LIFE BRAND….Lisa Lill Studio
Custom. Design. Unique.
In 1999, Jennifer Velarde started 1154 LILL Studio – the original custom handbag company in her small studio apartment at 1154 W. Lill Street in Chicago. She had signed up for her first street fair and decided at the last minute to bring her fabric swatches along with her bags to take custom orders in the booth. She loved pairing fabrics, colors and textures together in interesting ways, and thought others would enjoy this creative outlet as well. She was right. Women were drawn to this unique concept and the framework for 1154 LILL Studio’s original “design your own bag” concept was born. Read the full history/timeline.
Since those early days, Jen and the entire LILL team have grown 1154 LILL Studio into a nationwide business that allows customers to interact creatively, express their individuality and create lasting memories of shared experiences – all around the collaborative design of handbags and accessories. Customers may design online, or in-person in LILL boutiques or at LILL on Location handbag parties across the country. Proudly made in America, LILL Bags are individually tailored to your exact specifications in our Chicago headquarters. We can’t wait to see the LILL bag YOU’LL design.
Unfulfilled in her job as a corporate interior designer, Jennifer Velarde starts thinking about ways she might add more creativity and independence to her life. She sketches thoughts, drawings and business ideas on napkins and hotel notepads while traveling for her job and pulls out her old sewing machine to bring her creations to life. The very first LILL Bags are created in her small studio condo at 1154 W. Lill Street in Chicago, the first place she owns and the first time she lives by herself. The bags, made of remnant fabric swatches and samples, are praised by both friends and strangers when Jen carries them about town.
Encouraged to start her Life Brand family and friends, Jennifer Velarde decides to sign up for a booth at a street fair in Chicago where she can sell the newly named 1154 LILL CHICAGO handbag line. She switches to part-time at her corporate job in order to give herself more sewing time, but still is only able to make about 20 bags and a variety of small accessory pieces in time. It was there that 1154 LILL’s signature custom-order concept is born. Jen realizes that if things go well, she may sell out early and then they will have to sit in an empty booth for the rest of the 2-day fair…and a Life Brand was born!