A quick interview with the founder of Lilla by Fia, Sofia (Fia) Tomkins. Learn all about the Danish-born Aussie girl, fighting fast-fashion one gorgeous, ethical dress at a time. Find her label scattered across Australia, Bali and Canada.
QUICK RAPID FIRE.
How old are you? I’m 21
Favourite TV show? This Danish crime show called Dicte.
Favourite fruit or vegetable? Cauliflower! Especially cauliflower soup.
Favourite song? I love Methel Ethel.
You were born in Denmark, right?
Yeah … but I didn’t actually grow up there. We moved to Australia when I was only a few months old, to be closer to my dads family. I spent most of my childhood by beaches and in a small town south of Sydney called Gerringong, but we later moved up to the Sunshine Coast.
Danish culture was still a huge part of my upbringing, as my Danish mother brought my sister and I up … we celebrated traditional events and ate typical danish food and frequently visited, things like that.
DOWN TO BUSINESS.
Why did you start Lilla by Fia?
I’ve always lead a conscious lifestyle; went to op shops, made my own clothes, thought about what I ate and reduced plastic where I could. But I’m currently studying fashion design and last year we did a unit on sustainable fashion. I think that’s when I looked into the effects of fast fashion and really wanted to make a difference.
Launching my own label has been pretty tricky. I started out doing markets (and still am), but it’s hard when you don’t sell anything – you think you’re not good enough. You just have to remain positive.
I’ve done everything myself – designing, pattern making, grading, sewing, dyeing and selling my product. I designed my own website and I run the Instagram by myself … I think it’s difficult to own a business at my age, but I feel if I stick to it, it might inspire other young designers to pursue their dreams. It’s liberating saying I made a garment myself. I’m happy when I go into work each day.
What makes Lilla by Fia a conscious label?
The fabrics used throughout the collection are hemp and organic cotton, and they’re sourced from Western Australia and manufactured off shore (as there are currently no facilities in Australia that produce hemp as a fibre). Hemp is a wonderful fibre; it’s durable, absorbent, and softens with wear. The fibre requires little water and grows at a fast rate. Organic cotton is woven with the hemp for a more comfortable garment.
I designed, drafted, cut, sewed and hand dyed the current collection myself. Each piece is beautifully made with love and care, and there is little to no waste once the pattern is cut, as the scraps are used as clothes tags. Smaller scraps are also used to attach the swing tags.
All screen printing is done locally using eco friendly inks, and the business cards and swing tags are printed with plant based inks and printed on recycled paper. The Australian company I chose to print with doesn’t use harmful chemicals, as the inks are plant based and chemicals are not used when rinsing machines.
It’s quite easy to be conscious about what packaging or swing tags etc. you use. It may be a little more expensive, but it’s worth it.
Why have you chosen to introduce a natural dye every season?
Lilla in Danish means lilac/mauve – essentially purple. I was inspired by the colour as there are many natural dyes that are purple; plants or flowers you wouldn’t expect. So every season I’m going to introduce a different natural dye that is the colour purple. This is what I love most about the word, lilla.
I chose avocado this season because the seeds are a by product which I source from a local cafe in the area, making it easily accessible (and free!). Also, the avocado seeds produce an earthy pink tone which is perfect for lilla.
Describe a typical Lilla by Fia shopper.
A person who is mindful of eco fashion and understand the effects of fast fashion, on the farmers, workers and the environment.
What’s next for you, and Lilla by Fia?
I would like to own my own shop one day, but overall I just want to inspire young women. Through Lilla by Fia, I want to create awareness of fast fashion, and just create a label that don’t cost the planet.
Advice for women all over the world dreaming of opening their own business – or label?
Be determined. If you put the effort in, the rewards will be worth it. Every time I see someone wearing my garments, it truly warms my heart.