Meet LLoree Dickens (aka: LL) of LL Designs - Owner and Artist of one of the very few 100% Native made, handmade moccasin brands in the country. She is Arikara / Hidatsa and White Earth Chippewa from the Three Affiliated Tribes in North Dakota. Read about her tribe at www.MHANation.com. One visit to her website and you immediately feel the difference. You can tell you’re seeing authenticity, quality and culture in every pair of carefully crafted moccasin. She decided to start her brand after realizing that there are rarely Native made moccasin brands, and yet so many companies mass produce “Native-inspired” footwear and fashion all whilst making a huge profit off of the Native culture. She was on a mission to do something that aligned with her passion, and from that, LL Designs was born. I had the honor of a heartfelt conversation with LLoree and came away inspired on so many levels.
I am a Native American woman, artist and entrepreneur, and I hope I can inspire others that they too CAN be a Native entrepreneur and make a difference… and that’s what those of us creating these Native made products are doing, we are facilitating change. -LL
LLoree on the vision of LL Designs:
With an educational background in Psychology/Social Psychology; I decided to combine my knowledge, passion, and art into entrepreneurship. The whole vision of my brand is to offer an authentic, Native-made moccasin experience- with exceptional comfort and beauty for everyday (I guess you could also call them “Mocc-Shoes”). The construction method is traditional, yet made for modern comfort wear. My moccasin style is a combination of intricate vibrant beadwork, bold colors, and are Plains-style based…which is where I’m from. Each pair is handmade to order, and are pieces of art for those feet. I only use supple quality deerskin, elk, and/or buffalo leather.
On collaborations with other artists:
My goal is to continue creating a platform to collaborate with and promote other Native artists’ products. I currently have the pleasure to work with and feature a couple other female artists who are from Canada - First Nations and Cheyenne descent from Montana, and I love the different aspects each of our cultures adds to the collection and the webstore.
On her biggest business challenge:
Due to volume of demand, my biggest challenge is decreasing delivery timeframes. Since each pair of moccasins is handmade, there is a limit to how quickly we can produce without jeopardizing the quality and crafts(woman)ship. As demand continues to grow, we continue to sell our moccasins globally…it is refreshing to know that there is still a niche for quality, handmade products. It’s a good thing to know that people do value authenticity, especially in a world that is becoming so artificial.
On how she’s carving a space as a Native owned brand:
Cultural appropriation is very real for us, but honestly, I got tired of hearing about it and decided to do something about it, and do my part instead. So I decided to take action and start facilitating awareness and change. I am a Native American woman, artist and entrepreneur, and I hope I can inspire others that they too CAN be a Native entrepreneur and make a difference… and that’s what those of us creating these Native made products are doing, we are facilitating change. You just have to do it- pave the path. I’m trying to carve a space for authentic, native-made moccasins in the mainstream footwear industry. We can all do our part to educate.