Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jan Mirkin-Earley, Founder and Designer of Lily Koi Saigon, located in Austin, TX, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Lily Koi is a unique line of handmade and hand-dyed textiles, upholstery, and furniture inspired by the vivid colors and fabrics of the indigenous hill tribe people of SE Asia. Our vintage and handmade pillows and textiles are re-orderable; however, fabric patterns and shades of color could vary, as each piece is one of a kind. Lily Koi Saigon's designs are sold in the finest textile stores and collected by interior designers around the world. We also sell directly to the consumer.

Tell us about yourself

In 2014 I moved to Saigon, Vietnam, with my husband, Palmer Earley, and began working as a brand manager and marketing lead for Nellcote Studios, a decorative lighting design firm we launched together. Today Nellcote Studio is a coveted brand in the home decor industry worldwide. During this time, I also began exploring the Vietnam Hill Tribes and found a passion for vintage textiles, and founded Lily Koi Saigon. We are committed to empowering the women of the ethnic groups through fair trade and cultural exchange. After many years in the home décor business, we feel very blessed to do what we love with amazing craftsmen and the beautiful people we love.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

When you do what you love, it doesn't feel like work. I think my biggest accomplishment is that I have lived by this rule my whole professional life, and I continue to do so today.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

The most challenging thing, but also the biggest blessing, is it all begins and ends with you. You must do the work, take risks to grow, and reevaluate when things need to be adjusted.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Do what you love.
  2. Make a plan, define the steps that need to happen, and visualize what success looks like.
  3. Do the work.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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