Home > Japanique Boutique > Artisan Profiles > Lilli Makinson


ETSY Shop: www.etsy.com/shop/lillimakinson

Lilli, tell us your story!

I have been a collector all my life. I grew up in Kobe, Japan and am half Japanese and half Swiss. After the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1996, my husband and I moved to Shanghai to start all over again. We started a jewelry business and also established factories for jewelry and for making crafts and silk products. I was designing most items, but the copying (by other jewelry-makers) was insane and that is when I decided to buy my beloved Japanese obi and kimono from Japan to use part of these, so that copying would not be possible. It was a great combination: Japanese kimono and obi with Chinese silks. The unravelling and getting the kimonos pressed were all done in the factory, which was wonderful . We carried on for over 16 years and when my husband was taken ill we decided to hand over the business to my manager. He wasn’t able to continue the factory and when I decided to come to Switzerland I brought all my kimono, obis, and Chinese antique embroideries and that was the beginning of selling now on Etsy.

During this corona virus lockdown, I looked at all the beautiful things I had and decided to make silk scarves. It has proven to be a great idea - I am now making scarves and also have a lot of jewelry spare parts (gems and power stones) which I also need to use. I am a one-woman-show and I only produce things I like and want myself. Somebody will like it? - I am positive so no longer, so I am not making what will sell but what I just love to make.

It was easier when I could just design and somebody else in the factory would make it, so its challenging doing everything myself. Sewing the combination of vintage and antique silks is a challenge at times but I know I am sewing a piece of history, so I just get so much pleasure out of it. All the wonderful comments I get from the people who have purchased my scarves and crafts just brightens up my day.

I am now retired here in Switzerland but of course spend a lot of time in Japan. I started out two decades ago setting up a Holistic Center in Shanghai called Frank’nSense as I am also a Reiki Master Teacher, Spirit Release Practitioner and involved in various other types of spiritual healing. In Japan they have practiced Color Healing since the Heian Period - the various colors and combinations of kimono document this. Different colors and combinations for different seasons, illnesses and on and on I often use this method for my creations when I combine silk and stones.

My life is far from over but I believe I have seen the best of Japan from the age of 3 onwards. My kimono belonged to my great grandmother, my grandmother, my mother, my own and to two of my girls when they were little. I also have kimono from auctions. I haven’t even gotten to my obi or Chinese embroidery collection yet... that comes later!

ere are more of Lilli's creations: