Lillian Daniels and I connected to talk about founding her company, The Bali Bead. Coming from a corporate career, she made the move to become certified to teach yoga and spent time traveling in Bali where happenstance would have it that she saw opportunity in the traditional recycled glass, hand made necklaces prevalent around the island. Inspired by the fashion piece and clean, fair production cycle, she founded The Bali Bead to bring these necklaces to the States. Thanks, Lillian!

Lillian, it’s great to connect with you. Let’s start with a bit about your background: where are you from, where are you located right now? What’s an important detail we should know about you?

I’m from Syracuse NY and now live in Brooklyn, NY. Something interesting to know, which will tie into the rest of my current story is that we didn’t have a TV growing up, so I spent my childhood entertaining myself from a “Yoga for Kids” book, and cooking vegan and vegetarian dishes. I was featured in my local paper at age 12, and always had a high priority on health.

You mentioned that you had been working in a corporate environment before completely changing courses. Can you speak to your corporate past?

Yes! So, I graduated with my MBA, moved to NYC and was focused on growing as an Accountant. I worked at one of the big 4 firms, as well as in the supply chain space of a major CPG company. I started in Accounting for job security, and felt it was important to understand the language of business if I chose to pursue a different path.

What drove you to go to Thailand for a yoga teacher training?

2015 was really the year of "Bet on Myself."

I chose to leave my job because I had started creating a dream list, and both traveling to Thailand and becoming certified in yoga were on my list. I’d been practicing yoga for 28 years (hence doing yoga as a child with no TV) and I wanted to get to the root of the practice, to contribute to my longevity as well as to help others demystify the practice.

This was a time where I could afford to take a little risk and explore.

The Original Bali Bead necklace in Red worn by founder, Lillian Daniels, during her first time in Bali. This is the necklace that inspired the creation of the Original Line.

How did you choose your teaching training program? Any advice for those looking into teacher training?

I sought out the World Yoga Alliance Thailand, as it’s a world certified teacher training and recognized anywhere.

As per advice, here’s my cheat sheet:

  1. Be kind to yourself.
  2. Continue to read and study after training.
  3. I would highly recommend WYA in Chiang Rai, Thailand as the teacher there has built his own ashram and is quite dedicated.

You also mentioned that before you got to Thailand, you stopped in Bali, where something magical happened because now you have founded, The Bali Bead… tell us the story!

Absolutely. This was my first solo international trip and I wanted to be with myself and see beautiful and incredible nature, so I went to Bali en route to Thailand.

I think the magical part was really combining what I felt there in terms of peace and authenticity compared to the lifestyle in NYC, which can be so fast paced, where you don’t get the luxury of reflecting. I founded The Bali Bead for consumers to feel confident, to have a health conscious option to purchase, and who want a convenient statement necklace.

What drew you to this style of jewelry in Bali?

Bali is breathtaking, colorful and gorgeous, and that is directly seen in their jewelry. That is what I am overjoyed to share, the vibrant colors designed with functionality to be integrated into their daily lives.

I love the brand, Dange Dover. They make bags that are dedicated to quality and functionality. I love pieces that can go with everything and are beautifully styled.

How did you go from a visitor, appreciating the jewelry, to learning about the process and making something out of it?

During the second trip there, when I had already decided that I’d like to bring The Bali Bead to other women, I had the opportunity to learn more about the entire process.

The beads are made from recycled glass and are naturally dyed into 10 colors. The glass and natural dye helps with longevity and quality of the colors. Additionally each necklace is made by hand with minimal use of machines.

Lillian Daniels, climbing Mount Batur in Bali, Indonesia in her Orange Original necklace. Diverse use case!

Ok, so you fell in love with these necklaces, went to Thailand, and came back to NYC. How did you go from idea to The Bali Bead?

Yes, so I came back to NYC in 2015 and had to give this panel discussion where I wrote what is now called "The Original in Red" necklace. I realized in reflecting on what I wore that night is that, the necklace looked great during the panel in a business casual outfit, and I wore the necklace multiple times a week thinking "This makes looking great and being myself all at the same time, so much easier."

The love grew from there, the positive response from other people, as well as the importance of ethical trade and creation, created an essential cross road into doing something more with the necklaces.

I see that you were back in Bali just last year, how did your return help you connect even more with the community there and strengthen your brand?

I returned to Bali with the intention to bring back necklaces from Bali to build the core of The Bali Bead.

I learned a ton more about the recycled glass that goes into the beads. Being there cemented my goals that I had to share it with more people. It doesn’t only add to the women who purchase and wear it, but it also allows me to contribute to the economics of women in Bali in a way that is meaningful to them.

The necklaces are beautiful, they are created without toxins (a lot of fashion necklaces are often sprayed with chemicals), and it creates a positive impact.

So, how’s it going? What has been the most challenging and rewarding thing of getting The Bali Bead off the ground?

It is really really awesome! The most rewarding aspect is learning all of the ways that the Bali Bead is adding to the quality of life of its owners, the environment, and the women that make them.

The most challenging thing is getting out the word, there are so many ways that the necklace adds to improving the quality of life of all and I have to learn to focus on sharing one at a time. For example our
Statement Necklace is a great alternative to other statement pieces that can only be worn one time. Our Original in White is a favorite alternative to pearls. All the styles are metal free and can dress them up or down and still look stylish as well as appropriate.

For women (or men) with ideas but not sure how to bring them to life, do you have any advice?


Is there any expansion coming to your product line?

I've surveyed many Bali Beads owners and as a response, we will be rolling out a second line of necklaces in January 2018. There will be various adjustments to make them even more functional and stylish. Get on our mailing list to be the first to know! I am so excited for it.

If you look back at life pre-your trip to Bali and Thailand, what has changed most about your lifestyle, our life outlook, and your future goals? I am much more introspective and really, truly prioritize self care.
I even created a guide
on self care for Bali Bead women and people in general, with information on how to reduce stress, how to rest and refuel properly. These are all necessities in order to have energy to effectively manage responsibilities and life.

With regards to my lifestyle, I have had the opportunity to really drill down to what I want, how I want to spend my time and resources, and what is important to me. My outlook on life has come into focus. I always knew I wanted to make an impact and add to the quality of life of others, but I didn't know how to execute that. The Bali Bead has helped me come closer to that goal.

Connect with The Bali Bead on Instagram @TheBaliBead, and Lillian Daniels @Lillian_Daniels_!

This is Lillian and her other classmates after finishing her WYA Teacher Training in Thailand. Her classmates were from South Africa, China, the Philippines and Thailand.