The Beauty of Bella Lili – An Interview With my Favorite Jewelry Designer
It’s been a few years since I first laid eyes on the jewelry of Bella Lili Designs. Back then, her shop was on Etsy, and in that first year, I truly believe that’s where about 98% of my income went. Since then, her business has blossomed into a full-time endeavor, which she balances with raising her two beautiful daughters. She now has her own store online at Bellalili.com, and her work can also be found at a select few boutiques in the Austin area. She’s also amassed a dedicated cult following – there’s even a Facebook group dedicated to swapping Bella Lili pieces!
The jewelry style is “Victorian Couture,” which is an exquisite blend of Victorian, Steampunk, Whimsical, and Classical influences – but with an edge. Autumn Phillips, the creator and mastermind behind Bella Lili designs, is a badass with a delicate side, and it shows not only in her jewelry, but also in her personal style.
Recently, I asked her some questions about her style, her influences, and her beauty regimen. You might want to take some notes – in addition to being a designer and entrepreneur, this woman is also a stone cold fox.
You have a really amazing and unique sense of style. How would you describe it?
I would say that my style is more European. I detest modern and simple. I think anything should have some decorative aspect to its functionality. Even a coat.
Who are your style icons?
My style icons would be Alexander McQueen for his vision and edge, Daphne Guinness with her dark allure and timeless class, and Kerli, an Estoian born singer with an flare for daring. There are many more who have inspired be throughout my growth as an artist, it’s hard to name them all.
Do you have a set skincare routine? If so, what does it include?
My set skincare routine is currently in transition. I have just finished transitioning off of my Shisido routine (I found that after a year or so of use, the products didn’t perform as well as they used too). AM: Cleanse, tone, oil, moisturize, SPF. PM: remove makeup (I ADORE the Neutrogena blue makeup wipes), cleanse (with Clarisonic), eye cream, oil, heavy moisturizer. At least once a week I try to use a clarifying step in the pm, I really love the honey/aspirin mask.
My current list of products is:
1 – Cleanse with Cerave
2 – Tone with witch hazel
3 – Nourish with argan oil
4 – Moisturize with Cerave moisturizer
5 – Protect with Josie Maran tinted moisturizer with spf 30 (I can’t use foundation, it breaks me out),
1 – Remove makeup with Neutrogena wipes (blue packaging)
2 – Cleanse with Cerave and Clarsonic
3 – Tone with witch hazel
4 – Eye pampering with Bio Performance Eye Cream by Shisideo
5 – Nourish with argan oil
6 – Moisturize with Cerave moisturizer
Clarify as needed:
I will replace my Cerave with a clarifying mask with black soap as needed and on the same day follow up with Argan Balm to really pack on the good nutrients to refresh and revive skin. It soaks in overnight and in the AM. I glow.
A honey/aspirin mask happens 1x a month or so to give a little boost to my routine if I start noticing my skin looks a little more dull than I like.
How old were you when you started wearing makeup?
I remember starting to wear makeup my freshman year. However, I remember playing with it at a very early age. Much to my mothers dismay, as I used the pretty containers like paint pots to decorate the walls and my face. During high school years was really when I started wearing it more regularly, to accent an outfit like an accessory, a practice I still use today. Most days I go au natural.
What is your every day makeup routine like?
Tinted moisturizer some days, mascara everycday.
What makeup product will you not leave your house without?
Mascara. I used to swear by my Mally, but it dried out too fast and found a great drug store standby to replace it. L’Oreal Voluminous in carbon black is my gold standard. It’s affordable and I can always find it anywhere.
What are your Top 5 Favorite Beauty Products of all time?
• Orgasm Blush by Nars
• Kat Von D Black Tattoo Eyeliner
• Josie Maran Tinted Moisturizer
• Too Faced Color Correcting Eye Primer
• Mally Bronzer
How did you get started with jewelry?
I started my jewelry as a necessity. I was married with a child while living in Wyoming and was so frustrated at the lack of jewelry. I had an Air Force Ball to attend, my dress was indigo bordering on black and I wanted deep wine red crystal jewels to accent. I couldn’t find anything close, so I bought a few different things and started to experiment with my tools. I have always been a tinker, very good with my hands and could easily repair most things.
Jewelry became a hobby for years, and I had some success selling to family. friends and coworkers. But eventually jewelry took a back seat after a divorce, while I focused on raising kids and pursuing a career in HR. Fast-forward to the housing market crash and my HR stint stalled, I fell back on jewelry to supplement my unemployment benefits and not to go insane. I discovered Etsy in between job interviews and it fast became a full time job. In no time, I was supporting myself and my two kids on Etsy income alone. Now I have weaned myself off Etsy and am in the process of growing my business.
Where do you find your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from books, music and movies. I rarely watch TV, and purposely stay away from fashion. I do not want to be accidentally inspired by another designer or copy someone else’s work. Books are my escape, my guilty pleasure. When I read, I see images like a movie. A well written book can come alive like a movie in my head, and author can paint the sky with words and line someone’s face with echoes of their past. It’s intoxicating to read a wordsmith’s tale.
Do you every make pieces that you just can’t bear to part with?
I make my pieces for the joy of creating, I haven’t made anything yet that I wish I would have kept. I only mourn them when I forget to photograph them. I only make things because they sell. When things do not sell, I rework them or gift them to friends and family. When that happens, I usually do not make anymore in that series.
What is a typical day like for you?
My week days are like this:
6:15 alarm goes off, I consider getting out of bed.
6:25 I read emails, check fb fan page
6:45 finally get out of bed, wake the kids
6:50 1st cup of coffee (love my Keurig)
6:55 2nd attempt at waking kids
7:00 2nd cup of coffee, check emails
7:15 get lost in responding to emails
7:30 herd kids out of the door, 3rd cup of coffee for the trip
7:45 snarl at idiot soccer mom while I guzzle coffee and blear through coke bottle glasses, embarrass my teenager as I shout “LOVE YOU” when she exits the vehicle. So her peers can see my pj haute messy self. Its the little things that keep you going.
8:00 on a coffee high, I finish editing pics from the night before, post to website and fb (scheduling throughout the day, so it looks like I am on there most of the day)
11:00 sandwich for lunch while I print invoices and order materials
11:30 studio time, usually interrupted by a text or phone call or 20
2:00 shower, skincare activities of the most funnest kind.
3:00 pick up youngest from school
3:15 mail run
3:30 local butcher/grocery run ( I am a foodie and love to cook)
4:00 finish up an pieces for the day, while helping youngest with homework
4:30 oldest comes home from school and I am regaled with her trials and tribulations of a teenage life.
5:45 photograph finished pieces.
6:00 make dinner
6:30 trash no good pics, retake any if needed
7:00 edit pics
7:30 bed preparation for youngest.
8:00 bedtime for youngest and finish editing pics.
8:30 more alone chatting with teenager and mom sort of duties
9:00 more editing of pics.
10:00 read, take notes and make a list of “to do’s” for the following day.
11:30 bed prep and skincare gala of events.
12:00 to 6:15 dream of jewelry and far away vacations.
How long did it take you to realize that your jewelry is a huge success / Was there a moment that helped you realize that your work was a big hit?
I don’t think I have hit that moment where I am a big success. In my mind, I am just a woman/mother/creative type who is trying to live her life by her own rules and raise kids. It’s a huge bonus that people love what I make. It’s humbling and very inspiring. As an artist you never want to disappoint your fans, so you constantly are evolving and growing.
What are you looking forward to right now?
Somewhere in my non-existent free time I have managed to date and develop a relationship with a wonderful man. He recently sold his house and we spent the blending our homes. Now the next step is to plan and design a custom home on some acreage. I can’t wait to have more space to try my hand at home accents.
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You can find Bella Lili Jewelry at her website, BellaLili.com. I encourage everyone to check it out – but don’t blame me when you wind up emptying your bank account!