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SFD048: How An Amazing Eco Friendly Clothing Brand Was Built On The Passion Of One Woman

Contact Heidi: podcast (at) SuccessfulFashionDesigner.com

If you need a shot of inspiration, you’ve got to hear this conversation with my guest Elle – the creator and designer behind Ellerali, an eco friendly clothing brand built solely on the passion of its founder. Elle wasn’t educated as a designer, she was trained as a marine biologist. But that hasn’t stopped her from following her passion for design, upcycling, and the creation of sustainable fashion.

Elle began sewing in 2012 and almost immediately began designing and handcrafting clothes. She loves to create out of repurposed fabrics in a way that does not add to the human imprint on planet Earth.

Ellerali is a lifestyle eco-fashion brand focused on multifunctional clothing that avoids waste and gives great value to the consumer at the same time. Elle’s guiding motto is “No scrap left behind.”

Join us for this conversation. It’s inspiring, motivating, and encouraging to hear what passion can achieve.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:42] A marine biologist turned designer.. a passionate designer doing amazing things
  • [5:15] Elle’s story: How she became the founder of an eco-friendly clothing brand
  • [11:28] Beginning to design and generating income to sustain her efforts
  • [20:34] Scaling the business and establishing unique, cause-oriented partnerships
  • [26:10] The promotional power of wearing and using your own product
  • [29:00] Making the most of curated craft shows and events
  • [34:10] The current challenge: scaling the business while creating and designing
  • [38:57] Manufacturers, investing in her business, and being true to her values
  • [52:20] Overcoming the fear of putting yourself out there
  • [56:50] The legalities and nuances of working in the upcycling movement
  • [1:07:24] What do people not ask about the fashion industry that they should?

The MFS (Multi-Functional Shawl): Elle’s stylish application of her desire to not be wasteful

A wonderful example of the creativity and ingenuity Elle brings to her eco friendly clothing designs is what she refers to as “The MFS” or Multi-Functional Shawl. As its name implies, it’s a multifunctional clothing accessory that can be transformed to suit any outfit. It’s also reversible. I own two of these and love them!

The MFS is an item that Elle creates intentionally from salvaged material such as ends of fabric rolls or leftover scraps from a production run. She designs them with zero waste in mind. One of the unique things about the MFS is that those who purchase it truly receive a one-of-a-kind piece of clothing because of the nature and sourcing of the materials used in their creation.

You can see a video of the MFS here.

Elle wears her own eco friendly clothing because she believes she is her own best billboard

As Elle got started with her sewing and clothing design work, she wasn’t sure what would come of it. All she knew was that she loved doing it and making a positive impact at the same time. It was the marriage of two incredible passions. As she began making things, she began wearing them. That’s when she discovered an amazing reality…

She was her best billboard.

People she met began asking her where she got the unique things she was wearing. Naturally, she was encouraged by the attention and was humbled when, after discovering that she’d created the clothing herself, many of them asked if she would create a piece for them.

An incredible aspect of promotion that many DIY designers overlook is that people need to see the clothing in action, and you are indeed your best billboard. In this conversation, Elle and I talk about how important it is for designers to “eat their own cooking,” so to speak, and the powerful impact it has on product demand. There are many lessons to be learned from Elle’s experience. I hope you take the time to listen.

To maintain the values behind her eco friendly clothing brand, Elle has to move slowly

As any business endeavor begins to gain steam, it’s natural to become excited about the forward progress you’re beginning to experience. But that excitement can lead to hasty decisions and compromise if we are not careful.

Elle points out that the things that she loves about her creations – that they are eco friendly and sustainable – are exactly the things she has to keep her focus on as she begins thinking about mass production of her clothing. There are so many opportunities to cut corners that bypass the vision behind what she’s doing, and she never wants to do that.

So she’s taking it slow. One step at a time. In her words, “I want to grow, but I want to be smart about it.” That’s great advice for any designer, whether we’re creating eco friendly clothing or not, don’t you think?

“If we persist, it will happen.” Great advice from my friend that we all need to remember

Design is a passion even more than it is a means of making a living, so most of us who are truly committed to designing will likely stay at it, at least on a small scale. But for those of us who want to build something bigger, something that is able to create a lifestyle and life we love, it can be a very discouraging road.

One of the most important lessons Elle has learned in her journey so far is the value of persistence and consistency. She says that in spite of the discouragements that crop up along the way, the path is worth it and she simply needs to keep going. She doesn’t need to be afraid or nervous about what the future might bring. In her words, “If we persist, it will happen.”

I so enjoyed my reconnection and conversation with Elle. I encourage you to check out her eco friendly clothing line and support her as you are able. She’s a great inspiration to anyone just starting out in fashion design because it wasn’t too long ago that she was just starting out, too.

Thanks for listening.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Elle

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