Today is the day, friends! At 12 pm CST, I am officially relaunching my handmade clothing shop–Elsie James Clothing. For those of you who have been following along for some time, you probably know most of the story behind my brand. But if you’re new, I wanted to provided a brief synopsis of the who, what, where, when, why, and how of this passion project of mine.
Who is Elsie James? I can’t begin to tell you the amount of times people have given me a weird look or asked if my name is Elsie when I share the name of my business. I know, it is kind of odd to name a clothing shop something that could be mistaken as a person, but I couldn’t get the name out of my head and it just stuck. Elsie—my beloved great-grandmother—became an avid quilter as a 95-year-old and inspired me to learn to sew. James—my son’s middle name—is the other reason I wanted to learn. My love for well-marketed baby clothes didn’t quite align with my family’s desire to live frugally, so I learned how to sew for my son. After a few months, a lot of practice, and encouragement from friends and family, I opened Elsie James!
I started by selling baby bonnets, and my shop gradually expanded to both children’s and women’s clothing. All of the items in my shop are cut, sewn, and packaged by me and are made with the softest organic cotton that is ethically milled and dyed in the U.S. I spend hours searching for and modifying patterns, narrowing down color palettes, and sewing samples of items before they ever hit my shop. My most recent collection focuses on loungewear basics that can be worn around the house or dressed up for going out. I think high-quality basics are some of the most worthwhile wardrobe investments because they usually get worn the most!
All items are cut, sewn, and packaged right here in our home studio! I share a loft office with my husband who works from home. We recently moved, so my studio is not as finished as I would like it to be, but that will come with time!
I started this company in April of 2020 and closed at the beginning of 2021 for our move. There are a lot of registrations and legalities, and not knowing where our permanent home would be put these registrations on hold. I am relaunching today, 10/22/21 at 12 pm CST, with a new vision and clarity in mind in regard to my business. I sew when I’m not with this little guy–at naptime, bedtime, and during blocks of time on the weekends when his Dad isn’t working!
There are a lot of answers to this question. This shop is a creative outlet for me. I love to create and learn and challenge myself. I also love all of the personal connections I have made with people. Many of my customers have become my friends. We talk regularly, and I know their babies by name! I am also passionate about slow fashion and sustainability, and this shop is a practical, tangible way for me to make some small changes within the fashion industry. I have plans to invest my earnings wisely–in my son’s future education or for a rental property to be used as a long-term investment. This shop also is a way for me to pursue a career in my own time while being home with my son. I hope to teach him that he is capable of learning whatever he puts his mind to! Additionally, I am a former teacher and take 10% of my earnings to buy books for kids and educators. I believe all children should have access to quality, representative literature, and although I can’t give every kid this, through my partnerships with people who support my shop, we have been able to provide several classrooms with beautiful, new books. So as you can see, there are a lot of reasons why I have this shop.
I’ve seen this reel going around Instagram. It’s set to the tune of Full House’s intro, and the same person comes on for all of the following roles: CEO, Creator, Maker, Accountant, Shipping Crew, Graphic Designer, Photographer, Marketing Team, Customer Service, etc. Although I have done and do most of these jobs and more for my small business, I don’t think of myself as doing this alone by any means. It wouldn’t be possible for me to do this without the support of my husband. There have been so many times when I wanted to give up, but he has encouraged me to keep going. He helps me with ideas, photoshoots, packaging, and so much more. My brother designed my company logo–which includes my great-grandma Elsie’s signature and my son’s footprint. My family has encouraged me and spent time with Lincoln when I have a lot of orders. And my customers inspire me and encourage me on a daily basis! None of this would be possible without the people mentioned above and more.