I'll be the first to admit - fashion can be overwhelming. Despite an array options and endless inspiration, I frequently find myself reaching for the same simple, wearable pieces that make me feel good.
A label that has expertly captured this need for beautiful simplicity is LMND – Lemonade. With fresh, wearable pieces that are a main staple in any woman’s wardrobe, LMND has found their niche. Co-founded by Ana María Escobar, who brought decades of fashion and retail experience, LMND brings to life the perfect balance of fun and easy-to-wear pieces at an affordable price point. We spoke to Ana about her experience launching the brand, how she makes it work with a young son and how her passion shines through all she creates. With dresses, shirts and their highly covetable line of accessories, I don’t think we’ll need to look much further than LMND for a wardrobe refresh. Shop LMND.
Tell us a little bit about LMND.
LMND – Lemonade is a brand born out of my need to go back to basics, with the notion that simple is just better. I wasn’t really looking to start a brand, but going back to what I love most – the world of product, branding and creating narrative – felt like the right next step. It was in January 2018 that I bumped into my friend Justin Levy (LMND’s co-founder) and we casually spoke about what we were doing and the idea of working together. By February, I was on a plane flying to Hong Kong to visit manufacturers! By September, we had our first store open in Gould Street, Bondi Beach. It’s been a whirlwind! And so LMND – Lemonade was born. A relaxed and fresh brand, that is optimistic and happy. That’s the feedback we continuously get from our customers.
You had an impressive career in fashion prior to launching your own business. Had the idea been brewing for some time?
I always had in my mind the need to create something with a great narrative the reflected not only the customer but also the team I like to work with. In my many years in the industry, I have met some incredible and talented people and we dreamt of creating a space and opportunity where we could collaborate with great minds to create a beautiful brand to deliver to our customers. I guess I always had a dream, but I never saw it as my brand, more something fluid that had multiple collaborators. This is a major reason why it’s never been important for me to have my name on the door.
What insights did you bring to LMND from Oroton, and what has been a completely new learning?
Oroton was the brand I worked for nine years, where I had incredible learnings. Of course, as GM & Creative Director of such a big brand, you are exposed to a 360 view of business and retail. I think the biggest lesson for me was the importance of team, how having a great team makes everything possible. Also – the importance of the customer. We were customer obsessed – we listened and we applied, and that is something I can now do at a more intimate level. I receive great notes from our LMND customers on their experiences, and I spend time in the store and love seeing how excited a customer gets when they purchase something they love at the right price. I also learnt the power of narrative – a good story is priceless only when it is authentic. It is this authenticity which resonates with customers. And last but not least, my forever love of accessories! Being an industrial designer and a fashion designer, accessories are my true passion and where everything started for me.
You’ve opened a retail space in what is an undoubtedly challenging time for bricks & mortar. How are you ensuring you remain relevant and beloved by your customers?
For me, the way brands engage with each and every one of their customers makes the in-store experience still extremely important. Founding a business with my partner Justin meant incredible experience in leasing and locations. He really leads the way. For us, opening our first store in Gould Street Bondi Beach was a no-brainer. I believe customers still want to touch and feel and get to know a brand through a store environment. It’s meaningful and allows the consumer the opportunity to understand a brand, especially a new one. We are excited to see so many local and international customers coming through the doors only to repeat purchases online and vice versa. To me, this is the perfect model and allows us to stay relevant and top of mind.
Tell us about your gorgeous accessories.
We love our accessories! They are easy to wear, fun, colourful and made with great quality and materials. Colour is a key signature of our brand. We make sure we garment dye all our pieces to get the right hue, and equally that all our prints and colours for leather accessories are dyed to match our palette. Accessories are really my comfort zone and definitely a place I will always go back to. We just launched our new signature shape which I’m obsessed with, It’s all about multi-use materials and lots of great details… I’m just in love.
You create such beautiful, wearable pieces. How do you go about the design process?
It’s actually simple… (Not really!). For us, detail is extremely important. Designers sometimes forget about the basics… Things like pockets, great fabrications and beautiful colours. The design process is so much more than putting a garment together. We spend time with our team to ensure customer feedback is considered, work with great factories and ultimately, create a wantable piece for every woman’s wardrobe. I truly believe having that clear intention has translated into products that fit many shapes, ages and customers. It’s just incredible to see the diverse customers we get in our store.
What inspires you?
Everything really. But colour is big for me. I start all my collections with a colour matrix. I’m not sure if this is my South American background coming through, but colour has always been a part of my method. Real life inspires me.
How would you describe your own style?
My style is very easy, casual and every day. I love a good pair of sneakers and really enjoy having some small timeless pieces. I’m obsessed with watches, sunnies and leather accessories. I own our Chiara Shirt in every single colour and I live in all of them.
What does a typical day look like for you now?
I go between phone calls, emails with suppliers, visiting our store and meeting with Justin to make sure we covering every detail of the brand. I drop off and pick up my son as much as I can. And I’m also working on some exciting new projects with great Australian retailers.
How does running your own business compare to corporate life? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
It’s early in the piece so all I can see are advantages. I love spending time with the team, having the time to stop and chat with incredible people about new ideas and seeing just the endless opportunities. I love been able to go into businesses and adding value from a consulting space, whilst also being able to tell my own story through Lemonade. Corporate life was fantastic, and I learnt so much about myself and what I’m passionate about which is equally as important. Of course, it’s challenging and I have days where I get a little overwhelmed, but you learn to manage your time and to be bold, you learn to just be yourself.
What has been the biggest highlight in the lifespan of LMND so far?
Wow, every step has been incredible. Opening the store was a massive highlight. But for me personally the conversations and notes we receive from customers where they refer to the brand exactly as it was intended has been such an achievement. Seeing customers not been able to decide what colour they love, so they just buy them all and most importantly coming back, because they love wearing them. That to me is a massive highlight.
What about the biggest challenges?
Challenges are always there in the retail space. You need to maintain a voice, and be on top of your stock, payments, financials – it’s all part of being a retailer and not a surprise to us. Definitely something I have dealt with throughout my career in the different scales of business I have worked for.
How do you approach the juggle of work/life/motherhood/career?
It’s quite seamless for me and I multitask. My husband is a huge support and I also have a great network and lovely friends. I can’t lie – I wasn’t great at it in the corporate world but now I definitely make sure I’m present and I appreciate every minute with my family. And a huge help, my son loves going into the store and saying hello!
How do you incorporate self care and time for you into your everyday?
The truth is I don’t get too much time for myself. Luckily in summer, I manage to go down for a swim at least once a week, and I do sneak in one or two Netflix sessions!
What’s next for you and for LMND?
There’s so much opportunity for us and we are so excited to see the brand grow. Being at the very beginning we’re constantly looking at new store locations, strengthening our online presence and driving relevance with our customers through beautiful, easy to wear product. We have a very optimistic and authentic story to tell and I can’t wait to see our brand talking to a bigger audience.