Celebrating Kailani TL's 4th Birthday - We interview Founder Alicia Smith on all things business
To celebrate Kailani The Label's 4th year since officially launching, I thought what better way to celebrate than to share a little exclusive about me (Alicia) as the Founder of Kailani, and the origin of my envisioned dream for Kailani and what it has shaped into many years later..
Kailani The Label officially launched in July 2018, but was something I had been envisioning for a while. Now many years later I can't believe how far I have come, how much my goals and dreams have changed and grown as I have moved through different phases of my life. I am so proud to have this beautiful business created that I hold so close to my heart that allows me move through the different passions of mine and evolve along with me.
Can you please share more with us on how you got started with Kailani? What was your vision? What was the inspiration behind the brand? (share a little of your origin story)
When I first started Kailani The Label, it was actually called Kailani Leather, and I launched my business to sell my custom made handcrafted leather items that I was making for friends, family & locally and I needed a place to expand who I was creating for, and reach like minded people who shared the bohemian vision I loved. My dream was to create bohemian leather treasures for them that they could cherish forever.
Over time, as I got busier and busier with creating in the leather studio, somewhere along the lines I lost my passion for it, and my goals of my personal life & the business I had created didn't align anymore.. I wanted to travel, and live life on the road, which hand crafted leather (which is soo time consuming, and required me to work in the studio for longgg days) just didn’t suit that lifestyle I so desperately craved to have.
Which is where the idea of designing & creating textiles came in, specifically throw rugs. I loved the idea because traveling was what I wanted for my life & what I craved so desperately to fill my life with, that a picnic rug & travel blanket seemed like the perfect product to focus on next. This was when Kailani leather was rebranded as the business you all love & know today, Kailani The Label.
I spent hours upon hours learning how to draw & design, and craft my own collection of throws that were unique to Kailani, as I knew I wanted to bring through the unique, exclusiveness the handmade leather gave to my business, through to the throws & picnic rugs too.
While right now I am not traveling, and I have of late found a love for interior styling, I feel that the wanderer in you never really goes away, and that you get to bring that sense of bohemian heart into your home through how you style & express yourself in your home. To me, adventuring, even if it's just weekend trips, a day out exploring, or a never ending holiday combines with what you want to do with your home, how you want to feel in your home & what you want it to look like. The bohemian heart is expressive, a lover of colours, who desires to be fulfilled with joy and happiness in their everyday life.
And that is what I want to share with the world, that is what my vision has evolved to for Kailani The Label over the years. To be able to inspire people through pattern, prints & colours to create a life they feel happy to be living, while outdoors & in the comfort of their home.
Where do you find inspiration for all of your designs and everything you create? What inspires you?
I draw inspiration from sooo many different places.. I love looking through markets and vintage shops at fabric and old prints & patterns, or vintage carpet and rugs... One of my previous elements of a pattern was inspired by a tile that was featured in a really old house I did a photoshoot in once. But most of all, I am inspired by nature. I love the beach, I am such a beach girl, but I also am obsessed with flowers. If I could surround myself with flowers all day, I definitely would and love to always have some fresh flowers in my home.
Running a business isn’t easy. What have been some of your biggest lessons since starting Kailani?
Oh that’s tough as there has been so many..
I’m not going to lie, some days I feel like giving up. I have bad days and REALLY bad days, everyone does, I have days that are filled with tears, questioning myself and my business, wondering if it’s meant to be this hard, why I choose to be an entrepreneur instead of going to a job and then being able to come home and switch off, where EVERYTHING didn’t fall on me. But if I am totally honest, I think every business owner has these days. Business is hard, you have to wear so many hats, manage so much at once, worry about not only your personal finances but the businesses..
What gets me through those days, is taking time out. When I’m feeling hopeless and lost, I know it’s’ time to step away, take a day off, wollow in my sadness, then after I have let myself feel the feelings, vent to friends or family, or someone trusted who understands a little(I call this my business bestie) I get up the next day, I have a plan in my mind on what to do next to overcome whatever it was that got me down, and I just make some kind of action.. Because without action you will be at a standstill.
What do you find the most rewarding or fulfilling? What do you love most about running Kailani?
I love designing and creating.. I love the days where I get into such a creative flow, and I feel so damn inspired and watch my vision slowly come to life.. I also really love the creativeness of photography, although I haven’t had a chance to do too much of it lately, I hope to get out and do more photoshoots and photography soon. I just bought lights for a little mini studio step up and can’t wait to set it up and get creative with product photography. I also have plans on getting back into my travel photography. I used to be pretty obsessed with adventuring all around TNQ taking photos at beautiful places, and I really want to start doing that again.
What’s one piece of advice you’d pass on to someone wanting to start their own business or create their own brand?
My advice would be, to do it. If it is your dream, then you can make it work. Learn everything you can about business, and the niche you want to create a brand in, and just start, a small action is better than no action.. I have had a few product ideas that I have sat on for years now for Kailani, being too afraid to really launch them, and the past few months I decided I am DOING IT, I am finally working really hard on adding them into the business, but I wish I had done it sooner.. Don’t sit on your dreams, take action, and don't be afraid to pivot as your dreams and goals change, because they will as you grow…