Q&A with Lillian Farag and Her Eponymous Leather Accessories Brand

Q&A with Lillian Farag and Her Eponymous Leather Accessories Brand

Experimenting and taking risks is a huge part of Lillian's mantra. Following her instincts has helped put her on a path - even if it's not always the right one. 

Lilian and I first met over a year ago through a collaboration with one of my clients. I was living in Australia at the time, and she is based in Brooklyn, NY. Soon after moving to NYC, I knew I had to meet IRL this talented artist, designer, and beautiful human being behind the eponymous brand Lillian Farag. Since then - over many coffees - we've chatted about following your instincts, the challenge of not feeling drained from our businesses, and the fear of taking the next steps.

Q: What made you want to make the leap into starting your own business? 

Starting my own business was never an intentional thought or goal. I knew I wanted freedom in what I was designing and who I was working with. After several years of working in the fashion industry, I left my corporate job to start freelancing so that I could experience new opportunities. I reached out to friends and discussed ideas for collaboration and slowly started to develop my style and techniques. 

After a few years of picking up a few projects here and there and learning the process, I put my knowledge of sampling and sourcing to use and started to produce my designs on fabric and small accessories such as silk scarves and kimonos. It was more of an experimental stage and I learned a lot of about what I didn't want to do. I realized I needed to stick to what I knew best and that was surface design.

I kept experimenting with painting on new materials and decided to try a more handmade approach to creating unique items as a hobby more than anything, but that also supported my textile business. Slowly over the years, that has become a business on its own. While I never really felt I had a clear idea of where I wanted to take it, it was clear from the beginning that I was onto something interesting. Every year I try to set small goals to grow my small business. I never thought it would become what it is today and I'm happy that I still have the flexibility to grow this business in whichever way it takes me.

lilian-farag-leather

Q: What challenge have you overcome through this business?

The main challenge has been how to separate my work with my personal life. When you start a business out of something you used to do for fun, it's easy for the lines to blur. I sometimes forget why I started making pieces to sell. When you start to monetize what once used to be your hobby, you also realize you are not able to design as freely as you used to. That can definitely take the fun out of it. Figuring out a balance and reminding myself of the "why" is a good practice to help stay on track. Picking up hobbies that don't end up a part of your business is also super important for me as a creative. Running a business can be really draining and its hard to tap into creativity. I've learned to surround myself with my creative community and take classes that help me stay in a certain mindset in order to keep my business thriving.

lilian-farag-leather-print

Q: As a business owner, what are you most fearful of? How do you deal with it? 

I have A LOT of fears. Its one of the main things that keeps me up at night asking myself " What is my next move?" or debating whether I should abandon all and just get a full-time job with benefits haha.

I have a lot of fears on sustaining my handmade business, hiring help and scalability. I think the thing that creeps up the most is the idea of growing my business, taking the appropriate steps and how much energy I should put into a certain idea or path. I don't have a degree in business and I often make choices based off of instinct (which I'm sure would make most cringe) but Its how I started off, so it's often what I go back to. I've learned over the years to educate myself, and as each year passes I have the data that can help me make the right decisions which has been helpful. Again, I try and remember the "why" and remind myself of what truly brings joy and accomplishment in my work.

lilian-farag-sketches

Q: Who has been the biggest influence in your career and the way you approach your work?

I have done a lot of research on the type of brand I would like to be. I've reached out to other designers who do similar work (handmade businesses). Ive walked a lot of shows and take notes on how other brands are successful at something and what is making it work. Research always inspires me in some way.

Experimenting and taking risks is a huge part of succeeding. You really can't have one without the other. Following my instincts helps me take risks which then help put me on a path, maybe its not always the right path but I truly believe that the "path" is why we take on these type of challenges in the first place. I try and enjoy the process as much as possible. 

Q: What is your favorite daily essential that you can't live without? 

I love reading and podcasts about extraterrestrials, anything space, solar system, universe and science!  

lilian-farag-portrait

Q: What are your favorite words to live by?

It's a common one but nothing has ever resonated more for me

"It's about the journey not the destination."

Q: What advice would you give other emerging business owners?

Continue to educate yourself and integrate yourself in your community. The benefits of having a support system around you is beneficial on many levels. It also gives you the confidence to take on new challenges without feeling alone in the process. 




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