One thing we have learned since we started Panacea is that pillows are kind of… everything. We use them to weave in key colors and to add texture, interest, and warmth to our designs. No vignette is complete without pillows. Period. So, we’re extremely excited about our collaboration with Lily Koi!
Based in Saigon, Lily Koi is a unique line of handmade and hand-dyed textiles inspired by the vivid colors and fabrics of Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand. Sourced from local craftsman in small villages and communes, one-of-a-kind, vintage textiles are hand chosen for their beauty and emotional resonance. These finds are then combined with various beautiful new textiles such as hand dyed silk velvet, cotton, linen, denim and leather. Each piece is unique, and simply splendid!
Yes, Jan and Palmer Earley are our best friends, but they are also brilliant designers and we couldn’t be more proud to carry their textiles in our collection. We recently caught up with Jan to hear more about how she started Lily Koi, her design process, and her favorite places to travel in Southeast Asia.
How did you start Lily Koi? // What were your first steps?
My husband, Palmer Earley, is a lighting designer and he received an offer to create a new lighting design company (Nellcote Studio) with a factory owner in Vietnam. We went to Vietnam to explore the opportunity and we fell in love with the energy and creative atmosphere. We made the decision to move there from Austin.
While Palmer was spending long hours creating his company and factory, I started to travel and explore remote villages around the country. I was fascinated by the culture and talent of the ethnic tribes I met along the way. I was passionately drawn to the textiles and the stories of how they were made and the symbolism of the patterns. I felt the same type of connection I had felt when I started my first company in the music business and I recognized it was my path. After a full year of traveling and sourcing around Vietnam, I designed my first samples.
Where are your favorite places to source for Lily Koi?
Vietnam, Thailand and recently I have expanded to sourcing in Burma (Myanmar).
Tell us about your design/creative process?
My process is very organic. When I am sourcing, sometimes I will see a pattern or textile and I know instantly what I would like to create but most of the time, I just look for pieces that move me. Once I am back at my studio in Ho Chi Minh City, I layout my finds and begin by drawing patterns based on the usable dimensions of each piece.
What project are you most proud of so far? Why?
I am very proud of the talented seamstresses I work with. My team consists primarily “differently abled” women in Vietnam who work from their homes.
I also have great pride Lily Koi is creating a revenue source for the people in the small and remote villages in SE Asia. The additional income allows families to continue teaching their traditional farming, unique dying and weaving processes to their children.
You live part time in Vietnam and have traveled extensively in Southeast Asia. What are some of your favorite places to visit there, and why?
There are so many fabulous places to visit in SE Asia, and being based in Vietnam, it’s very quick and easy to travel to many countries.
Right now, I am completely fascinated by Burma (Myanmar). In addition to artistic talents that emerge from the country, the physical beauty of land is breathtaking, the temples are stunning and the people are incredibly kind. There are still large areas of the country that are off-limits to casual travellers for security reasons or simply very hard to access due to bad transport and road infrastructure, but even without access to the whole country, there’s so many things to experience.
For relaxation, the beaches in SE Asia are stunning. Some of my favorites are:
Koh Lanta Island, Thailand
Koh Phi Phi, Island, Thailand
Con Dao Island, Vietnam
An Bang Beach, Vietnam
For shopping, great food and nightlife:
What advice do you have for someone wanting to start a creative business, but maybe don’t have the experience or background in that field?
My mantra and advice is always do what you love, with people you love. Live your passion.
Not having experience or background can actually be an asset and allows a fresh perspective and approach when you passionately follow your creativity. You will not be restricted by traditional “rules.”
Look for the moments where your heart and head come together – you will feel it and continue on that path. Trust your intuition.
Go for it and ask questions…lots of them.