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Leila Arakji

Female Founder Spotlight: Leila Arakji

6 March 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder

IWD Inspirational Female Founders Spotlight: Leila Arakji
IWD Inspirational Female Founders Spotlight: Leila Arakji

Leila Arakji (38) is an award-winning creative entrepreneur based in West London. She currently runs two small businesses. Her ethical jewellery brand, Lilac Tree, which she set up in 2017, focuses on planet-kind practices and processes to create contemporary heirlooms that women can be proud to wear. Her self-care gift box business, Lilac Roots, which she started with her best friend in 2019, supports fellow female artisans based in the UK. In January 2021, Leila was named one of the UK’s 100 most inspiring female entrepreneurs as part of Entrepreneur’s #ialso100 campaign. 

What would you love to share to encourage other women to start their own business?

According to recent research, only 32% of UK entrepreneurs are women. That’s a lot of untapped potential! If you want to pursue your passion, build flexibility into your working life, and create a working environment that is reflective of your own values and ethics, then running your own business could be the way forward. The good news is that you already have the skills to run your own business! Here are a few things to think about: What is it that you’re passionate about? What are you an expert in (or want to become an expert in)? What transferable skills can you bring to your new business? 

There are role models everywhere, and in my experience most women in business are only too happy to help others just starting out. What are you waiting for, just go for it!

What are your top 5 tips for entrepreneurial success?

1. There’s never a good time to start, so you may as well just do it now! I put off setting up my jewellery business for two years because I didn’t think my skills were good enough. And guess what? Imposter syndrome is real! I STILL don’t feel good enough, sometimes! If I had waited until I felt good enough, I wouldn’t have ANY business right now, let alone two!

2. Don’t try to do everything yourself. We can’t all be experts at everything! While I take some photos of my jewellery myself, photography is definitely not my strong suit and so I outsource model and clean product shots to amazing photographers who are experts in their field.

3. Take a break! It’s so easy to spend every waking minute working on something you’re passionate about, but taking breaks will actually help your productivity and creativity. Lately, I’ve been making Sundays sacrosanct, where I take a day away from social media, emails and my studio. It’s helped me no end.

4. Build a community and be a role model yourself. Connecting to other entrepreneurs, especially now, is so important. It’s also a big part of my own personal values – setting up Lilac Roots, we wanted to be a champion for for small female-led businesses. So much so, we don’t call them our “suppliers” but our our partners. They’re part of our family!

5. Be true to you. That passion you have? Stay connected to it. It will come through like a beacon of light in everything you do, and your authenticity will attract customers, followers and supporters in abundance.

IWD Inspirational Female Founders Spotlight: Leila Arakji
IWD Inspirational Female Founders Spotlight: Leila Arakji

Who are the 5 women who inspire you the most?

1. My mum – she raised three small kids as a single mother while working two or three jobs at a time. She taught me the importance of hard work and perseverance from a young age, lessons I’ve never forgotten.

2. My Lilac Roots business partner, Elle Wanless, who also runs a tea business, Mindful Roots. Watching her confidence grow over the past two years has been really inspiring, and she is such an expert in her field.

3. Frida Kahlo – A rebel, a revolutionary, a survivor, an outsider. Overlooked and under-estimated while she was alive. Unapologetic in art, and in life. A woman of extremes, who lived and worked with passion in her heart every day, even when the odds were against her. 

4. Stormé DeLarverie, the woman who is said to have thrown the first punch at Stonewall. A quiet pioneer for lesbian and LGBT+ rights, who has inspired me to stand up for what I believe in, in life and in business.

5. Serena Williams – as a huge tennis fan, I’m constantly inspired by how she battled against the odds to become the greatest of all time in her sport. She’s also an incredible businesswoman and mother- a triple threat!

What is your favourite inspirational quote?

“I am my own muse” – Frida Kahlo. An expression of how her art didn’t fit into any neat, patriarchal boxes in a male-dominated world. Words to live by, that I try to embody in my creative practice too.

Website & Socials


 @lilactreemakes on Instagram


@lilacrootsldn on Instagram