Lilla P got their start in 1998 and have been creating elevated and stylish basics ever since; their contemporary brand offers a variety of understated luxury for everyday wear! We were happy to sit down with their founder, Pauline Nakios, and chat about how the business has evolved since it first began in the late 90's. Read on to find out how she grew the business without social media, how the marketing strategies have changed over the years, why she loves working with influencers, and much more!
Hi Pauline! Please tell us about yourself and your background.
I'm originally from Charleston, SC. After graduating from the University of Georgia, I moved to Atlanta where I started Lilla P. I worked in boutiques throughout college as well as after I graduated. The fitted "baby tee" trend began during that time and I set out to create the perfect tee. In 2001, I moved to NYC and began to grow the business. My husband joined the company in 2006 after years in finance and 12 years later, we continue to work together building the brand.
You started your company 20 years ago. What was the fashion industry like back then & how did you grow your business without social media?
It is incredible to look back and see how the industry (and the world) has changed post social media. It has become the way to build brand recognition and engagement. Prior to social media, there was such a focus on magazine placements. While traditional PR is still relevant, social media is where we, like most companies, are putting our energy as well as budget. It is ever changing and so important to stay on top of your game. We continuously analyze what is working and what is not and you have to be flexible and willing to test and try new strategies.
Given that your marketing strategies were different when you first started out...how would you describe the learning curve and integrating digital marketing today?
When we first started our main channel was direct mailers and then gradually moved to basic email marketing. Now we have a full marketing calendar and a team who is running numerous campaigns on multiple channels at the same time. When we were targeting a smaller number of people it was easier to keep our voice. Now that we are reaching millions more with a much wider age range, we have to make sure our copy is relatable to each segment while remaining on brand. It's constant trial and error to find the sweet spot to connect with the right people at the right time on the right channel.
How would you describe the Lilla P. woman? How does Lilla P.'s brand cater to the lifestyle of the Lilla P. woman?
The Lilla P woman is on the go whether she is juggling work, motherhood, or just a hectic life. She is looking for ease and knows quality. She is fashionable yet understated and wants pieces that nod to the trends without being overly trendy. Lilla P is just that. We use quality fabrics and yarns and create styles that can be worn season after season. Our styling is straight forward and well executed. We want our pieces to become those favorites that get worn over and over again.
"The Lilla P woman is on the go whether she is juggling work, motherhood, or just a hectic life." Tweet this.
What are your top 3 tips for curating an Instagram presence as a clothing company?
We have someone in-house who manages our social media platforms. Working very closely with her and our Marketing Director, we plan out our editorial calendar and multiple photo shoots per season to keep our content new and fresh.
- The first tip is to strategically plan out your season - whether it is partnerships, promotions, or new releases always plan ahead.
- Another tip is when posting and shooting content, always stay true to the brand's values. Just because something works for one brand on social doesn't mean it is going to work for every brand.
- Lastly, make sure what you post is relevant to the day you're posting. For example, no one really wants to see a warm cozy bed inspo on a Monday morning when your commuting to work. Just be aware of the news, holidays and days of the week when posting.
Do you work with influencers? How do you decide who you want to reach out to?
Yes, we work with many wonderful influencers; it is a mix of us reaching out to them or them reaching out to us. Either way, we make sure our aesthetic and demographic match for a successful partnership, and we always look for bloggers and influencers who truly love the brand. We always make sure that any partnerships we do are very organic...the number of followers an influencer has is not as important as their engagement. We also dive deep to ensure that their readers and followers are engaged and seem truly interested in what they are posting.
What have been some of the key components that have been successful in growing your brand digitally?
We love using PLANOLY to plan out our posts. We plan our Instagram posts to line up with our editorial calendar each month, and make sure that our email campaigns/themes of the month have a strong and clear voice for our customers and followers. Staying true to our brand identity and values shows through to the content we create and post - that has helped us digitally grow our brand in an organic way.
What are your top tips when it comes to finding inspiration when you're hitting a creative wall?
The internet, and especially Instagram, are incredible tools to use to explore the things you know and the things you don't. It can be places, people, fashion or food. We all find inspiration in so many different ways. While it's always best when I get out into the world and experience things for myself, Instagram allows me to get a glimpse when travel isn't feasible.
What advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers?
The industry is not easy, so find something you do well and stay true to that. It's a crowded space so be known for something! Be flexible and willing to experiment while staying true to your brand.