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Article: The Love Story Behind EleStory: Judy and Craig's Journey

The Love Story Behind EleStory: Judy and Craig's Journey

The Love Story Behind EleStory: Judy and Craig's Journey

A little known fact about EleStory is that my husband Craig is actually the CEO and co-founder of our business, and the reason this business was able to get off the ground in the first place.  He rarely shows up on my feeds or is highlighted (since he prefers to be incognito), but if you ever ask me about how we started, I would tell you that Craig gets the credit for how this crazy little dream of mine came to be.  

Our Beginning

It all started back in college, my freshman year, when I first met Craig. He was a junior, and fate brought us together during game night of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. I couldn't help but notice his great sense of humor and, well, his five o'clock shadow on his very chiseled face, and the way his wide-legged pants (were those even in at the time? Who knew?) were simply chopped off with a pair of shears and not hemmed – just quirky details that added charm to this guy. Little did I know, this encounter would mark the beginning of our beautiful journey together.

We started hanging out a lot together, taking late night walks out to Lake Michigan across the grassy fields (and even spotting a magical meteor shower once!). During one of those late night walks, we talked about our dreams in life, and while I had forgotten what I had told him, he apparently remembered…

Fast forward to the unexpected creation of EleStory. We had just had our first daughter, June, and bought our first home. With a background in costume design, I never envisioned ever starting and owning a clothing line. However, the spark ignited while I was pregnant with June and as a way of nesting, I began designing and making baby dresses and jackets for her. This helped fuel my creativity, and the concept of EleStory was born.

Baby jacket I made for when June would be 6 months old. And baby June modeling the dress at 3m old.

Shortly after we moved into our new home, Craig unfortunately lost his job but was given a generous seven months of severance. Instead of seeing his layoff as something to worry about, he saw an opportunity to help me realize my dreams – he recalled that I had told him during one of our late night walks in college, that my dream was to create a clothing line someday! He asked me what was holding me back from doing it, and I said, “I have no background in fashion and I just don’t know where to begin.” He promised me he would help me figure it out, and he got to work. He hit the road, quite literally, driving my handmade baby dresses and jackets around to boutiques asking strangers if people would buy it. He did get some strange looks from people, but that didn't stop him from pursuing what he needed to know. Then, he found all the vendors that we would need to get a clothing line off the ground. We didn’t have enough sample sewers, so that first season, I was working full time and coming home and sewing samples for our first trade show in NYC in 2013. Life was crazy and exhausting, but exhilarating all at the same time. 

Craig and I, very young and married for five years by now. Had no idea we were going to be embarking on a crazy journey of having a baby and owning a business in the next few years.

The ‘us’ in Business

Building EleStory came with its share of challenges, especially in the early days when we explored the wholesale route. A realization hit us during our second trade show – even though we had already been selling to 40+ boutiques around the country, the wholesale path wasn't sustainable for our family. Despite the heartbreak, we trusted Craig's big picture plan, shifting our focus to online sales and slowly building the brand selling directly to customers through trial and error.

EleStory Boutique

EleStory open for business at the SF Bazaar, 2013

Over the years, the roles that we have taken on within EleStory complement each other fairly seamlessly. Craig, the optimistic visionary, balances out my detail-oriented perfectionism (with a side of pessimism haha). While he brings big-picture thinking and planning and optimism, I work on the day to day execution, designing and bringing products to market. Because I am a perfectionist by nature, and get bogged down by details (sometimes detrimental to our brand and myself), Craig is good about helping me to refocus on what matters. Together, we've built a brand that prides itself on quality and unique, one-of-a-kind products.

Being Girl Parents

June and Caris in Garden Lace

It's never as easy as it seems...

Running a business while being parents has always been a balancing act. In the early days, juggling shipping, customer service, and designing with little June by my side was challenging. Over time, we learned to balance work and family life, with our daughters, June and Caris, becoming an integral part of the EleStory journey.

Deeply passionate about raising girls who are proud of themselves, the core values of EleStory reflect in its name. Inspired by a childhood song about a little elephant embracing its uniqueness, we aim to instill a sense of worth and self-love in our daughters and all EleStory girls.

Judy, Craig, and the girls

Finding Balance Together

In the early days, when I doubted starting a business, Craig reassured me, "I can figure out these things; you just have to tell me what makes you happy." And thus, he embarked on the journey with me, finding vendors for my designs and never giving up on our dream. 

Balancing our personal and professional lives has been no easy feat. As we spend a significant amount of time together, being each other's favorite person presents both challenges and blessings. Communication, mutual respect, and occasional lunch dates help us navigate the complexities of running a business together.

Craig and June at the park so Judy can work

Craig taking June out to the park so I can work uninterrupted! :) circa 2014

EleStory, like our marriage, has experienced many ups and downs. In the early days, with a toddler, full-time jobs, and a serious commitment to building EleStory, challenges were inevitable. However, as business grew and became like our second child, we found pride in our accomplishments, learning to trust each other's ideas and intuition.

Our Advice

For couples aspiring to work together and build a successful brand, our advice is simple – always prioritize your relationship and family first, and work second. Disagreements don't diminish your love for one another, and separating family time from work is crucial. We put away our phones and computers when the kids are home with us, and we sit down for a meal together and talk about things other than work, and that has made a positive difference for us. 

Family photoshoot in mommy and me Skylet Maxi Dresses on the beach for spring and easter

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance involves setting aside time to unwind and prioritizing self-care. We go to the gym, take walks together, cook healthy meals, and divide and conquer tasks. We consciously avoid letting work take over our lives so that we can protect our relationship and quality time with our girls. 


EleStory, in many ways, symbolizes our struggles, triumphs, and commitment to each other and to our girls.. While we don't know what the future holds, we hope EleStory inspires our girls to courageously pursue their dreams and believe in the power of hard work. Our aspirations are simple – to grow together as a team.

Thank you for being part of our journey, for embracing my story, my family, and EleStory. You are all a part of our extended family. <3

Lots of love,

1 comment

What a journey!!! Thank you for sharing so authentically about your experience. I am so happy for you and Craig and your girls to have one another. Congratulations on all you have accomplished through your hard work and faith!! <33


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