Louella Odié by mother and daughter design team Karen and Lauren Mead, is fast becoming known for its artworks and other lovely products to swoon over. Hong Kong-born Karen is a trained print-maker and her collection of lithographs are sublime. Everything is done by hand and there is always an ‘East-meets-West’ twist in her work. Her floral lithograph that hangs in her workshop is a constant on my wish-list. Karen studied her craft in Britain; daughter Lauren started in fashion branding, and was working for UK label Jack Wills before she went into business with her mother. Now based on Hong Kong’s Lamma Island, the pair has certainly come full circle, and neither could imagine working with anyone else. A ride over to their atelier and workshop is guaranteed to produce delight at their interesting body of work.
Why Louella Odié?
Karen: As an artist I am never going to stop making my personal work, but I have to be realistic about finding an outlet for it. I recognised within my work there was a commercial element and I’ve chosen to develop that into Louella Odié.
Lauren: I’ve always wanted to work for myself, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.
How did the name Louella Odié come about?
Karen: On the first day I met someone who is now one of my very good friends, she said I didn’t look like a ‘Karen’ and named me ‘Louella’ instead. The name stuck with a large group of my UK friends and I have been Louella ever since. Odié is my mother’s maiden name and as we have a history of creative women in the family we wanted to reflect it in our business name.
Some of the things you might do in a day?
Karen: I try to make sure I draw every day, even if it is just a quick sketch or a scribble. Drawing calms me down. I often spend an entire day working on a print, but could just as easily be found walking around Sham Shui Po looking for fittings for bags. I also teach classes at the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre, so once a week I am with my students in the studio there.
Lauren: Louelle Odié is a small company, so every day is different for me. Some days I spend locked on my computer organising things for a big trade fair we are going to in September. Other days I spend walking around meeting retailers, or – my favorite – meeting bloggers who we can collaborate with!
Describe your style?
Karen: I have no clear idea what my style is, but I am always drawn to extremes, even though I don’t go that far myself. I admire people whose style is decidedly quirky, such as Charlotte Olympia or Lulu Guinness.
Lauren: I now live and work on Lamma Island which has meant a change in style. Gone are the high heels, jackets and pencil skirts, suddenly I am channeling laid-back resort wear that is perfect for island living.
Can you name your three best traits?
Lauren: We’ve decided to pick for each other (so clearly, trust is one trait we share). So, for Mum, I think her three best traits are her intuitive nature. Mum often picks up on body language, colour trends and subtle clues that come from her ability to be permanently observant, even when she isn’t consciously aware she is doing it. Secondly her sense of the ridiculous – Mum can always see a disgusting joke in everything. Finally it goes without saying that Mum is creative, but more specifically her creative problem solving abilities are key to our business. She can create something out of nothing and see solutions I would never spot.
Karen: You soon realise when you meet Lauren how driven she is, to the extent that you wouldn’t stand in front of her for very long because you’d get squashed. She is organised and makes paperwork and all the stuff I hate look easy, but she has a great sense of fun and I love to see her dissolve into giggles.
Who or what inspires you?
Karen: I get visual inspiration from everything around me, but in Hong Kong I particularly like the juxtaposition of the man-made and the natural.
Lauren: I have a number of business women I look up to and am inspired by. This would include Stacey Bendet, the founder of Alice and Olivia, for her own driven nature and her ability to beat to her own drum in terns of style. I would also include Tamara Mellon and Tory Burch on my would-like-to-meet-list.
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