Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva

Finding Harmony through Humanity

Even amongst the regular, elite crowd on Melrose Place where the height of fashion is everyday wear, Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva is a hard woman to miss. Statuesque and glamorous, Lola’s appearance is simple and impeccable from head to toe. Yet as she steps into her own store, The Harmonist, Lola doesn’t wholly stand out because of her stunning appearance, but rather her presence. There’s a self assured quality to Lola, and also a softness that’s kind and engaging. One look at Lola’s track record, it isn’t hard to find the roots of this strong, yet generous spirit. Lola is a UNESCO ambassador representing her home country of Uzbekistan. UNESCO is an organization set on bridging cultural divides through philanthropy, and Lola’s work has made incredible strides for her own country. She’s founded two major charitable foundations, the You Are Not Alone Foundation and The Children’s Adaptation Centre, which are catered to helping orphans and disabled children. She also plays a key role as president of Uzbekistan’s Gymnastics Federation, which serves as a launchpad for young, gifted athletes. Lola’s passion for nurturing young people crosses over into her personal life as well. She’s a wife and mother to three children, proving herself a Renaissance woman whose maternal nature knows no bounds.

The Harmonist, Lola’s fragrance house, is a mirror image of its visionary. It’s regal, modern, and reminiscent of an alchemy lab: plants hang from the ceiling in clear globes, tall carved pillars of black marble reach up to the ceiling, the shelves are lined with glass jars of multi-colored ingredients, and individual spheres on a curved table each hold the unique scent of a different element. The aromas are like a trail of discovery leading up to the elegant fragrance bottles behind the counter. Based in the philosophy of Feng Shui, the perfumes are meticulously customized according to an individual’s personal element, as well as his or her personal pursuits and needs. Not unlike an alchemy lab, the perfumes in these bottles are like transformative elixirs, aimed at restoring balance within the client. Lola’s desire to create balance and harmony within individual people is a direct reflection of her desire to restore harmony to the outside world.

Did you always know that you wanted to be an Ambassador or was it more of a revelation later in your life?

I am very proud to represent my country in the UN cultural body UNESCO, which does a fascinating job in protecting the cultural heritage of humanity and in helping countries build effective, equitable and inclusive education systems. However, acting as an ambassador is not my main purpose in life. My principal calling remains my charitable work.

I have vivid memories of the day I visited an orphanage in Tashkent for the first time. I was 18 years old, a university student. Observing first-hand the difficult conditions the children were living in had a profound effect on me. This visit became a turning point in my life and it is there and then that I decided I would do my utmost to help children left without parental care, love and support at such an early age.

My first charitable organization, the You Are Not Alone Foundation, focuses on empowering children raised in orphanages, extending their life choices by offering them comprehensive education, putting hope in their hearts, and most importantly, letting them know that they are important, loved, and cared for.

What difficulties might one encounter when trying to create a bridge of understanding with other countries and cultures? Is there something fundamental in human nature that makes us build a wall when it comes to our differences?

It seems to me that since ancient times, humans have had an inherent desire to feel that they belong to a specific community, nation, etc. Conversely, man’s need for power has led to numerous wars and as a result the world’s nations have become separated and divided.

I believe that we are gradually witnessing a steady shift in people’s consciousness and that we will continue to focus on what unites us and the values common to all humanity. Not on differences of culture, religion, or language. I am absolutely certain that people will collectively come together and hand down to their descendants only beautiful traditions and their cultural legacy.

How do you approach people about a humanitarian issue that may not necessarily affect them directly, but that they may have the means or the influence to help?

I can share with you what I myself have experienced: the greatest happiness is to see the eyes of a person you have helped. By doing something good, sharing or helping in deeds or words – it does not matter which – you are filled with a great charge of positive energy. The desire to do good can, of itself, make a person happier. In conversations with my friends, I call this “training for the soul.” People think so much about how they look and they train their bodies, while forgetting that their souls need this too. “Try it,” I tell my friends. They agree, and they do try it, and then they cannot stop.

How did your own life and philosophy influence the development of The Harmonist and encourage you to start this brand?

I created The Harmonist brand to have an opportunity to help others find their inner harmony. By creating our harmony, we make our own reality. Harmonious people possess the ability to create a harmonious space around them and to make their loved ones and themselves happy.

Would you mind sharing your personal element with us and what practice you personally do to restore balance to your own life?

Yes, my element is Yang Fire – that is the sun. I love being out in nature, because I believe it is in nature that people can completely restore their vitality. Sometimes, just a long walk in the fresh air can help to relieve you of unnecessary stress and worry. There is a proverb that says, “Where people do not create litter, it will be clean.” I could apply the same principle to a person’s inner state. The desire to be at peace with yourself and have control over your negative thoughts and emotions are the key to inner harmony.

How do you cater to a person’s individual experience in The Harmonist store?

By coming to our boutique or visiting the website you can find out your personal element and, accordingly, use it to learn more about yourself.

At The Harmonist, you will be given the opportunity to immerse yourself in the basic elements presented by the ancient Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui: fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. The fragrances created in collaboration with the best “noses” in France will compel you to feel the strength and refinement of these elements. You will definitely be charmed by one of the 10 fragrances.

Text by Zee Chang