I first met the talented mama and artist Lisa Soltis of LAS collective at our Fashion Mamas pop-up shop in LA and fell in love with her unique hand screened denim jackets and tees. We love Lisa's dedication to vintage and how she is able to turn a previously loved piece into a wearable piece of art. It only made sense for us to collaborate on a collection for Noble Carriage and introduce you all to the beautiful mama behind this sustainable label, Lisa Soltis.
1. Tell us a little bit more about you and your background. How did you get your start in fashion? What are some of the steps that lead you to where you are today?
I’ve had my hands in art since I was a little lady, took art classes at the museum, did whatever I could at home and at school, eventually entering the fine arts program at my university and received a Bachelor’s degree in drawing. Yes drawing, I know. People always give me a confused look when I name my degree, but I turned it into careers as a muralist, a textile designer, and now I’m mostly working for myself, although I do take on freelance.
2. Now tell us all about LAS collective--where was the idea for LAS collective formed and how has it evolved from jewelry to reclaimed and vintage hand-screened tees?
My husband (who is a sculptor) and I have been collaborating on jewelry since 2008, where I would design the piece and he would do the wax model carving, but about a year ago I decided to branch out of that role and do more of what I really love to do- and that’s draw. We still create our jewelry and have everything cast in LA, but we thought that extending our product line would really round out our collection and provide a better example of both of our passions, the 3-D, and the 2-D art.
We also both love to understand the art and craft of a process- both have taken jewelry classes on soldering and casting, and currently, we’ve gone through teaching ourselves how to burn screens and hand screen our garments. We just love to learn and create and I believe that will never stop.
3. From jewelry made from recycled materials to giving new life to vintage tees, it is obvious that a lot of thought and time goes into the materials you source. Can you tell us more about your passion for vintage and handmade and what sustainable fashion means to you?
Yes absolutely- it is something I’ve been into since elementary school, recycling and thrifting before everyone else did, mostly out of necessity, but I’m grateful for that because it enabled me to be creative with my fashion choices and see a new life in a discarded garment.
Currently, sustainable fashion means ethical fashion- leaving the least amount of destruction in its wake as possible- this in regards to the environment, the people who come in contact with the materials of the garment, how fast and how cheaply it’s made, and where it comes from.
I can truthfully say my family wears about 80% previously used/repurposed garments.
4. How did the birth of both of your boys affect your work, if at all?
Being a mama has been the most rewarding yet selfless thing - there is a mountain of creative problem solving you have to do as a parent each day and to find the time and head space to create your own work is definitely challenging. However, I make sure I carry around my sketchbook at all times. I have an extremely supportive husband who encourages me to travel and to obtain inspiration and a clear mind from adventuring, and those are wonderful and much-needed breaks from mamahood. My boys are incredible and strange little beings and they inspire me daily to keep those whimsical and (a little bit) creepy elements to my work.
4. You run LAS collective from your home and your husband travels a ton for work, filming big feature films (like Star Trek & Hunger Games!) How are you able to balance your work with raising your boys? Do you have dedicated time to sculpt or screen print tees? Do you have help to watch the boys while you work? How do you juggle it all?
When he travels it’s a big adjustment, because he’s also home a lot which is amazing. It’s an all or nothing kind of a deal. We have attempted to go with him on jobs before, but now with school happening, things will get interesting and I’m not sure how to navigate that just yet.
I used to work on my toddler’s nap times, but those are getting shorter and less predictable. But I have always done some work in front of both boys and I believe that’s important. They are getting to the point that they know what I’m doing and not only accept it but are starting to develop an interest.
I do still attempt to make a schedule for myself- both my husband and I have clipboards with to-do lists ha! But I have to remain flexible with these little guys and not get too discouraged when all I wanted to accomplish remains unfinished.
The best thing to do is to try - and I make sure I get at least one solid thing done every day.
And when the family is available to watch them, they do, and that helps immensely.
5. Daily uniform? Is it all vintage? Where do you shop for yourself?
I mostly thrift locally and vintage shop when I visit LA. Mostly it’s a vintage raglan shirt or something I’ve screened, vintage denim, and boots.
6. You and your husband are both artists. Are your boys into art? Are you doing anything, in particular, to encourage them to appreciate the arts?
Our littlest guy is very into art- so into art that he has not only painted his canvases I just bought him but painted his table, his dino figures, the floor, his face, his clothes, and ran crayons up the door frame. I guess it’s my fault for leaving out paint.
Our 6-year-old is more of an engineer. He enjoys building things out of mainly Legos, but it could be anything. His creations have specific functions, names, and back stories.
We try to provide an array of toys and supplies so they feel free to experiment. And we limit screen time and tv, play lots of vinyl, and if they’re “bored,” we are quick to tell them to go find something to do lol.
We do frequent the museum a lot as a family and sign them up for creative classes when possible.
7. Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations and artwork?
Old science and art books, gothic tapestries, the 60s and 70s, my parents, museums, skate culture, outdoors, architecture, New York, and all over LA.
8. Do you have a strong support system close to home? How do you stay inspired as a working artist and mom?
I am fortunate to have my parents around town, but we had to move out of LA for that to be a reality. My husbands family is two hours away, and we have several wonderful friends around as well.
I visit our art museum frequently- the art library is my absolute favorite place around town because it houses giant antique books from around the world on all topics of painting, sculpture, design, typography, etc.
Also frequented are my favorite coffee shops. The same people always tend to be there and it’s nice to chat and bounce ideas off one another.
I take the boys outside for walks in the woods and also to the zoo which is down the street, and the museum. They’ve really come to love it and know it well.
9. Any advice for a mom who is trying to balance her passion for working with her desire to be the best mom ever? I know it often feels like you have to choose one or the other? Any advice?
I like to read mama responses to questions like this one, so I hope I can inspire some women here! The thing is, you can do both, but there ARE seasons. Meaning, it really doesn’t happen all at the same time.
Upon having my first son, one of my best friends told me, “you know, anything you get done outside caring for him right now, is a bonus, don’t be too hard on yourself.” And that was when I was shoving his crib in the corner of my little studio room ha! I thought, he’ll just take up a corner and I’ll have the rest for my studio.
But I kept going and kept working in the quiet times and when he slept.
6 years later he’s a kindergartener and our second little one is almost 3.
Of course, everyone’s definition of being the best mom ever is different too- my personal definition is never completely stopping what is a giant part of me, and that part is someone who creates. To keep working in front of my kids, showing them the value of work and teaching them the intense importance of occupying themselves, only makes them stronger, focused, and creative in whatever they choose to pursue.