An array of Lili’s skirts- Photo by Toia B. of ToBNatural
I was delighted to find out this lovely sister I kept seeing at Natural Hair Events actually made and sold the skirts she wore. These skirts are a conversation piece. I know I’m looking extra special when I have on one of Lili’s skirts. They are flirty in construction, bold in fiber design and Lili’s skirts take me back to my childhood in Virginia, when I loved wearing dresses and skirts with crinoline (yes I’m telling my age). As a matter of fact I wore one of her skirts to a Munaluchi Bridal event and a woman asked me if there was crinoline under my skirt. I informed her that there was no crinoline, it’s just the unique design of the skirt.
Malacia – where are you from?
I’m from Roosevelt Long Island, NY
Where you interested in fashion when you were a child?
I was always interested in fashion. My love for it comes from my mom. I was always the girl that changed her clothes three times a day when I was child.
Classic African Prints brings these designs to a heightened delight for me. Photo by Toia B. of ToBNatual
When did you first learn how to sew?
My mother taught me how to sew. She is originally from South Carolina. But at one point she took six sewing classes and from there began sewing on her own. She would make us dresses to wear to school. She would start them when we were in bed and have them hanging on the door in the morning ready to wear. That was so magical and exciting to me. I actually learned how to sew through 4-H. In the 10th grade I competed to go to NY State Fair and won. I would spend my summers teaching kids how to sew and making clothes to wear to school in the fall. It wasn’t until my last year of high school I decided to pursue fashion. My art teacher Mr. Hunt helped me to prepare my portfolio for the admission process. Although my drawing wasn’t strong I knew that my sewing abilities would make up the difference. That proved to be true when I was accepted into the Fashion Design Program in 1984 at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.
Lili makes dresses too!
What was it that put you on the road of making your fabulous skirts?
My favorite designer is a Haitian Italian designer named Stella Jean. The classic lines and femininity of her skirts were amazing. She was the inspiration behind me deciding to make skirts and find different African prints to represent them in. When I was invited to participate in the NYC Holiday Trunk show I wanted to bring something special and unique. This was my very first time really presenting my clothing in a platform of a vending event. Because of my love for skirts, I thought that would be a great thing to share with others. I love to coordinate things together. The Afro tee out of Ankara print was an idea that I was blessed with. When I shared it with my friend Seanna-Kaye of Natural Hair Does Care she confirmed to me that I was on to a really great idea. My main inspiration has always been Stella Jean, my love for skirts and expressing my uniqueness through my clothing. I love skirts and always have; I began wearing my skirts and dresses to different natural events. I found that everyone loved my clothes just as much as I did. One of my long time goals was to open an Etsy shop to sell some of the things that I make. Each year would go by and it would still be on my list of things to do. August 6, 2013 I decided as a birthday present to myself I would put that goal into action and opened my etsy shop. I had been a long time shopper on Etsy with the hopes of opening a shop there one day. I finally made that dream into a reality.
I had to have my on own Lili Skirt and I found one that matched my hair! Ha!
You could have made your skirts out of any material, any print, why did you decide to use African print?
I decided to use African print because of the beauty of the colors. Ankara is unique and stands out. It has a different texture and feel to it. To add more body and richness to it however, I line my skirts with cotton so that they keep the shape. I can sew on any fabric but being a fan of color and vibrancy I love making classic designs with African fabric. I love the beauty and culture that it represents. It’s my way of sharing who I am with others. Blending cultures helps each of us to understand each other better. A simple skirt made out impeccable fabric is a great conversation piece. It opens to door to more conversations and appreciation of one’s culture.
Please share with us some of the comments your customers have shared with you about your skirts:
The number one compliment from my customers in regards to my skirts is fit and the quality of the fabric. The Belle skirt fits the waist and frees the hip. Because it has a high waist it complements the waist line instead of taking away from it.
The first time I saw you were at an Anu Essentials event with a green skirt that seemed to be made of tulle. Remember?
That skirt was indeed made of tulle. I was inspired to make a tulle skirt from seeing a DIY blog that I follow her name is @considermelovely on instagram. She had an amazing tulle skirt that she made. She shared how to do it. As I child I used to take ballet and I love tulle and anything puffy and girly for that matter. She was the inspiration behind my fun green tulle skirt.
Lili’s skirts are great for ballerinas too
Do you also create specialty skirts like that for the public and or can clients request custom skirts using other fibers and or designs?
I actually have a tulle skirt within my Etsy shop; as well I take custom orders for other fabrics as well. You also have the option of sending me fabric to make one of my designs out of, or a design of your choosing. Those who have known me over years have known me to be a seamstress who has sewn for class graduations, weddings, and various events. Although I am currently sewing with African Fabric I can use other materials as well.
I’ve noticed you also have tees now that match your skirts. Can we expect anything else from your line in the near future?
I will be adding another t shirt variation as well as more dresses and maxi skirts as well. I am constantly thinking of new designs to show that are feminine, unique, sexy and flirty. My clothing is designed for everyone to love across all cultures and ethnicity. I love being a woman and think that having designs that represent that femininity is the best way to represent that.
The lovely Seanna-Kaye of Natural Hair Does Care and Malacia in her tulle green skirt at an Anu Essentials event
Is there any thing else about your work that you’d like to share with us:
The one thing I would like to share is to pursue whatever dream, talent and goal that you have. Often we allow life, people and circumstances to cause us to put our dreams on hold. I am an example of when you don’t do that what God can do for you. I opened my shop in August of 2013 and the success that I have seen in that limited amount of time is more than I could have ever imagined. My motto is “There is more room outside of the box, than in it.”