It takes vision and creative skill to see possibilities where others see rubbish, and entrepreneur Lizl Naude and her company Lilly Loompa has both attributes in large quantities. She is designing individual pieces of furniture and interior accessories that have a unique story to tell and celebrate the authenticity of the recycled material used.
LoA had the pleasure of meeting with founder Lizl Naude recently to hear more about her vision for her ‘green’ furniture design and manufacture
What does your company do?
Lilly Loompa creates beautiful and usable furniture pieces made with recycled material. Lilly Loompa's “Rubbish Range” is the result of a craving to deliver pieces that are completely "green". Where others see rubbish…we see possibilities. We focus on recounting a story through every bit of furniture we produce.
"Lilly Loompa was born about 12 years ago as a creative company focusing on jewellery design, then later interior design."
What inspired you to start your company?
Lilly Loompa was born about 12 years ago as a creative company focusing on jewellery design, then later interior design. The name in itself usually creates interest. When I was a child, my younger cousins could not pronounce my name, so they called me Lilly. At the time my favourite characters were the “Oompa Loompas” from the book and film “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” I decided to merge the two and Lilly Loompa was born. Lilly Loompa is a culmination of my history and she is an extension of me. Maybe she is my alter-ego. I started designing and making furniture roughly six years ago, mostly because I couldn’t afford to buy new pieces to furnish my home. Scouting and sourcing for budget material, I quickly realised that most people discard very usable materials. This led to me to self-building and designing beautiful furniture items that I love!
Why should anyone use your service or product?
I am in the business of restoration. Many of us have had an opportunity to reinvent ourselves because we were given a second chance. Just like each of us have a story to tell, these pieces speak of history. In a way they also need a second chance at life!
My work is unique. It is also considered art or my pieces as collector’s items. Our furniture is exclusive. The materials we use are all recycled, thus it cannot be guaranteed that the same piece of furniture will be made in the exact same way. This makes it a great product to buy. They make for great conversation starters as each piece has a story attached to it.
"Lilly Loompa is a culmination of my history and she is an extension of me. Maybe she is my alter-ego."
Tell us a little about your team
Besides being the Owner and Head Designer, I run the day-to-day operations of Lilly Loompa. My days are filled with creative stints, sales drives and strategic meetings. My husband, who is also my business partner, is involved in a strategic role. Besides that, I regularly make use of sub-contractors to assist in bringing my ideas to life. They include local carpenters, welders and general craftsman. The plan is to start employing people on a permanent basis in the next 12 months.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
I have always been creative and have experience in the event, jewellery, interiors, construction and furniture industries. However, I have not always been an entrepreneur. I worked in the corporate industry as a PA and later Events Manager. After a freak accident in 2004, I was bed-ridden for 6 weeks. Out of boredom I started making costume jewellery and Lilly Loompa was born. Over the years, Lilly Loompa ventured into the interior industry and later into the design sphere where she feels most at home. Although I never thought I would be an entrepreneur, I do realize my father had an impact on me as he has been self-employed ever since I can remember. The fact that I married an ambitious change-maker, catapulted me into the business arena, willingly or not! Today, as I look back, I wouldn’t change anything! I have gained so much experience as a result of my history as an entrepreneur.
"My work is unique. It is also considered art or my pieces as collector’s items. Lilly Loompa furniture is exclusive."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
Like any other entrepreneur, I have great plans for my business. I want to be known as a Designer with a Conscience. Deep down I know I am an Inventor as well. With this knowledge I want to design products that will assist in making people’s lives easier and better. I see Lilly Loompa building a global brand that is associated with trendy, but usable art and design. I want people to recognize it as a name they can trust. Immediate plans include establishing a footprint in the Western Cape in early 2017.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
As a creative I always felt like I was suffocating in the corporate rat race. I hated the routine and limitations of office hours! Although I have learned a tremendous amount in the corporate field, I love the freedom that comes with being an entrepreneur. It allows me to live out my dreams, even though I do not earn a corporate salary. It allows me to make a change in other people’s lives through the different programmes I am involved in. It also allows me to think without limitations. It allows me to create what I would otherwise have thought was impossible. Being an entrepreneur is the toughest challenge I have tackled. With no set working hours comes the need to set healthy boundaries. With no steady income, it forced me to scale down, from many unnecessary add-ons in my life. The entrepreneurial space craves creativity, fearlessness, hard work and dedication. I am ready!
"Like any other entrepreneur, I have great plans for my business. I want to be known as a Designer with a Conscience."
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
Creativity grows more when faced with adversity. Do not give up when faced with adversity. In my life those times have been my most productive and creative ever. Those unwanted times force you to think out-of-the-box. Those tough times require you to be present. Even though everything in you wants to exit and run…do not. Face it head-on! You can overcome and succeed!
Contact or follow Lilly Loompa
Why LoA loves it….
There is a growing interest in recycling in Africa, and products that have been designed using discarded and creatively reworked materials. This is an interested shared by the highly creative Lizl Naude, who is inspired to create beautiful and interesting furniture and interior accessories by the things consumers throw away. Her Lilly Loompa brand is a great example of what can be done with recycling to create a whole new approach to furniture design. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa