We Meet the Founder of ILNI

ILNI creator Carmela talks about her mindful fashion brand and its first beginnings.

 “Creating a mindful fashion brand was never a situation I thought I would find myself in! I was not interested in ethical fashion before, not until the idea of owning something made from an animal no longer fitted my outlook on life. I wanted to avoid buying leather items, but I could not find any faux leather alternatives that were both high quality and stylish.

I had recently decided to change my diet into a plant-based one, trying my best to avoid all animal products. I thought this lifestyle choice was important, not only for my health but as an ethical one as well. The next step came one weekend when I was out shopping for a new handbag. I had my eyes on this particular one for a long time and I knew I had to have it. There I was, standing at the checkout counter, cashier swiping my card and my new bag all wrapped up and ready to take home when I had a sudden feeling of guilt. What was I doing? I had bought something that wasn’t aligned with my lifestyle choices anymore.

The silver lining is that it sent me on a path of trying to find a suitable alternative to a leather bag. I searched high and low for high-quality, faux leather handbags, ones which suited my style. This is something I found way too much of a challenge! For several years this carried on until I had my eureka moment. What if I could make a handbag exactly how I wanted? One that was altogether high-quality, faux leather and pro-animal life. This was the beginning of ILNI, my mindful brand. The values of quality and kindness are now at the core of ILNI and every product we create.

My inspirations were, of course, my diet, mindfulness and my family. My grandmother’s vintage handbag was what I based the first ILNI handbag on. While visiting my mother, I saw my grandmother’s handbag and became awash with memories of her. When I picked it up, I could remember all the times I saw her using this bag for going to church every Sunday. To see it sitting there still in great shape after 40+ years was inspiring. I wanted to create something so well-crafted that it could last a lifetime.

And so, the Augustina bag was born and named after my dear Grandmother.

My final inspiration came from my children. The ILNI name is a union of the first two letters of my son’s name and the last two letters of my daughter’s name; IL and NI. This is an important symbol for the company and myself. Always treat my manufacturers, distributors and customers as I would my own family. Continue being mindful, thoughtful, compassionate and ready to listen.

“In a world where we can be anything, let’s be elegant and kind.”