I haven’t written a post in a while for two reasons (1) I’ve been having the time of my life in Thailand (when you’re too busy having fun to take photos, you know it’s a great thing), and (2) I’ve been using every spare moment of leftover time to launch my business – INA + ILIA. Continue reading to learn more about the inspiration behind INA + ILIA on Mother’s Day – a day that celebrates the women we all look up to, including my incredible mom, Lena.
So, what’s with this new website INA + ILIA?
If you know me, you know I love to travel. I spent my childhood traveling between my hometown of Los Angeles, California and Sweden where both of my parents are from. Traveling was, in many ways, representative of ‘going home’ for me – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I also love interior design. Whether decorating my Danish dorm room while studying abroad, exploring antique flea markets in France, buying lanterns in Morocco, or haggling for rugs in Turkey I have always enjoyed discovering and buying beautifully crafted interior decor items abroad.
I’ve transported a number of items across the world in a suitcase, always frustrated that I couldn’t take home more items to share with family and friends. Part of the inspiration of starting my own business is to elevate and share some of the gorgeous arts and crafts I have come across during my travels. But it is also to preserve the now often overlooked unique artistry that still thrives in certain corners of the world during an era of fast fashion, big box retailers, and mass-produced, environmentally unfriendly products.
With my background in global brand management and finance, I have always wanted to start my own lifestyle brand and what better time to try that out than now, when I am traveling around the world with Remote Year? I set out on my Remote Year journey hoping to launch a business by the end of the program. Four months in, here I am ready to go, ready to learn, and ready to get feedback. To start with, I will be offering small quantities of home decor items and accessories that I have picked up along my travels in Southeast Asia thus far. For those items that start to sell well, I will start to scale purchase quantities over time.
Are you trying to compete with Amazon?
Far from it. In fact, the website INA + ILIA is the opposite of Amazon. For now, INA + ILIA is an online boutique offering small batch quantities of hand-curated home décor collections from underserved communities around the world. All of the items are 100% handmade goods, ranging from textiles to paintings and ceramics. Each piece has been hand selected.
Supporting women, their businesses, and their artistic skills
I have always looked up to the strong, artistic women in my family. My mother’s mother, Margit, was a fabulous entertainer, weaver, and painter of porcelain. My mother, Lena, is a skilled chef and wood painter. My father’s side of the family is also filled with women who paint, sing, crochet, and weave. I took for granted that I came from a background of strong Swedish women who were encouraged to hone their artistic skills and were given opportunities that many women around the world are not. It was not until I started traveling as an adult to second and third world countries that I had the opportunity to witness, firsthand, how women are often sidelined or overlooked despite being responsible for creating goods for the family business, raising their children, and taking care of their homes.
Having attended an all girl high school, raised in a household where I was treated equally amongst siblings, and taken on leadership positions in women business organizations throughout college I did not see the inequalities women face on a daily basis until I started working in Corporate America. In fact, the glass ceiling was the worst I have seen in tech, which should represent the future of business. We still have a long way to go in breaking down barriers that exist but if I can help elevate female entrepreneurs and craftswomen in a small way, we can collectively start to break down some of the barriers that remain in the world.
INA + ILIA places particular emphasis on supporting small businesses owned and operated by women. A portion of every dollar spent supports the women and families who craft our products, oftentimes with children at their side. These women represent the future. They not only uphold the stunning traditions of their families but are also typically responsible for childrearing, cooking, cleaning, and selling their products within the community as well.
What does INA + ILIA stand for?
The name comes from the last few letters of my name, Christina, and Cecilia, my older sister. I’ve always been close to my older sister, and as young girls we dreamt of starting a business together one day. The name honors our relationship as well as the bonds that women share together. My goal is to support and uplift other female business owners, female craftswomen, and their communities around the world.
Thank you for your interest in INA + ILIA! Each purchase made will help preserve and support the art of craftswomen and men in underserved communities around the world. Website launching soon!
By all means, if you have advice on import/export or running an online store, please do reach out.