“When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.” -Chinese Proverb
By Carrie Gress
A fun new source for children’s clothing with a Catholic twist is now available online. Lilies + Loaves makes clothing that tell a story visually about the lives of the saints and Marian apparitions. Made for infants to age five, the garments are made by local seamstresses in Philadelphia.
The company is the group effort of three dear friends, Letty Boelte, Emily Malloy, and Bridget Stec. I caught up with Emily Malloy, the director of marketing at Lilies + Loaves, to find out more about what inspires them.
GRESS: Tell me about the inspiration behind Lilies + Loaves?
MALLOY: Even though all three of us have varying backgrounds, we all have a passion for beauty, design, and our shared faith. We wanted to bring them all together in a meaningful way and creating children’s goods seemed to be the most natural, easy fit.
Letty’s background is in children’s mental health, Bridget’s is in graphic design, and mine (Emily) is in floral design and writing. Somehow God has worked through all of our journeys to bring us all here— together— utilizing our talents to serve his kingdom.
As for the name, we recognized that human beings are created with at least two innate desires: one for beauty, the other for sustenance. Without sustenance, we perish. Without beauty, we cease to be human. Our longing for beauty and sustenance is only satisfied by our Creator. The name “Lilies + Loaves” is an illustration of our basic human needs and the One who satiates them.
After naming ourselves Lilies + Loaves, confirmation came when we remembered an ancient Chinese proverb: “When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.”
GRESS: How is it that you come up with the designs?
MALLOY: There is a running idea board currently going consisting of surface patterns or garment silhouettes. We’ll often brainstorm, or mostly the Holy Spirit nudges, and then we discuss and make the decision as to which idea to explore and when the right time might be. Bridget helps them come to life in a pencil or pen sketch. After this, we’ll decide the placement of each drawn item in a pattern, and finally, choose between different colorways to determine the final design.
GRESS: How is your production done? By you all or is it outsourced?
MALLOY: We hire a handful of makers to stitch our garments and dolls. They’re spread throughout the Philadelphia area. This brings us such joy— to bring work to women who want to make a living creating clothes. We have also expanded into screen printing and this is also done here in Philadelphia. We love to keep it local. We live here! We want to support the makers who live here too.
GRESS: Have there been surprises with your best sellers?
MALLOY: YES! We cannot get over the popularity of our sweet dolls! They were born from an idea of “wouldn’t it be a sweet notion to snuggle with a story?!” But, we didn’t anticipate that we would completely struggle to keep them in inventory!! We’re so excited to be expanding our doll offerings in 2019.
GRESS: Do you expect to expand your product line for children? Anything in the works for adults?
MALLOY: Our initial goal was to expand into home goods, but we are still discerning which ideas to run with, keeping in mind market needs and offerings. We definitely get a TON OF REQUESTS for adult clothing, which is also a dream expansion! Either way, whichever way we expand, we really are relying on God to lead the way. When he leads, the results exceed our expectations.
GRESS: Where can people buy your products?
MALLOY: Through our website at www.liliesandloaves.com. We also hope to make appearances throughout the year as a vendor at different events, so stay tuned for those announcements!