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My lightbulb moment: Fashion designer Alice Stone on how a search for fulfillment inspired her to launch Lily and Lionel
- Alice Stone, 34, launched Lily and Lionel from her bedroom in 2008
- She says fashion was in her blood as both her grandparents were in the industry
- She shared the importance in believing in your business and having examples
Published: 00:09 BST, 30 April 2018 | Updated: 16:41 BST, 30 April 2018
Alice Stone, 34, set up her fashion brand Lily and Lionel in 2008. She lives in North London with her husband, Andy.
Fashion is something of a family business. My grandfather, Lionel, oversaw production for stores such as John Lewis, my grandma, Lily, was a skilled seamstress.
My parents are my go-to fashion advisors, having worked in the industry for more than 30 years. That’s a lot to live up to.
Alice Stone, 34, (pictured) was inspired to become a fashion designer after struggling to find creative fulfillment in her PR career
Perhaps that’s why I didn’t go straight into fashion, starting out in PR instead. I loved the events and was good at selling brands, but something was missing. Creatively, I didn’t feel fulfilled. I began to realise that, whether I liked it or not, fashion was in my blood.
I was only 24 when I left my job and set up Lily and Lionel, choosing the name in honour of my grandparents. It was daunting, but I’ve always had an eye for patterns, and had the idea to use photographs from my travels to create a series of prints.
These became scarves and each one, once unfolded, told a story. We built our reputation on those oversized, storytelling scarves — an article appeared on Vogue online the day after we launched in 2008.
We sold out overnight and the traffic to our website continued to spike for some weeks after.
But I was so naive, I had no idea how hard it would be to run my own company. Most of my friends would be out enjoying themselves while I’d be up all night uploading products to the site.
I remember still toiling away in my bedroom on the evening of my birthday when, sweetly, a friend came round with a bottle to lift my spirits.
It’s hard to stick with a new business, but I believed in what I was doing and had my grandparents’ example steering me on.
It wasn’t until 2015 that we introduced a ready-to-wear collection, and now we’re stocked in stores across the country — and the world. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
We experimented with swimwear, but it wasn’t the right step for the brand so we didn’t do a second line — life would be dull without such hiccups.
It’s now been ten years since we launched. Our name was lit up in neon lights at a London pop-up shop recently and my mum told me afterwards it would have been my grandparents’ wedding anniversary. That felt serendipitous.