Sofia Tomkins from Lilla by Fia
Lilla by Fia is the slow fashion business that came out of the Sunshine Coast of Australia. Every piece is designed, drafted, cut, sewn and hand dyed by the beautiful founder, Sofia.
The pieces are made from a mixture of hemp and organic cotton fabric, and are all plant dyed. The current range is dyed pink from the pip of an avocado. Something I never knew was possible before I came across Lilla by Fia. If you want to read the full deep dive into Lilla by Fia, you can do so here.
As for all these Beyond the Brand interviews, the goal is to help connect the products you (and I) love, with the founders that work so tirelessly to create it. I hope you enjoy this one, I most definitely did.
What made you start Lilla By Fia?
I am currently studying fashion design on the Sunshine Coast. We had a unit last year based on sustainability and were encouraged to watch the film The True Cost – I would highly recommend. I was faced with the effects fast fashion has on the environment, workers and local communities across the world. By this stage, I had to rethink my own ethics but I wanted more. I wanted to change the way people perceive fashion and give them an alternative, slow fashion.
That’s how Lilla by Fia began. I wanted to create awareness and educate people. We need to demand transparency within our supply chain in order to help these local worker and the fragile eco system we live in.
What is something others wouldn't know about starting a conscious business that you think they should?
The time and effort it takes to create a garment. It takes hours of designing, pattern making, toiling and sewing. Some people are so disconnected from the design and construction process, they tend to forget an actual person has created the garment. I think the most difficult thing I find is people don’t appreciate the effort that goes into each garment. The price reflects the materials and time spent into creating a garment but the overheads are a huge part of the cost which allows myself to keep creating garments in Australia.
What has been the most challenging thing you have uncovered since the beginning?
As I said above, finding the support from locals who want to support and appreciate the effort that goes into a garment. I find most people like the concept but just don’t have the money. I find if you buy quality over quantity then you can justify the price.
Within the ethical fashion community, there's a big question that we ask which is 'Who made my clothes?', in the scope of Lilla by Fia, who made your clothes?
I create all my own clothes from designing, pattern making, grading, cutting, sewing, finishing and tagging. I sell Lilla garments at local markets, in particular Peregian Beach Markets on the Sunshine Coast in Australia. I am a young designer trying my best to make the world a better place, that’s all.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
Be humble. If you stick to your ethics with the environment in mind and aren’t persuaded by cheap and/or poor quality materials then I think you’re doing pretty well.
One tip you'd give to others who are wanting to start their own business?
My advice is to start small and slowly grow your idea or business. If you believe in your product and tackle the situation with a positive yet realistic attitude, there is nothing stopping you. As long as you work hard and dedicate yourself, anything is possible.
Where do you envision Lilla by Fia in the future?
I hope to continue creating ethical and sustainable clothing for Lilla by Fia. I want to educate people on the impacts of fast fashion. I want to create awareness, I want to help prevent fast fashion altogether, if it’s possible.
What or who inspires you to do what you do on a daily basis?
The environment. I do what I do for the love of fashion but also thinking of my impact I have on the environment. I use hemp because it’s durable, absorbent and softens with wear. The fibre requires little water, limited pesticides and herbicides, and grows as a fast rate.
Do you have a morning routine? If so, what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?
I don’t have a set routine but I wake up early, enjoy breakfast and start the day with a clear mind.
One book everyone should read? Why?
I’m not a huge reader, I don’t have the time. I read books only on holidays but the latest book I received is called ‘Marrakech by design’ which was inspired by a recent trip to Morocco. It is filled with lovely natural dye colours, architecture, hand embroidery and beautiful Moroccan rugs.
Are there any other Movers & Shakers out there in your world that you think people should know about?
I just did a shoot with Brooke Elizabeth Photography and she is wonderful to work with. The shoot was a collaboration with Woven Palm by Kim Bexton who hand makes her own shoes. The designs are unique and the quality of her work is amazing. I’m in love with what she is creating!
& there you have it. Another interview done & dusted. I hope this helped you to connect a little more with why this beautiful clothing exists, alongside the story you can tell others when they ask where you got your clothing from.