Love Is (Li), is a Swiss jewellery boutique creating luxury custom and limited edition pieces for the discerning jewellery lover.
Founded in January 2013, Li was created out of a passion and love for jewellery from its design through to the creation of the final piece.
Family owned and run, by Esther (mother & goldsmith) & Kathleen McFarlane (daughter & business partner), Li is working to transition itself from an artisanal enterprise to a recognised name in the European jewellery sector.
Here, they talk to us at House of Coco and tell us more…
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
Kathleen: Love Is (Li) was launched in January 2013 by Esther (my mum) and I. I grew up watching Esther design and make jewellery and fell in love with the process. We’ve always been very close and had toyed around with the idea of working together in the past but when I graduated from university, the idea began to pick up momentum and before we knew it, Li was born!
What’s your background?
Esther: I am a trained goldsmith and have been working in the industry for the last 30 years. I grew up in Switzerland and started my apprenticeship when I was seventeen in Lucerne. As one of the first female apprentices, it wasn’t always easy working in a predominantly male environment but I learnt quickly and have been able to travel the world making jewellery!
Kathleen: My father is South African/Irish, my mum (Esther) is Swiss and I was born in Australia. My brothers and I grew up moving between Perth (W.Australia), Johannesburg (S.Africa), Belfast (N.Ireland) and Zurich (Switzerland) getting to know our extended families. We’re a very close-knit little unit! I graduated from university in 2012 with a BS in Business Administration and a BA in Business Management and Li was born six months later… As they say, the rest is history!
Kathleen: Esther and I run Li on a day-to-day basis. Esther makes the pieces whilst I manage the business side of things. We’re quite a dynamic duo but we have an amazing team of setters, photographers, make-up artists, videographers, music producers, a supportive family and dear friends who have all been indispensible. It’s been quite an adventure so far and we’re very lucky to have so many talented and supportive people around us.
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
Kathleen: I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. I think looking back there are always things you could do differently but every little mistake or wrong turn has helped us get to where we are today and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Esther: I agree with Kathleen. The experience can always be put to good use…I don’t think I’ll be retiring any time soon!
What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
Esther: We’re a start-up and it can be difficult to plan how many rings we should cast or when to invest in new stones. There have been some interesting moments but so far, so good.
Kathleen: Time. Everything always takes a little longer than you expect when you are starting up.
Esther: I used to play the violin. If I hadn’t become a jeweller, I would have been a professional violinist.
Kathleen: I use to play basketball & netball competitively in high-school.
2015 is here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
Kathleen: 2014 was all about pushing the boundaries and getting Li out there. This year we are focusing on building a strong foundation by expanding our stockists and growing our customer base. We are working on building our fine jewellery and jewellery lines and will be launching a new collection in May entitled, “Quote Un-Quote”. We have some exciting projects in the works and a trunk show in London mid April… We’re looking forward to seeing what 2015 has in store for us!
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
Kathleen: For me there have been two standout moments, our first blogger mention by The Fashion Fraction and seeing our pieces in store at Wolf & Badger. It can be a little daunting starting something of your own and these two moments were the first time that I felt like we were on the right track.
Esther: I think the first order on our website from a complete stranger. Someone that had no connection to us other than seeing our website and liking our pieces. It really meant a lot.
Kathleen: Ultimately we would like to develop our jewellery line and our fine jewellery lines separately. We see the jewellery line being in high-end boutiques across Europe (initially) and our fine jewellery pieces displayed on-line and in our studio. We are busy working away on some new pieces and collections and look forward to launching them very soon. 2015 looks like it is going to be a busy year for us and we are quite excited to see what happens!
Where can people find out more?