Article: Worth the Wait: Autumn Bloom 🍂 (& what we've been up to)
Worth the Wait: Autumn Bloom 🍂 (& what we've been up to)
Our Autumn Bloom 🍂 collection is finally here...and I couldn't be more proud for you to see these. If you've been following us for a while, you may have known that I took a personal break earlier in the year, and as a result, we haven't had any new products this year...until now (!!).
Truth be told, exactly a year ago, I found myself completely burned out and overwhelmed. There had been big changes in our lives, including a difficult transition to preschool for Caris, and the two nannies that had helped care for her also simultaneously decided to move away. Not having the help that I had grown dependent on was a lot rougher than I had expected. Our small business had also been impacted by other forces at play in the social media and ads space, and it was disheartening.
As I struggled, EleStory began to struggle too. I felt like I was "failing" on so many fronts, and the pressure to keep going was mounting. That, and with the impending closure of our San Francisco production houses (one of them had announced they were closing soon), the future seemed very uncertain. In February, we told our employee during a team meeting that we were thinking of taking a pause with the possibility of shutting down after that time, and that we planned on liquidating our inventory. It was a very emotional team meeting, where we hugged each other and cried.
We spent the next few months in liquidation mode, and in that time, I found myself not being able to stop thinking about new designs for the following season. I quickly realized that I still very much loved creating and missed it, when I wasn't doing it. So maybe I just needed to figure out how to sustain the business and my mental health. I reopened the conversation with my husband and our faithful employee about continuing the business for another season, and what we would need to do differently, if anything.
Amongst many other things like a website update, we also made a big decision to explore moving our production from San Francisco (where EleStory was born, and where we had been making all of our clothes the last ten years) to Asia (currently China and potentially Taiwan, where I still have family and my roots).
This was not a decision we made lightly, as we knew the values that we have held so dear to our hearts still stand. We have always and will continue to uphold high quality craftsmanship in every garment we create, provide workers with good working conditions and hours, pay living wages to every hardworking man and woman (no child labor ever) in production, to name a few.
We tested a few new designs for this Fall/Winter season with a few production houses and eventually narrowed it down to just one that we felt was most aligned with our values, and could see a longterm partnership with. It was also important that we are able to make our garments in smaller batches like we always have, as to reduce potential waste and our environmental impact.
Now, a few months into this process, while the journey hasn't been easy by any means, I feel so grateful. Before, I was wearing so many hats, maybe too many: from designer, production manager, to running all of marketing -- I felt like I was flailing. Having moved production to China for this new season, where I am still very much involved in the creation of each garment, without the craziness of being on the ground running production (physically moving rolls of fabrics, counting how many yards are left on rolls of fabric, transporting sewing notions to and from the city, and supervising every step of the production process, etc etc), it has felt to me a lot more manageable.
Admittedly, it is still hard being a perfectionist wanting to make sure every detail is done correctly, being so far away. But, thanks to technology, we're able to have frequent video calls with the production manager who is on the ground. So, it has been surprisingly smooth. I honestly didn't think we would be able to launch anything in time since we started exploring producing overseas with only 4 months' time. But, our team came through.
I had this design for Autumn Blossom in my head for a while, after first laying eyes on this beautifully embroidered fabric. I wanted a really full skirt that skims the floor for that dramatic feel and look. The sleeves and the smocking details might just be my favorite things about this dress. I love the way the embroidered flowers are featured on sheer sleeves. We iterated this design a few times to get it just right, and the fit to be flattering.
I am so excited for you to see these dresses in person -- as they continue to ship out to your beautiful families. I hope that you will feel the love and thought that I put into every element of the designs. Thank you again for being on this crazy ride with me, our team, and our family -- we wouldn't be here without your love and support all these years.
Lastly (but not the least), credit must be given to my incredibly talented friend Kortnee Kasten @tumblingsparrow. We met virtually many years ago and in person for the first time more than five years ago. She and her family came to the Bay Area and made a special stop just to see us and capture these gorgeous photos of our family. Our youngest girls Maisel and Caris finally got to meet for the first time too. We will forever cherish these photos she took for us just minutes from our home, with this gorgeous view of the sunset. Thank you, sweet friend.