MEET THE MAKERS – LILLY
This blogpost is all about the one and only Tallis Creator: Lilly! We’re really happy to tell you a bit more about the mastermind behind our beloved brand.
When did you start Tallis and why?
I started Tallis in 2012 when I moved to Switzerland to create fashion pieces for skiing. From the outset I wanted to include fur and sheepskin in the collection and naturally for me it had to be responsibly sourced. I found that I needed to work hard to find sources of responsible fur or sheepskin, as not many people were thinking of supplying those materials specifically with ethical customers in mind. My first loyal customers were fascinated with how I sourced my materials and I built the brand on that. From a ski fashion niche, Tallis became an ethical sourcing led brand... but if you look back to our first posts on Instagram you’ll see the skiing heritage there.
What did you do before and where do you come from?
I am British and until 2012 I lived and worked in London in the responsible sourcing sector. I have worked on sourcing policy and strategy for various natural commodities such as cotton as well as the food and seafood industries.
We all know that Tallis is a brand making fur accessories, but why did you choose to pair it with cashmere and merinos wool?
I have always loved noble materials such as cashmere and wool and they pair effortlessly with fur and sheepskin. Using natural fibres is really important to Tallis as our products are designed to be breathable and high performance, and you can achieve that with wool products, especially the superior quality of cashmere or merino. And of course these materials biodegrade after use meaning they never become problematic waste products.
It was only a matter of time before I found Faith of Faith Hats, who makes our upcycled beanies and berets. We've had a great relationship from the start, based on our mutual love of sustainability and Faith now produces a fantastic range of Tallis hats using cashmere and merino from unused jumpers. Together we save a lot of jumpers from going to landfill!
That sounds great! Among all your great products, which is your favourite and when do you enjoy wearing it?
This has to be my tippet which I have in charcoal with a blue trim. It hangs year round next to my coats and I must use it nine months of the year. In the bitter winter I use it as a big scarf which keeps out the famous Geneva wind ‘La Bise’. I even ski wearing it, over my ski jacket it looks like an amazing blue furry hood. In the Spring and Autumn I throw it over a leather jacket or light knitwear. I grab it to walk the dog around the block without needing to think too much… if it’s very cold I wear it down like a poncho, if not I gather it round my neck for lighter coverage. Eating outside or having a coffee, I sling it over my knees if I need a little extra warmth. If it’s not that cold I can scrunch it up in my bag without it getting creased. I have literally never washed it (don’t tell my mum that!) because it’s made of only natural fibres. Have I said enough? I couldn’t live without my tippet and I get so many comments about it. I feel a million dollars wearing it because it’s special and valuable. I sewed the fur trim on my own tippet as it was one of the first ones we made, it makes me feel happy knowing that.
As the creator of Tallis, you must have experienced a lot. Do you have any great memories of your Tallis journey?
It has always been, and continues to be, an amazing journey. I look back at the last few years and can’t believe the things I’ve achieved. Some of the people I’ve met, the meetings I’ve walked into, I can’t believe it was me and Tallis.
My son Rex was born in 2015 and, as the company was still starting out, he came along for the ride. I have pictures of him in the stock room lying on a comfy box of cashmere and playing with his toys. He came to Paris Fashion Week when he was seven weeks old, so Tallis is in his blood.
Finally, what advice would you give to those looking to start their own sustainable brand?
You need boundless energy and enthusiasm, never stop thinking about new ideas, be nimble.
Welcome the lows as well as the highs. As Rudyard Kipling said, “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same… ”.
Never lose sight of what your brand brings to your customers, they are why you’re still here.
Sustainability didn’t used to be considered in how we ran the world, but it is now. Now is our moment.
That was our last question! If your curiosity isn't fully satisfied and you have other questions you’d like to ask Lilly, please leave them in the comments under this article and we may do a second interview.