Featured Artisan: Lilikoi Lane

Meet this week's featured artisan: Crystal of Lilikoi Lane!

When did you start sewing? When I was 9 or 10 years old my mom and I found an antique singer sewing machine at a garage sale. I told my mom that I wanted to learn how to sew, so she brought the machine in to be refurbished. It turns out that the machine was from the first year that Singer made electric sewing machines. My parents gave it to me for Christmas that year. It was so beautiful- black with gold designs painted on it and so simple- no fancy stitches, not even a reverse, it just sewed in one direction. That summer my mom enrolled me in a sewing class for kids at the local sewing shop. I sewed for a few years but then boys and makeup became my new interest and my sewing machine started to gather dust.

It wasn't until the birth of my daughter just over 2 years ago that I regained my interest. I borrowed my sister-in-law's old machine to start out with and a few months later bought a machine of my own. I sewed for my daughter and for friends until my daughter was 1 and then around the time that I went back to work my friends convinced me I should be selling my sewed items so I opened up Lilikoi Lane.

The funny thing is that my shirts were one of the last things I started sewing. Before I was making mostly stuffed animals and lovies but the shirts were what started getting me attention and soon that was what I was known for and the lovies and stuffies went away.

What is a typical day like for you? I work Monday through Thursday as a Children's Book Publicist. When I first opened Lilikoi Lane pretty much every single night after dinner I would start sewing. It just got to be too much for my hubby and daughter. I've found a nice medium though. A few nights a week after my daughter goes to bed I do Lilikoi Lane things and the other nights I spend one-on-one time with my husband. Then on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during naptime I sew and I usually take most of the day either Saturday or Sunday to sew. We have a great light box at work so Monday morning I bring anything I have sewn that weekend to work with me and photograph it. Monday or Tuesday night I do packaging and write thank you cards and usually Tuesday or Wednesday during my lunch break at work I hit the post office and mail things out.

It's pretty hectic having a 2 year old working 4 days a week and running Lilikoi Lane but I love it. There is rarely a night that I go to bed before midnight but I love all of the mamas that I have met and I get such a thrill and sense of accomplishment out of knowing that my shirts are being worn by kids across North America and even a few across the pond.

Do you have a favorite design? Isn't that a bit like asking if you have a favorite child? I think some of my original drawings have become some of my favorites. In my head I think of them as the Lilikoi Lane Classics. The sea turtle, the giraffe and the sparrow are three of my favorite classic designs. But I really love my new elephant design as well. Designing is one of my favorite things I do for Lilikoi Lane so I always love hearing what types of shapes people want to see and doing custom orders.

what's your favorite item of yours that you make? While like a good mother I maintain I have no favorites Wink here are images of a few shirts that continue to stick out in my head of ones that I really love and the story behind each.

I recently did a coop for Crunchy Coop. One of the mamas has a little girl who loves dogs. My little girl loves dogs too, in fact her first word was dog. This mama had purchased a dog ipod holder that my mom made and asked if I could make a shirt in a similar style. She wanted the ears to remain floppy and I made the tounge floppy too just for fun.

I recently had a Canadian Mama contact me who has a little boy (and a husband) who are obsessed with hockey. Mama asked me if I could design a hockey shirt for her. I drew up a sketch, sent it to her and she signed off on it. The next day I found out that Canadian Olympic Gold Medal Women's Hockey Player Hayley Wickenheiser was coming to my work to sign copies of her new book Gold Medal Diary: Inside the World's Greatest Sports Event. I asked the mama if she would like the shirt signed for her little guy and Hayley was nice enough to accommodate. Here is the result:

Six months ago I had a mama contact me that said that she wanted to get a shirt for her daughter. She told me that her husband was an artist and that he had a passion for hummingbirds. She sent me a photo of her little girl and said "This is who you are designing the shirt for." I told her what I thought would be a nice layout for the shirt and she responded "I am married to an artist. What you are doing is art as well. I say go for it. Lay it out however you think it will look best. My daughter will love her bird shirt!" This was the result:

I've also had a number of mamas who have contacted me to make monster shirts. Some to match Crankypants or other monster bummed longies which is always fun. One of my favorites though was a shirt for a a boy who was turning 9. He told his mom that he wanted one of my monster shirts for his birthday. He drew a picture and I turned it into a shirt. The mom, dad and son were all thrilled with the result and it made me so happy.

His drawing:

His finished shirt: 


What inspires you? Kids, mamas, other artists and fabric. I love talking to children and their moms and find out what things their kids love. Most of my designs are in silhouette and it has always amazed me that since my daughter was 1 year old she could look at my shirt and tell me what it is. A dog in silhouette can be pretty abstract but dog, giraffe, elephant, bird... she never gets stumped. Kids take in so much of their environment and to stimulate a child through my shirts is pretty cool. I love it when mamas tell me that they let their children help design the shirts by picking out what design they want and choosing a fabric from my fabric album. It inspires me to know that I have little co-designers all over the world. When mamas challenge me to create a new design for their child who is fixated on a certain animal or item it makes me feel like a true designer.

I also love looking at other artists work. I love browsing on Etsy and looking at artists' work who use different mediums then me. My pig design was inspired by an artisan piggy bank, my SLR camera by a wooden camera. There are so many talented people on Etsy and Hyena Cart and to be inspired by each other I think is a wonderful thing.

Fabric... well it's a major addiction for me. I have over 180 fabrics in my album to choose from. There is nothing that I love more to browse through fabrics and to let my fabric inspire me. With over 180 fabrics in my sewing studio... that's a lot of inspiration: http://tinyurl.com/lilikoilanefabric

Giveaway info: If you are looking for one of a kind clothing for your little one then you have found the right mama with Crystal at Lilikoi Lane. With over 180 fabrics to choose from you can have a letter, a number or one of over 20 designs appliqued to a shirt in your choice of color and size. Getting your child involved picking the design or fabric for their shirt gives them a sense of accomplishment and pride every time they wear their Lilikoi Lane Clothing. Shirts can be ordered online at www.lilikoilane.com or email Crystal at info@lilikoilane.com for help making your selections.

Lilikoi Lane is giving away to one of our lucky readers either a Lilikoi Lane Letter (http://hyenacart.com/lilikoilane/index.php?c=0&p=58674) or Number (http://hyenacart.com/lilikoilane/index.php?c=0&p=75261) shirt. You can choose your little one's first initial or age, shirt size, shirt color and then get creative selecting what fabric you would like from Lilikoi Lane's fabric gallery (http://tinyurl.com/lilikoilanefabric). To be kept up to date on Lilikoi Lane sales and news follow Lilikoi Lane on Facebook (http://www.lilikoilane.info).

To enter: 
* Visit Lilikoi Lane and leave a blog comment telling us you favorite item

Additional entries: 
* Fan Lilikoi Lane on facebook and leave a comment telling us you did
* Fan the team on facebook and leave a comment telling us you did 
* Tweet, blog, or post on facebook about the giveaway and leave us a link

Make sure we have a way to reach you if you are the winner.  Winner will be chosen using random.org on Monday, October 25th! 

**Giveaway is over -- Congrats comment #3!!

22 Responses to “Featured Artisan: Lilikoi Lane”

Natesgirl said...

love the new tree design

StayAtHomeMomma said...

Love the Custom Alphabet shirts!

StayAtHomeMomma said...

I am a fan of Lilikoi Lane on FB!

StayAtHomeMomma said...

I am a new fan the the Etsy Hyena Team on FB!

Christina said...

Crystal's work is amazing! My son is outfitted this fall in her shirts and they are great! Can't wait for the new holiday shirts she is doing :) If you are looking for high quality shirts Lilikoi Lane is definitely the place to go!

Tami said...

I love the new Giving tree!!!

My favorite is the hedgehog! So Cute!

Andrea said...

My favourite are the Alphabet shirts (but I love the elephant too!).

I am a fan of Lilikoi on FB and just became a fan of the Etsy HC Street Team too : )

audreysattic said...

My favorite item is the alphabet shirt.


Kady L. said...

I LOVE the "Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See Custom Shirt"!!

Kady L. said...

Fanned LL on FB! (Kady Staffen-Lavallee)

Kady L. said...

FB fan of yours! (Kady Staffen-Lavallee)

Shairbearg said...

I love this set: Ladybug Newborn Coming Home From The Hospital Dress Set although I only have boys ;)

Shairbearg said...

like her on FB

Shairbearg said...

like tam on FB

Julie said...

I love the Hedgehog Friends shirt (along with the alphabet shirt).

Julie said...

Already her fan on FB

Julie said...

Already a fan of the Etsy HC Street Team on FB.

Jessica said...

I am a Fb fan of the Street Team!

Jessica said...

Already a fan of Lilikoi Lane on FB.

Jess said...

Love the Hummingbird shirt!

Jess said...

already a fan of the team!