Kaila Uli is the founder of Brillies, a brand that offers the best in vintage and retro sunglasses and is sure to make you stand out from the crowd. Started because of Kailas love for antiques, you can guarantee that these sunglasses won’t be easy to find. A true fashionista, we spent some time with her to find out more about her plans for the future, life in L.A and more… Tell us about the journey that lead you to where you are today…
There are two things I’ve loved since childhood, business and antiques. My mom has an ambitious spirit that I was lucky enough to inherit. Selling vintage items gave me an opportunity to combine the two things I love. Brillies wasn’t my first attempt at business, I’d tried and failed a few times with everything from jewelry to craft packaging. Brillies is a combination of those successes and failures. I was able to scrape together enough knowledge from my previous failures to avoid certain pitfalls and fine-tune my marketing skills.
What made you launch your brand, Brillies?
It was a happy accident. I was living above a vintage store at the time and the owner was generous enough to let me post some online and try to sell them for a 50/50 split. I had my first sale within a few hours. From there, the business took off on its own and blossomed into what it is today.
What was life like growing up in LA?
I grew up in Pomona, a little suburb on the outskirts of L.A. Growing up was rough, I had 6 siblings and there was never enough of anything. My mom did her best to stretch every penny, but it was a difficult time. We moved around a lot in my teens. We went from the desert to the valley, to the mountains. It gave me the chance to meet a lot of folks and develop a very diverse skill set. I’d worked as a travel agent, a snowboard instructor, a salesperson, and a model, in addition to training as an EMT and CPR instructor – all before the age of 23. I’m able to use a lot of these skills to this day.
How do you source such unique sunglasses?
It’s a secret! Most of the folks who supply my shop operate entirely offline. You can only find them through word-of-mouth referrals. It took me several years to find my sources.
Are there plans to extend the range and launch other accessories?
We’re currently developing sunglasses chains and other lifestyle accessories for Spring 2020.
Talk us through an average day in your life…
No two days are the same. Some days are spent sourcing products which means flying around the country, filtering through thousands of old sunglasses and choosing the best ones. Some days are spent entirely on the phone. Some days we do photoshoots, those are the most fun because the team gets to show off their creativity and we spend the day outdoors.
Do you follow a morning routine, if so, what is it?
Not really, I’m more of a nighttime routine person. My mornings consist of grabbing a breakfast bar, a coffee, and dashing to the office.
Looking back, is there anything you would do differently?
I would find a mentor and get more business advice early on. I’ve made many costly mistakes that could have been avoided with better counsel.
What book would you recommend that any aspiring entrepreneur should read?
“You are a Badass” and anything else in the “Badass” series.
What are the pros and cons of being a female entrepreneur?
Cons: I am almost always the only female in the room, which means I’m very often not taken seriously. In 3 years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve only met one other woman in my industry. Pros: There are tons of female-specific resources and I have a great support network in L.A., female entrepreneurs are few in numbers, so we tend to stick close together and become friends quickly. I’ve had to develop very tough skin, but it’s also given me an opportunity to create an all-female team.
What does self-care mean to you?
Proper sleep, proper food, and a proper circle of people. I’m very affected by who I surround myself with, so I need to be with folks who motivate each other. It also means setting boundaries and not giving too much attention to the negative influences in life.
What mantra do you live by?
“Never trade authenticity for approval”, a quote I took from @themantraco – it’s my background on my phone. I look at it every day.
What does 2020 look like for you?
Joining forces with other female-run brands, developing a strong team and putting a strong emphasis on sustainability.Follow Kaila for more… On our website: www.Brillies.co or on our Instagram @Brillies.co