An interview with accessory designer Elizabeth Hahn-Lawrence, founder of Just Liv
We all love accessories, but Just Liv is an Etsy shop that gives them a twist. Selling a huge range of handmade and recycled pieces, the shop is already turning heads. Founder and designer Elizabeth Hahn-Lawrence, 29, is based in Waterloo USA, and tells us about being thrown into the world of handcrafted fashion statements.
Where did you study and what did you get from the experience?
Elizabeth: I studied fashion design and advertising at Southern Illinois University. I had been sewing and designing since I was eight years old, because my mum is a seamstress.
When was your brand created, and what was the inspiration behind it?
I started Just Liv in 2007. I had been working in the corporate world of fashion for a few years, in product development and buying. But I was just meant to be my own boss! I quit my corporate job in 2008 to pursue Just Liv as my full-time career. It has been growing ever since!
Are the designs all your own or are there multiple designers? Do any designs come from outside of the brand?
All of the designs are my own, and I make them with my own two hands! I don’t get a lot of sleep, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
How do you personally feel about fashion, and how do you use it to express yourself?
I think that you have to be creative and wear what makes you feel good. I didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so that forced me to be more creative with my wardrobe. My style is always changing, but you can wear anything as long as you work it!
Which of your current designs is your favourite?
Gosh, my favourites are always changing, but I’ve been pretty obsessed with my flower Mohawk for a while!
What is your favourite era for design and why?
I love the 1910-1930s. Things were changing so much in society, and it’s amazing to see how fashion played a role in that. It proves that fashion is deeply rooted in history and the evolution of women’s standing in society.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
This past year, I partnered up with one of my best friends to open a boutique that carries only handmade and vintage items. It has been amazing!
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
I love being around creative and positive people. Patricia Field would be my dream collaborator.
Would you say your work is directed at a particular trend or group of people?
I know they say not to do this, but I definitely design for myself and those like me. Sweet with a little bit of edge.
What are a few of your likes and dislikes in terms of design and style aesthetic?
I’m not a huge fan of the androgynous look. I like there to be an element of femininity in what a woman wears. I also dislike it when you can tell that someone is trying too hard to get attention, and they don’t feel comfortable in what they are wearing.
What is your favourite thing about your job? Are there any negatives?
I absolutely love working for myself and making my own schedule. I can sleep until noon, snuggle with my cat for three hours and start working whenever I feel like it. There are times, of course, when I barely have time to breathe, but it’s all worth it just knowing that everything I earn is from my own blood, sweat and tears.
What made you decide to become a fashion designer?
I don’t think it was ever really a decision. It was just something that happened. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Have you any plans for the future? When can we expect your next collection and where do you hope to be in five years?
Right now, my time has definitely been split between my store and my Just Liv line. I’m always working on new designs, and have some great new products that will be ready in February.
I love your floppy felt hats. What got you into creating headwear?
I always have to have something on my head, whether it’s a headband, turban or hat. It’s literally the finishing touch to any outfit! I’d love to learn actual millinery techniques at some point in my life. Right now, though, I have to find ways to create the look I want with the skills that I already have. Also, I want to keep my products affordable. My felt hats are definitely that!
As you all know, bold headwear has been a big part of current trends. We love all the Just Liv pieces here at The Upcoming!
If you agree, visit Elizabeth’s gorgeous Etsy shop here. Be brave and give her stunning new collection a go!