It started with a juice stand in Palm Beach in the 1950’s and a young New York socialite named Lilly Pulitzer who designed a comfortable, sleeveless dress in bright printed cotton to hide the juice stains. What emerged is a lifestyle brand that now offers apparel for ladies, children, and men, ladies’ shoes and a complete home collection at 75 signature stores, numerous company-owned retail locations and major department stores worldwide. Though Lilly, the founder, is still alive and well today, Janie Schoenborn, (shown right) whose love affair with Lilly dresses started at a young age, now serves as design director for print and pattern, brand presentation, accessories and footwear, leading the creative and fashion direction of a brand designed to cater to the lifestyles of the affluent-at-ease. To that end, the Kenmark Group will launch the first ever Lilly Pulitzer optical collection at next month’s Vision Expo West.

1. What are the most important influences on your design work?

Lilly herself and the many devoted consumers we have. I think of the big tortoise glasses Lilly and her school friend Jackie-O made famous, and of the women who will pair our eyewear with their apparel, and wonder would this delight her?

2. What excites you most about design?

For most designers, the ideas and the creativity is within you, which is the case for me. At Lilly Pulitzer, I love getting her voice out there and making it stronger. It’s all about being comfortable in your own skin, being irreverent.

3. Describe the ultimate Lilly Pulitzer woman.

She is confident and loves color. She is independent and loves to stand out in her Lilly. She has style and is really chic. It’s the woman you want to sit next to at a dinner party.

4. What’s been the greatest challenge in interpreting the Lilly design perspective into an eyewear line?

We are a print and color driven brand which can be hard to translate to eyewear as it is literally sitting right on your face. So the challenge is how to make print eyewear wearable with print apparel. It is my job to make it wearable in any form and make sure the accessories compliment the apparel and lifestyle.

5. What are some of your favorite characteristics of the collection?

I love that our prints are identifiable from across the room and that we have found ways to incorporate them on both the inside and outside of our eyewear, as well as with the cast hardware.

6. What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Be yourself. It is the ultimate freedom, someone has to misbehave.