Conversations with Designers, Little Style

DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT :: A Conversation with The Little Hummingbird

It’s been a while since we had a Designer Spotlight on Oaxacaborn! The conversations in this series are intended to inspire and encourage, and allow all of us to glean a little wisdom from fellow creatives and small businesses owners.

Today, I’m chatting with Olivia Lin and Archna Patel, who together run the childrenswear brand the little hummingbird.

sophie hoodie in pink by the little hummingbird as seen on oaxacaborn's interview with the little hummingbird
mae top, brooklyn pant by the little hummingbird as seen in an interview with designer Olivia Lin on Oaxacaborn

Walk me through your creative process — I guess you could call this the “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” question. Do you have a finished product in mind from the start, and then execute a series of steps to achieve this? Or do the ideas evolve and take life as you go through the creative process?
We think it can be a little bit of both!

Sometimes we have a finished product in mind; our poncho from the Fall ’12 collection and the pointelle cardigan from Spring ’13 are both examples of this. Other times, it is an evolution of ideas starting with a piece of trim, style detail, or theme we both like and are inspired by. Because we are a duo, we communicate and bounce ideas off of one another a lot, and try to make sure we are merging and using ideas each of us has.

When it is an evolution, it is definitely exciting seeing an idea come to life! (I think that is how we feel each time we complete a photoshoot and see a collection come to fruition!) For our current Spring ’13 line, we knew we wanted to incorporate pintucks into our designs but didn’t have the finished product in mind yet. We started by sketching as many different ideas as possible– which is the fun creative part! From there, we edit, share our sketches with each other, edit some more, then we finalize which styles we should go forward with and have in our collection.

stella dress by the little hummingbird as seen on oaxacaborn's interview with the little hummingbird's designer

At one time or another, all creatives experience that “hitting a brick wall” feeling, where the ideas just stop. How do you deal with creative slumps and roadblocks?
We hate it when that happens! We deal with it by taking a break and focusing on doing something else such as reading, baking, or cooking. Putting some music on and surfing the web or flipping through magazines — we both are inspired by clothing for women — can give us a fresh perspective as well. Another thing we like to do is look back at old photos of ourselves and siblings when we were kids, and modernizing the pieces we used to wear.

hazel sweater, ava top by the little hummingbird as seen on oaxacaborn's interview with the little hummingbird's designer

So is it safe to say you’re more influenced by the idea of reinterpreting vintage rather than keeping up with latest trends?
One of the things we wanted to do when creating the little hummingbird line was to create pieces that are timeless and can be passed down through the generations. We don’t really follow trends– we try to stick to the beat of our own drum and be true to our style and design aesthetics.

ida top, kaity skirt by the little hummingbird as seen on oaxacaborn's interview with the little hummingbird

From a business perspective, what does collaboration look like for The Little Hummingbird? How do you decide which roles each of you takes on?
We both do a little bit of everything for the little hummingbird and try to make sure we are being fair and the workload is equal. The way we decide which roles we each take on is a combination of a few things. Which method is the most efficient? Is one of us is more skilled in that area? What’s the timing and priority? Who is available? And sometimes it just comes to logistics, like which one of us has a shorter drive to save time and gas! I think the big key to our collaboration is honesty and lots of communication. You should see how many emails and texts we exchange in a day!

amelia dress by the little hummingbird as seen on oaxacaborn's interview with the little hummingbird
What is the most challenging thing you have faced in your creative career?
The most challenging things we have faced have been the funding as well as marketing — getting the little hummingbird to a place where it is a known and trusted brand.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to fellow creatives?
We would say to give your dreams and goals a chance, follow through, and don’t give up! It is not easy and you have to be able to handle rejection, but believe in yourself! Be fearless, open to making mistakes and learning — ask questions and try to stay organized and remember to have fun and enjoy the journey :)

Thank you so much, Olivia and Archna!

The Little Hummingbird | on Twitter | on Facebook | on Pinterest

Previously on Designer Spotlight: