We met Dillyn Lietzke owner & designer for Lei by Dillyn at an art show she was a part of with Chris Miyashiro last year. The installations she created left us knowing we would have to highlight her craft in the future. Fast forward to December of 2021 when chatting about women who inspired us in their crafts, we knew she had to be one of them!
Dillyn, carries the true spirit of Aloha in her heart and weaves it into everything she creates. She opened up her home to us, walked us through her process of making lei, and left us feeling inspired to create, with a deep appreciation of the land + a handful of homegrown avocados. Come hangout in the yard with us & see what she does so effortlessly and with true intent on the blog.
Introduce yourself! Where do you live and what is your craft / profession?
My name is Dillyn Lietzke, and I was born and raised on Oʻahu. I currently live in my childhood home in Mānoa. I’m a student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa majoring in Natural Resource Environmental Management, and I own a small business called Lei by Dillyn. Through my business I teach lei making workshops, make floral arrangements and installations, lei, and occasionally some originally designed merchandise.
When did you decide you wanted to be a designer - what led you to that profession & passion?
I’ve always enjoyed art in its various forms and finding new creative outlets for myself, lei making has been a huge one of them. I never explicitly thought “I want to own a business and this is what it's going to look like ''. My junior year of high school I started putting the lei I made on my instagram story to see if anyone was interested in buying them, and very soon I had a lot of inquiries. That was four years ago, and since then my hobby has grown into a small business, and I too have grown a lot as a young woman, a business owner, and a lei maker.
There is so much to learn when it comes to lei making from cultural protocols, to techniques, and stories that go along with these traditions. I’m very passionate about sharing this side of lei making, and I love finding creative ways to do so. I think it’s important to perpetuate this craft so it may live on for generations, but also make it relevant in modern settings.
What or who has grown you into the woman you are today?
There are so many people who have shaped me into the woman I am today, but mainly my parents. They have always supported me in all of my various endeavors (and there have been a lot of them), and they always push me to be the best version of myself in whatever I do. They have instilled confidence in me that I have the power to take on whatever gets thrown my way. As far as lei making goes, my kumu John Chock taught me so much about lei and the culture behind this practice. Everything I know I credit to those who have taught me, my mentors, and our kūpuna who have worked hard to pass down this knowledge.
As a designer how do you stay inspired?
I draw most of my inspiration from native plants, lei making, and Hawaiʻi. My foundation is in lei making, and it has given me a muse when exploring other forms of art. To stay inspired I try to dip my toes into a little bit of everything. In addition to lei making and running workshops I’ve come to enjoy block printing, floral arranging, graphic design, and styling photoshoots. With each of these endeavors I like to incorporate lei, native plants, and Hawaiʻi into them in some shape or form.
When not designing/creating, where can we find ya! How do you refuel?
Whenever I’m not creating or in school, I always make my way down to the ocean. I enjoy freediving, paddling, sailing with the Polynesian Voyaging Society, and surfing. I surf a lot throughout the week, it helps me to clear my mind and just enjoy the moment. I’ve been surfing since I was little so it has always been something I can turn to when I’m feeling stressed or burnt out. I always come out of the water feeling recharged and better than when I entered. It also gives me a lot of time to think. A lot of times whenever I’m trying to figure something out, the answer will come to me when I’m just sitting and waiting for the waves.