Q + A with Tiger Lily Designer: Heather Gardner

In a world full of phonies, Heather Gardner is anything but. This lovely So Cal designer is the master mind behind the Tiger Lily jewelry collection.  Balancing life, a son and always staying true to herself- Heather is taking the necessary steps to rule the jewelry world! I had the pleasure of interviewing Heather in beautiful Malibu, California about the ins and outs of  her Tiger Lily collection.

1. When did you first become inspired to design your own jewelry collection?
I was a teacher before I designed jewelry. Ever since I was in High School I would design my own personal jewelry in bead stores or redesign pieces I’d purchase to make them my own. At a party in Spring 2006 my close friend, Jennifer Smith Hale (owner of C Magazine), said she loved the necklace I was wearing, I told her I made it and after talking she inspired me to put some real time and money into my craft and that lead to the start of my own line.

2. What was the biggest challenge you faced in starting your own jewelry line?
I run all parts of the company, everything from design sheets to meetings with buyers. It’s hard to let my reps take control of my designs. I also have a child so it’s balancing my business with being a mother. It’s like how do you do it all without doing it all?

3. What inspires you designs?
Everything from the colors and textures you see in the mountains on hikes or taking in the breathtaking scenery while driving along the coast of California. I find inspiration every day living by the ocean in Malibu.

4. How does it feel to see the hottest celebs wearing your designs?
It’s pretty great, I love it. Other people are more impressed with it than I am, really. It’s kind of surreal to see Vanessa Hudgens walking down the street in one of my pieces. But I still get excited to see everyday people walking around in my collections as well. I think for the fashion industry it’s important to have celebrities wearing your designs. I’m hoping Lauren Conrad will wear some of my pieces, she has some of my designs and I’d love to see her out and about in them soon. I value making every woman feel beautiful, whether they are well known or just a person in a small town that feels great wearing one of my pieces.



5. How do you react to the success of your line?
It’s pretty surreal. I’ll never forget going online with my brother and sister in-law and seeing the big Tiger Lily feature on Singer22 next to designers like Alice + Oilvia. To have your company in with a list of the top designers in fashion, it’s very surreal.

6. How would you describe your personal style?
Definitely, California-beach-boho-chic. I love going to thrift stores and mixing and matching my clothes and just wearing what makes me feel comfortable.

7. What are the top things (ideas, motifs, etc.) you always try to convey in your collection?
I think versatility is huge for my line and that’s why so many people love it. I like elegance and simplicity. I like my pieces to be something you can layer. You can buy 1 or 2 or 5 pieces and wear them separate or together. My Crystal Layer Necklaces can be worn long or doubled up and worn short. They can be elegant or bohemian; I wear one of my Crystal Layer Necklaces as a bracelet everyday. I like my collection to be something beyond the trends but still trendy. Something you can wear from season to season. I’m not a huge bright or primary color person. I tend to gravitate more toward gold and neutrals. I’m going to do a lot with Bronze, Coppers and Rose Gold this season.

8. Which designers or fashion icons inspire you the most?
That’s a hard one. I love Fendi, every time I see their stuff I feel inspired it’s edgy, it’s hot, it’s super chic. Fendi also has this natural element they do that I really like. I also love Twelfth Street by Cynthia Vincent. I have a dress from her collection from 6 years ago that I still wear. Another designer you carry that I love is, Jen’s Pirate Booty. I’m actually wearing one of her designs today.

9. What signature items do you think people should have in their wardrobe?
I have two. The Tiger Lily Crystal Layer Necklace for sure- those are my basics. You can really incorporate these necklaces into what you have in your wardrobe already. I wear my necklace with a bikini and a skirt to the beach and I can also dress it up at night. And then the Bohemian Layers, everyone loves those. The boho thing is big now and I think it will go for a long time.

10. In you opinion, what fashion trends will be big for Spring 2011?
I definitely think bright and vibrant colors will be big for fashion. I will be doing the Bronzy, Copper, sun tanned look with my collections. I’d like to do my Black Diamond Crystal Layer Necklace with the real earthy rich colors. I think for jewelry Gold will be big, especially Rose Gold- which is a long time coming. I really like Copper and Brass or the Rose Gold and Gold together. I think for jewelry too, I’m sensing crosses will be big. I’m going to be doing some rosary inspired pieces and basic crosses for my line.

11. 10% of the profit from your jewelry collection goes to humanitarian efforts. What inspired you to make this contribution?
I’ve been raised from a Christian background and my family was always giving. I think American culture is full of a lot of people who are motivated to give when something happens. My whole life I’ve been giving some of my earnings to causes. One of my favorite organizations is World Vision. With World Vision, you can give money that goes toward or pays for anti-Malaria mosquito nets, giving people business loans, kits for doctors or even buying books for kids. You can donate to American or National efforts, which is great. Surfrider is another organization I really love. They do a lot with surfers who go out to islands and help bring anti-Malaria mosquito nets to kids, which really aids in the fight against Malaria.

12. Describe Tiger Lily in one sentence.
Well my motto statement is: “Combining nature’s elements into a trend setting composition”.
This means taking the natural elements that I’m inspired by and then making them into something that people want to wear and that people are drawn to.

Check out Singer22′s collection of Tiger Lily jewelry here!

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