Interview with Lillian Dokken

This month I had the pleasure of interviewing my friend Lillian Dokken!  The owner and designer of the jewelry line Lilli Dokken. She is a breath of fresh air in a market saturated by fleeting fades and cheap knock offs, she is a true classic, and her designs reflect that!  I loved hearing about her design process, favorite pieces and what it takes to balance a successful business and home life.  All you note takers make sure you pull out pen and paper, she is about to drop some wisdom your way! Enjoy!

Photo: Loren Maring

Tell me a little bit about yourself, what do you do?

First off, I am so excited to have this interview with you! Thank you! 

I am Lillian Dokken, Jewelry Designer and Owner at Lilli Dokken. I went to Savannah College of Art and Design, where I discovered my passion for designing. The entire process, from ideation to prototyping, captivated me. No matter how difficult the task, I was committed to seeing my ideas become a reality. I found my niche, and I found my voice. After graduating with a B.F.A. in Jewelry and Objects, I designed accessories at Lilly Pulitzer. For the past two years I have done some freelance design, but mostly pursued my own brand.  

Photo: Crystal Martel  > Prop Styling: Loren Maring

Photo: Crystal Martel  > Prop Styling: Loren Maring

Have you always had an eye for jewelry and fashion?

Yes, I have. I like to say that adorning others is “a part of my being”. It started when I was young and has continued throughout my life. My family has always joked that they had their own personal stylist. I have memories of every family member asking me about something with their outfits every Sunday morning. Since I was young, it’s was instilled in me to help others feel confident and beautiful.

I originally went to SCAD to study Fashion Design or Marketing, but really wanted to try a jewelry because I’ve always loved jewelry and made it a lot growing up. I took Intro to Jewelry, was enthralled that this “manly thing” (using big tools and torches) could make such feminine, beautiful jewelry. I knew after that first class that I had found my obsession, and I wanted to do it for the rest of my life. 

When did you first become interested in design? 

I've always had an eye and zeal for creating, but it wasn’t until my Junior year when I realized that designing was really where I felt gifted. I took a corporate sponsored class with The Limited. This basically means that the class works // designs for the company based on their ideal client, trend research, color inspiration, etc. IT WAS A DREAM! It was my favorite quarter in school. I thrived on the all-nighters and hard work. In the end, I had 6 pieces picked that were sold in their stores. We had a big event for it, and my “ah ha moment” was seeing the pieces that I dreamt up and prototyped on the CEO, mannequins, and other people at the event. It was such a fulfilling moment, and I am so thankful that SCAD gave me that opportunity! It was when I knew what I wanted to do with my life. After that, I did as much as I could to prepare me for a design job after graduation. 

Explain a little bit about your process.

My typical process for a collection is to come up with a concept and really pour into that. I pin TONS of images on that concept and really dig into words, shapes, colors, and textures based on that inspiration. I print images out, make a massive mood board, and then start sketching. Sketching to me is physically drawing, but I also sketch by laying stones out and playing with the colors and placement of them. It is my favorite part of the process! From there, I eliminate and narrow things down. I then make samples of the pieces (solder and assemble them together) as well as make detailed specs for my US manufacturers. These specs call out everything they need to know in order for me to get the quality I want. Based on my specs and samples, the product gets soldered and sent back to me for assembly and cold connections. Once I am done with this, they’re sent off to my plater. All my component’s base metal is brass, but they get plated in a matte, 24k gold, antique finish. Once the product is plated, it is sent back to me, and I set the stones. It’s quite an ordeal, but it’s the name of the game and worth it because I want to keep everything in the US and as local as possible.

Photo:: Loren Maring

Photo:: Loren Maring

You just launched your first collection! CONGRATULATIONS!  What have you learned about yourself in the process?

OH - THANK YOU! I mean it’s literally surreal hearing those words. Boy, it’s been a long journey. I could honestly write a novel on everything I have learned about myself in the process! So I’ll keep it as short as possible and just give my top 3:

1. I’ve learned that my perfectionist personality is great to have, but sometimes you have to let things go or it will never get done. 

2. To (try) to love myself more and not be so hard on myself. I am my own worst critic, and I am a one-woman show right now - so working by yourself AND for yourself can be hard if you don’t learn to forgive and love yourself some.

3. Human interaction is crucial. Working from home can easily allow me to hermit myself. Scheduling time to see others is key to force me to get dressed, get ready, and get out.

Do you currently have a favorite piece?

I joke that I don’t like to say it aloud because I don’t want to hurt the others feelings… 

- The Lyndsey Statement has had my heart from day one. Something about her feels like heirloom, which I love. I also love her color combo and how glam she is. https://lillidokken.com/products/lyndsey-statement-necklace

- The Lilli Bug concept is also near and dear to me. I have collected vintage bug brooches for quite some time, so it was only natural for me to start using them as inspiration for my own designs. My plan is to launch a Lilli Bug design with each collection, so you too can acquire special bejeweled bugs!

https://lillidokken.com/products/ss-2017-lilli-bug

As a female entrepreneur and wife how do you balance work and your personal life?

This is so hard and something I am still learning and working on. Thankfully, my husband is extroverted, so he is very good at making plans that keep us social or planning time to spend with each other. I would say that has been the biggest help for me – planning things outside of work.

What advice can you give others wanting to get into your field? 

Nothing good comes quickly or easily. I’ve always heard that, but thought that I could beat those odds… News flash - you can’t. Just hang in there and know that there is no winning in comparison and shortcuts.

 

Photo: Crystal Martel  > Prop Styling: Loren Maring

Photo: Crystal Martel  > Prop Styling: Loren Maring

Where can others stay in touch with you and purchase your products?

We are currently online only: www.lillidokken.com, but if you own a store and you’re interested in selling my pieces please feel free to contact me: info@lillidokken.com or lillian@lillidokken.com

Ok now for some fun questions!

Favorite city to visit:  

I hate how cliche I sound, but New York. I wanted to live there so badly and it was a goal of mine, but life doesn’t always go as planned and usually works out better ;) But there is something about that city that makes me feel so confident and happy.

Favorite food:

I love sweet and savory! My go-to is ground turkey taco meat with a taco seasoning I make, corn, onions, peppers, cauliflower rice, lots of lime, and the key ingredient is sweet potato!!!

Favorite way to spend your weekend?  

Going to Zumba on Saturday AM, and just hanging with my husband and trying to relax as much as possible. I’m the worst at stopping to do nothing, so we usually try to do things around the house, drive with the windows down looking at beautiful houses in Nashville, or binge watch whatever show we are currently watching. 

Dog or Cat?  

I love cats but Sloan is allergic, and we’re both more dog people at heart! We have 2 pups that are like children. We love them so much!

What makes you feel loved?  

My top two love languages are words of affirmation and acts of service.

 

Isn't Lillian JUST SO LOVELY!!  I loved this interview and could not get over her line of "nothing good comes quickly or easily," what a strong and accurate motto for young entrepreneurs! I hope you are as inspired by Lillian's interview as I was, and that in turn you dream a little bigger and dig your heels in a little deeper to see your dreams come to light!  Nothing is impossible!

xoxo,

VC

 

May Inspo

Here's what I'm loving this May!

This rubber tree plant is making all my plant dreams come alive... I am on the hunt for one (hit me up if you know of a good spot in Nashville that sells them)

These stairs!  And terra-cotta floors are my absolute FAVORITE!

This cut and color!!  Right now I'm loving my long locks but one day I'm going short and blonde!

Geo Nails!

This DRESSSSSSSS!!!  

Natural light entryways, wood floors, white walls and that ficus. 

Greece....always....Greece

This shirt...I'm currently trying to track it down, it's a must have! 

xoxo,

Victoria

My Favorite Workouts

I never thought I would be that person who loves working out, or for that matter would work out consistently.  I dreamt of being her but didn't know how to get there. I would feel discouraged at my lack of strength or stamina after a workout instead of feeling encouraged so I never stuck with anything.  Because of my lack of knowledge when I first started I thought I'd  share some thoughts about the discipline of working out, as well as some of my favorite workout regimes.  I still consider myself a fitness newbie with only two years of working out under my belt, and little did I know that the key to seeing results is patience and discipline.  Two things I previously had never been very good at.  Nowadays it's impossible for me not to work out at least two to four times a week, it's become a habit and one i'm hoping sticks around for the rest of my life!

  Here are the workouts I LOVE and the ones I currently do:

Kayla Istine's Beach Bikini Guide (BBG)

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It's only fitting that I start with the workout that changed my life and changed the way I thought about my body!  This workout made me feel strong and helped me transform the shape of my body from boyish to curvy, just what I was looking for.  Tracking my progress each week with my best friend kept me motivated and drove me to continue even when burpees were on the agenda. For the record I still hate burpees, and I still check in with my best friend who lives across the country to stay motivated after two years.

 With 6.7 million Instagram followers this Aussie fitness instructor knows what she is talking about.  Her Sweat with Kayla workouts are designed for those who only want to work out 30 minutes a day three times a week.  They consist of HIIT training (High Intestity Interval Training) that you do at home or at the gym.  You can find her workouts and meal plan on her Sweat With Kayla app, which runs at $20 a month, that's cheaper than a gym membership!

Here is an example of a workout in week one. You complete each circuit within seven minutes and do the entire workout twice, or as many times as you can within 30 minutes.  

 I recently started this program again and since i'm further along in my training i now do these with either a weighted vest or ankle weights. It's been fun to see how far I've come from the very first time as I struggled to get everything finished in the 30 minute time frame!  Plus, there is something so satisfying knowing you'll be finished in 30 minutes, I pop on a Netflix show and go.

Here is a photo of my first round of BBG. In the before photo I would sporadically go to the gym and do mainly cardio.  The after is 41 weeks of BBG,  3 to 4 times a week, without following a meal plan. I was ecstatic at my results!  

41 Weeks of BBG 

41 Weeks of BBG 

Class Pass

After nine months of high intensity workouts at home i was feeling burned out on strength training alone. I was feeling tired and unmotivated, plus my body was telling me it was a little worn out.  My coworker and I decided to sign up for Class Pass, with payment plans for 3, 5 or 10 classes a month I could pick and choose what types of workouts I wanted to do and when.  It was so fun, I would try boxing one week, then Hot Yoga the next, I fell in love with a trampoline class and TRX but continued to mainly do HIIT workouts. I hit my one year milestone of consistent workouts in September and noticed my adrenals were feeling a little worn down. I decided to take out two of my HIIT days to incorporate either a Pilates class or a trampoline class (think small indoor trampolines from the 80s) into my workout.  Both were easy on my joints and my adrenals.  And that's when it happened, I fell in LOVE with Pilates!

(USE MY FRIEND CODE AND GET $30 OFF YOUR FIRST MONTH OF CLASS PASS)

Pilates (Reformer)

Pilates was one of those workouts for me that I'd tried off and on over the years and honestly didn't understand why people loved it so much.  In my mind nothing was happening, you weren't breaking enough of a sweat to burn calories and I felt a little awkward with my feet in straps. I was wrong!!!! Pilates is pure gold, it feels like this secret weapon that i suddenly have access too.  It has taught me how to go slow, how to listen to my body, how to correct poor form and how to protect myself from injury.

 More conventional or traditional workouts are weight bearing and tend to build short, bulky muscles - the type most prone to injury. Pilates elongates and strengthens, improving muscle elasticity and joint mobility. A body with balanced strength and flexibility is less likely to be injured.

 I also realized that when i left my classes i felt longer, stretched and energized instead of depleted.  For me it will always be apart of my workout routine for the rest of my life, I even have dreams of one day becoming a teacher.

Let's Talk Recovery

Since I'm currently working out 4 times a week to prepare for our family beach vacation with a balance of two HIIT days and two Pilates days I focus a ton on recovery.  After dealing with a few minor injuries I realized how important recovery truly is. If one group of muscles is overworked or tired others will kick in and try to over compensate for their weak counterparts, and that's when injury can happen.  Here's what I swear by to stay on top of your game:

  • Foam Roll - I know it's not enjoyable but it's worth it!  Here's a great article if you'd like to learn more about self-myofascial release.
  • Epsom Salt Baths - The holy grail for sore muscles! 
  • MSM Powder - MSM is an organic form of sulfur. 
    • Sulfur is vital to the creation and regeneration of the body's tissues.  It is found in every cell in the body.  Approximately half of the sulfur in your body is concentrated in the muscles, skin and bones.  When rigid fibrous tissue cells swell and become inflamed, pressure and pain result.  MSM restores the flexibility and permeability of cell walls allowing fluids to pass through the tissues with ease.  This means that the cells can quickly get rid of garbage that is constantly being created inside the cell, and the cell can also absorb nutrients more easily.  MSM is a powerful detoxifier that allows harmful substances such as lactic acid and toxins to flow out of cells in the joints and muscles, thereby equalizing the pressure and eliminating the cause of pain.  This prevents the pressure buildup in cells that causes inflammation and reduces muscle soreness and cramps.
  • Rest days - Getting enough rest is vital to restoring overworked muscles, you need to give your body time to recharge.
  • Water, water, water and more water.

Where I Work Out In Nashville

Thanks to Class Pass I have fallen in love with a few studios and teachers.  Below is who I'm currently learning from!

  • Springtime Fitness - Trampoline and Pilates - owner Lisa Madden is very nice and her brain is an encyclopedia of knowledge on the human body.
  • Swell Studio - Moderate to advanced Pilates reformer class - April Tate and Stephanie Johnson are the two teachers I work out with the most, April is a licensed physical therapist!
  • Marathon Pilates - Tamara Tweedy, Emily Barbee and Lyndsey Rae are my favorite teachers here.  If you've had a rough week or are feeling stressed take Tamara's class, it's like getting a long hug from your mom/aunt/best friend, she's the best....and she taught in Paris, how cool! 
    • FYI- Marathon is holding free mat classes every Thursday night in April at the Whole Foods in Green Hills at 6pm! 
  • Pilates Garage - Take Amanda Brinsko's class, you won't regret it.

I hope this post has encouraged you to find a workout routine that you enjoy.  Maybe you love running or hiking, swimming or yoga, then do that!  It should always be about having fun.  We don't work out to look like people on the cover of magazines, we work out to feel strong and to thank our bodies for being incredible.  I work out now for what I want in the future. One day I would like a family and I want to be able to roll around on the floor with my kids.  That's my motivation, the joy of feeling good in my body is just a perk.  Not to mention it's really FUN, if it's not fun then chances are you're not going to stick with it. Half the time I choose to workout with friends, there is nothing better than leaning over in the middle of a tough class to laugh together.  Find what's right for your body, have fun and believe in yourself, you'll be amazed at how good you'll feel!

xoxo

Victoria