Born in Seoul, South Korea, Illa was 11 when she moved to Germany. She went on to work in PR, branding and marketing with local and international companies before returning to Seoul where she met Chef Daero Lee and continued working in PR. The pair made the decision to move to Sydney in 2013 after Daero received a job offer, with both working in restaurants before opening their first restaurant Soul Deli in Surry Hills in 2018. They launched Soul Deli in 2020; a venue that was inspired by a COVID-19 pivot. Illa is continuing her studies after beginning a WSET Diploma in Wines and is passionate about food and beverage matching.