Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Designer Feature- Papoose Clothing- Ashley

   This Tuesday seems like a great day to post a new interview from another talented Etsy designer. Today I'm particularly excited to introduce Ashley from at Papoose Clothing. Ashley creates some incredibly adorable children's garments and many have a vintage, almost princesses feel to them. What little girl wouldn't want to be adorn in one of her designs?
   You'll definitely enjoy learning little bit about Ashley and her experience creating her children's garments.
1) Tell us your story about how you began sewing children's garments.
My name is Ashley, and my shop and I currently reside in south Mississippi. I was born in Lake Charles, LA, raised in Montgomery, AL, and went to college where I met my husband in Birmingham, AL. I have moved around too often to feel one city was really home, but I would definitely place the South as where I’m supposed to be. My mom first taught me how to sew when I was young, but it wasn’t until college when I was taking costume construction classes for my degree in Theatre that I really started to develop my skills. I would sew a few things here and there but never took myself seriously. It would take another few years until my niece arrived to encourage my creativity and begin designing children’s clothes. I loved the process so much and the miniaturized results that I immediately took the plunge into opening an Etsy shop.
2) What's your design process for your garments? 
 My process has definitely evolved over the years. In the beginning I was taking in and tailoring clothes for me to wear since I am so short and petite, which really helped me understand how clothes are constructed. In my costume construction classes, we were taught to read patterns, so I became comfortable with those when sewing my own personal dresses. When I started making children’s clothing, I went to vintage patterns for inspiration and help in pattern drafting sizes for wee ones. I have learned a lot over the years and now draft my own patterns for my line. It takes so much time to design, draft, and construct a single piece of clothing, usually taking months in the making from initial idea to final presentation.
3) How do you come up with your style and designs for the garments?
I have always loved watching old movies so it was natural for me to prefer a classic aesthetic in my designs, but I feel my clothing also has a sense of whimsy and imagination. Children’s clothing is special because you can go a bit over the top in dramatic bows and frilly ruffles and it still work for the design and be wearable. With the Spring/ Summer collection I just released, I was inspired by Louisiana bayous where I remember playing in my grandfather’s backyard. From the cypress trees emerging mystically out of the murky waters to the smell of French roast coffee from where I sat playing on the front porch swing, I immersed myself in those memories and experiences to create a very personal collection I sincerely hope I expressed well enough for people to understand and appreciate.
4) Are you full time with your Etsy shop?
It has taken me three years, but I am finally reaching the full time goal I have been working towards. I have a loose timeline set in place, and it looks like the Spring is when I will be taking the plunge. I have been working as a preschool teacher for the past seven years, which has really helped me understand children’s clothing and what I want to bring to the industry, particularly in the South where it’s nothing but smocked designs and pillowcase dresses with embroidered madness on them. I have been fortunate to have a very loving and generous husband who is as dedicated to this dream of mine as I am. He has had the responsibility of a full-time job these past few years, and it has been such a blessing to finally be able to pay bills instead of creating them with new sewing machines or other inventory needs.
5) Right now what's your most popular item?
I would have to say the Long Sleeve Peplum Blouse with Peter Pan Collar from the Autumn/ Winter 2013 collection is a frequent seller right now. I was going for a neutral, timeless look when I was designing it, and peplums were all the rage last season. I love the top, especially on my niece during the photo shoot because I feel like she should be quoting Shakespeare while wearing it: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Perchance thou should buy her Papoose Clothing.” You know, something like that.
6) Any tips for home sewers making children's apparel?
I would have to say start out behind the scenes first and develop your business ideas fully before sitting down at a machine. Figure out your target audience and your design aesthetic, if there’s a market for it, create your brand, put everything into place so you can hit the ground running. I did not do that, and it would have been so much easier in the long run. It looks easy to start on Etsy, but if you want a fully-realized business, a plan needs to be set in place with goals and timelines. Otherwise, you could look like a hobbyist testing out the waters. It does take time and money, but it is such an important step if you want to be taken seriously. Then you can start doing the fun things like designing and constructing!

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