Q&A With Lately Lily

We have been so excited about our recent collaboration of gift sets with the Southern California brand Lately Lily that we wanted to share a little more about them with you all. And just who is Lately Lilly? Lately Lily is collaboration between author/illustrator Micah Player and Apparel Designer Erin Nichols. Each season follows our character Lily, the curious daughter of a photographer and writer, as she travels the world with them in the company of her best friend, Zeborah.

We recently sat down with Micah and Erin from Lately Lily for a little Q & A.


Nod: Where did the name Lately Lily and Elliot Shoal come from? 

Micah: When we first started talking about making a tee line, we would have these long brainstorming sessions. Who is this girl? Why is she always on the go? How would she keep in touch with family and friends? Right away we decided to name the brand after some kind of newsletter that she would write and put her in a "reporter" kind of role. That led to a really bad early name called "Hayley Daily" which was a placeholder for a few days. Our meetings were usually at Erin's office in Huntington Beach. I live in Costa Mesa, and would think about stuff on the short drive home. In this part of Orange County the cities are all tangled together… You can get almost anywhere on backstreets. One street, in particular, is something of a magic bridge between her office and my house, so I would go up and down this street almost every time we got together. Anyway, there is a sign on the "magic bridge" that reads "Lily's" and one day it caught my eye while I was thinking of names. We loved the idea of referring to Lily's adventures as what she was doing, "Lately". It had a great, newsroom-y vibe… "Lately, Lily is in the Andes!" So, her newsletter was renamed Lately Lily and so were we.

Elliot is more sentimental. The character has been dancing around my sketchbook for years. Elliot is my wife's maiden name and at the time I originally conceived the idea of this kid on a red boat roaming this giant sea, my son had a very close friend named Elliot. Using his friends name was a way to get him to listen to the stories I would tell him at night. Shoal means "Sandbar" and in Elliot's world nautical terms are common surnames. 

Nod:  Looks like a Lily has a new friend these days? Who is Elliot? 

Mica: Elliot is a boy who is exploring an endless ocean with 10EC (Tennessee) his clockwork navigator and best friend. He is brave, resourceful, and looking for something very special. 

Nod: How did you and The Land of Nod start working together? 

Erin: I have always loved The Land of Nod, so one day we sent a hand painted Sunny Yellow Suitcase filled with our tees and a little note hoping to get someone’s attention. That someone turned out to be the fabulous Lauren Baker, who we now have a total crush on. :)


Nod: Is there a story behind the prints of both the Lately Lily and Elliot Shoal Gift Set? 

Micah: Yes! Both of the stories are about friendship. Lily was born in Paris, while her parents were there on assignment. It holds a very special place for her. So, every year on Lily's birthday, no matter where they are in the world, Zeborah puts together a simple "Paris Picnic" for his friend. In this set, Lily is thinking about what a good friend Zeborah has always been to her. Sitting below the Eiffel tower, actually in Paris on her birthday, with her very best friend, it occurs to Lily that the best part of her "Paris Picnic" has always been the excellent company.


Elliot and 10EC are playing Marco Polo on a lovely afternoon a few days out to Sea. Elliot had grown up as an orphan, working in a Sardine Cannery with a terrible blowhard for a boss! He never really had anyone to count on and just worked all day choking on steam and dreaming of getting away into the wide open air. 10EC arrived one night, tapped on his window and delivered a map to a hidden cave with a marvelous red boat. There, among the bobbing Lily-Kelp pads, above a teeming forest of underwater trees, eyes shut tight, with his robot friend beeping signals as he responds "Polo!"… Elliot Shoal does his very best not to laugh. Which is tough to do when you've never been so happy in your whole life!


Nod: What got you interested in designing kids’ apparel? 

Erin: I had worked as a buyer and Merchandiser for about 11 years before starting LL and kids clothing was always one of my favorite things to work with. After I had my first daughter, I really got the bug to get back into the kids space, so Micah and I got together and started brainstorming idea's on creating story based apparel, specifically little girls tee shirts. I had noticed a lack of well designed tees for little girls and I thought this would be a great category to start with.

Micah: It’s so fun! Make-believe and story, playing with color and pattern. Kids are honest, and so is good design. Writing, drawing and designing for kids is a natural place for designers that want to examine what moves them on a totally sincere level. Lily is a joy. She wants to understand everything and turn over every rock, go down every street. It’s a great head space to spend your day with. Elliot is exploring a make believe sea. Everything is new, pure imagination. It’s engaging on so many levels. When something is right, it’s like we're having a conversation with our grade school selves. It’s rejuvenating and a very particular sort of introspection. 

Nod: Why is the Lately Lily gift sets the perfect gift in your opinion? (Other than the fact that they’re awesome, sold at The Land of Nod and you made them?) 

Micah: Lily and Elliot are the perfect friends for a little lady or fella! I think the whole concept of Lately Lily celebrates kids. We LOVE the possibilities of open, inquisitive, brave, curious kids. For us, the opportunity to do infant clothes was a chance to high five the awesome kids of our amazing friends at birth. To wish them the absolute best of adventures. One of my favorite lines lately is a little piece from the first track of Star's newest album where they say "Don't be scared, they will do things we never dared". It always makes me think of my kids. So much to look forward to. 

Nod: What is your favorite product from The Land of Nod (other than Lately Lily gift sets)? 

Erin: Anything by Michelle Romo! Love her. We also have a big crush on that Modern Doll House. 

Nod: Where do you get your design inspiration from? 

Erin: Everywhere! Books, magazines, art, fabric, flea markets, people watching, world culture, pinterest…  the list could go on forever!  

Micah: Vintage picture books, daydreams and the eternal pursuit of trying to satisfy my own impossible expectations.

Stop by our South Coast Plaza store Saturday, September 21 and celebrate a day in honor of our friends at Lately Lily. Not only will there be tons of activities for you and the little ones, but you’ll also receive 10% OFF your in-store purchase just for attending. Plus, come by the store any day before the event and grab one of 50 VIP tickets. Bring it to the event and you’ll receive a special gift. This free event takes place from 1 p.m. till 4 p.m. but space is limited, so RSVP now to nodevents@landofnod.com