Laili Lau is a Venezuelan-born and raised fashion designer, grew up in the ever-green Caracas valley, and is currently living in Brooklyn New York. With an Asian and Latin American mixed household and her innate sensibility towards textures and color present in nature, she developed a unique style that comes through since she first started sewing garments back in 2005. Her main drive is to reflect the sense of wonder produced by the natural world and the power of femininity.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm from Caracas, Venezuela. I have loved drawing all my life and nature has always been important to me. My parents raised me by going to the park or to the beach. That influenced me too much, I said, "At some point, I have to study something that allows me to express myself and that nature is involved in a certain way." I always liked drawing but never in my life did I imagine that I would study fashion design, never [chuckles]. My head was always in another world and I constantly said to myself, "Well, I will study art but at the same time I don't like it because it is very theoretical." I was never very clear about my future in terms of what I would study in college. One day, my mom told me about an art school in Caracas and I said, "Okay, great," and well, I started studying there.
The experience at that school was very rewarding, I loved it. Fashion design is a very professional career, that is, you have to know how to sew or make patterns and those are things that I had never done in my life before. I was so bad at sewing that I had a teacher tell me, “Laili, you are on time. You're still in your first year. You sew terribly,” [chuckles]. I graduated and then worked for various brands in Venezuela and the whole process has been very important to develop my own brand and my own style. I liked studying fashion design although honestly, I never saw it as a career itself but I didn't want to be jumping from one university to another and I was like, "I have to finish this no matter what." When I graduated, my teachers really liked my thesis but I was exhausted. I was already like, "This is how far I will go, I can't sew my whole life," [chuckles]. Then, an opportunity arose for me to be the new talent of a project and to design something unique and something that I liked and I could not miss that chance. One thing led to another and I realized that I truly enjoyed it.
What motivates your brand? What is the purpose behind it?
When I was in college and about to graduate, I said to myself, "I can't find something that I really like." I don't know if it had something to do with my ego because I'm usually very specific with what I want, but one day I wanted to try what it felt like to design. What I like most about fashion design, despite it being something very artistic, is that you do something and you have it right there afterward. I like that I do not depend on several people, this is something that only depends on me. I can be very restless many times [chuckles] so I like to do something and be able to touch the physical product quickly.
How did you develop your skills?
Trying it over and over again. Especially, trying to have experiences with other brands and other small designers. When I graduated, I had a completely different style from the one I have now and it's cool to see that process of your growth.
Talk about the process of coming from Venezuela to the United States to fulfill your dreams.
It was very difficult. I had been dedicated to my brand in Venezuela for many years. My brothers had already moved to the United States but my parents were still in Venezuela and I did not want to leave them. In 2017, I applied for a talent visa and they gave it to me. I am a person who loves to control everything she does from the label to the website. Obviously, I had designers in Venezuela who helped me but I always had a lot to do with that too. I have always been like this with all my pieces. I work hard to sew them all. In Venezuela, I had a wonderful assistant but she also left the country, so I practically did everything and I still do.
If you had to give advice to a younger version of yourself, what would you say to her?
"Even if you fail many times, you can at least say, 'I tried, and I learned from this.'"
I would tell her to try everything and not be afraid of anything. In the end, the only things you regret are the things you did not try or did not do. Even if you fail many times, you can at least say, "I tried, and I learned from this." Staying with the desire to have tried something is very hard and it is difficult to ask yourself, "What would have happened if I had made this decision instead of the other?"
What would you say to someone who feels lost and doesn't know what their mission in life is?
"The most important thing is to have patience and understand that each person's process takes time. Don't compare yourself to the person next to you."
I would tell them to write and observe the things they like to do the most. Another thing that I have realized is that life teaches you many things to grow and evolve. When you were little, you had other dreams and now, you grew up and your dreams changed, and all that is also fine. The most important thing is to have patience and understand that each person's process takes time. Don't compare yourself to the person next to you. For many years, I was very frustrated because my brand is small and some of my classmates have their brands very established already, but then I realized that each presence is totally different, and the important thing is to enjoy it and be aware of it. Celebrate your little achievements and enjoy the process. Something I learned here in the United States is how to do many different things and work different jobs [chuckles]. I have had many jobs since I moved. It is important to get rid of those labels and beliefs of, "I had everything and now, I have nothing," simply because you have several jobs. It teaches you to appreciate other people and to be humble. In six months or a few years later you will say, "Everything I have done has brought me this far."
For any questions or inquiries, contact Laili at: