Lily McNeal is synonymous with beautifully crafted knits and sweaters and has evolved from a concept hatched in the hills just north of Los Angeles to an international operation with its headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. Lily McNeal has given birth to a brand of luxurious knits that feature the finest yarns available from around the world for its expanding line of cardigans, coats, shawls, tunics, shrugs, hoodies, turtlenecks and dresses.
Lily McNeal was launched in 2002 by its two founders, Anna and Stephen. Anna Barthelme is the collection designer and spent her childhood in Copenhagen, Denmark. Stephen Elkind is the Chief Executive Officer and grew up in a small town outside of Boston.
In 2001, Anna met Stephen at the birthday party for a mutual friend. She shared the story about her kitchen being inundated with two looms and piles of orders for her custom sweaters at the time. This chance meeting led to many more where they explored ways to officially launch a company based on the product that she was making by hand. Stephen’s background with finance, investment banking, and an MBA education laid a foundation for building Lily McNeal’s expanding brand.
Since its inception, Lily McNeal has been gaining continuous support from a growing list of high-end boutique retailers. The collection has been regularly used in all the major national and regional fashion trades including The NY Times Sunday Style section, Vogue, InStyle, Lucky, Glamour, Marie Claire, O, Allure, Natural Health, Shape, Fit, Real Simple, Fit Pregnancy, Self, Lifetime, More, WWD and Apparel News.
The Lily McNeal collection is a favorite among many celebrities and has been selected for wardrobe in many television shows including "Friends" and Jessica Simpson's "Newlyweds", and "Desperate Housewives".
Today, Lily McNeal is about pure style, vivid color, clean lines and the artistry of knitting, with a thread of fun sewn in for good measure. Together, Anna and Stephen have dedicated themselves to the poetic endeavor of creating a collection that expresses the worldly, elegant, ever-changing, sophisticated spirit of the modern woman.
Lily McNeal is quickly becoming a name synonymous with classic, timeless apparel.
Anna is the collection's designer and spent her childhood in Copenhagen, Denmark where the roots for Lily McNeal sweaters stem from. There, in a home economics class Anna was introduced to the art of knitting. Once learning the basics of the centuries old practice Anna began to experiment with color, pattern and stitches to make this tradition something she could call her own.
Anna knitted throughout her childhood and formative high school years recounting stories about making her own clothes and wearing them to parties. Upon moving to the United States at the age of eighteen, she decided to pursue an acting career; however knitting never strayed too far from her daily life. Anna was classically trained as an actor. She worked off-Broadway and appeared in plays in New York. In 1995, when she moved to Los Angeles, she continued studying and working as an actor. Whether she was in New York or Los Angeles, Anna found that acting often meant a lot of free time. Backstage she took that opportunity to knit for herself, her friends and her family. It wasn’t long before her friends were telling their friends about Anna’s hand knit sweaters and after some coaxing, she had a growing custom clientele. The seed for a line of handmade sweaters was sewn.
Paying homage to her father, Anna named her sweater line, Lily McNeal, the pseudonym Donald Barthelme, a world-renowned story writer and editor, would often use to pen some of his more opinionated think pieces that would later appear in the New Yorker and Esquire magazines. Where Lily McNeal gave Anna’s father the freedom to express alternative points of view, the same name gives Anna the freedom to express herself by way of design.
Stephen is the Chief Executive Officer for Lily McNeal. Stephen grew up just south of Boston, the son of an entrepreneur and a registered nurse. Although an "East Coaster" at heart, Stephen attended UCLA and found an immediate home for himself on the West Coast. Stephen ensures that all aspects of Lily McNeal stay true to its roots while building strong partnerships with its supporting retailers.
Growing up, Stephen had an affinity for building things and figuring out how they worked. His bedroom soon became a showcase for 100's of model cars, boats and planes, as well as disassembled light switches, garage openers, and electronics. This curiosity and dedication immediately lent themselves to his first post-baccalaureate job as a technology consultant for Deloitte & Touche. There, he developed a niche consulting practice within the firm before running the operations for I-Pro, an Internet start-up firm in the San Francisco Bay Area.
His path was on the corporate track, each step paving way for the next venture. However, his career needed more breadth, so he studied entrepreneurial studies and finance at UCLA’s Anderson Business School where he received his MBA. Wall Street was his next calling as an investment banker for Bear Stearns. Banking eventually brought Stephen back to the West Coast; his educational background and experience more solid than ever. However, he still had that innate need to 'build' and he wanted to follow the entrepreneurial footsteps of his father.
Not long after being back in Los Angeles, Stephen was introduced to Anna and the Lily McNeal vision soon followed. In early 2002, under carefully laid out plans, the Lily McNeal company was launched and their collection for the Holiday 2002 season was introduced in June of that same year.