged me to set high goals for myself.
Fernanda: Why the name LaLa Line?
Lillyana: My parents have called me “Lala” since I was a baby and I’ve always liked that name. I wanted my jewelry line to keep some part of my name and to me, LaLa Line Designs symbolizes a lighthearted way to express yourself.
Fernanda: Where would you like to see LaLa Line designs in the next 5 years?
Lillyana: I would love to grow and do bigger things with LaLa Line. Potentially to be in magazines, stores, and really just to create an iconic and authentic brand is my goal. I am currently being asked to send capsule pieces to boutiques and am really excited about this opportunity.
Fernanda: Who is your ideal customer?
Lillyana: Someone who enjoys expressing themselves through fashion and jewelry, which is not really limited to a certain person!
Now for some rapid-fire questions!
Fernanda: What is your favorite jewelry brand, outside of your own?
Lillyana: Sylva & Cie
Fernanda: What is a jewelry trend that you love?
Lillyana: Gold chain necklaces and earrings
Fernanda: What is a jewelry trend that you hate?
Lillyana: Colorful plastic bead bracelets
Fernanda: Gold or silver?
Fernanda: What is your current favorite design in your line?
Lillyana: I love the heart pendant necklace and the fringe pearl earrings!
Fernanda: How would you describe LaLa Line Designs in one word?
Keep up with Lillyana and her brand through Instagram: @lalalinedesigns & @lillyanastef