Tuesday, December 9, 2008

From California, With Love

One of our goals as an Etsy Team with a blog is to showcase other Etsy stores. We put up the challenge for our team members to find one of their favorite stores on Etsy and interview them. Here is the first installment, with Alix of Treehouse28, a very successful custom clothing store for women out of California. Alix was interviewed by Allison of Allison Kallaway Designs.

Alix, What sort of training do you have in fashion design?
I don't. But I have to say my life experiences have helped. My Mother was a fashion model and I grew up having this innate sense for style. I used to take clothes and alter them by cutting them up and remaking them at a very young age. I drove my family uts, as everything anyone bought for me never remained in its original state. Later on, I worked on sets for fashion still shoots as a body art illustrator (fake tattoos, body paints, (etc). It was great exposure to the inside workings of the fashion industry. I have always been creative, and this all came very naturally to me. My designs are very simple, which may bespeak of my lack of training in fashion design, but I believe it actually helps me. I get to push the envelope with what I am able to do. It keeps the simplicity, but adds to the edginess and uniqueness.

When did you start making clothing? When I was old enough to operate a sewing machine. For anyone other than myself? About three years ago.

Where are you from? Connecticut.

What did you do before? I was a photographer, body art illustrator, scenic designer, and painter. I have always worked for myself.

Other than Etsy, where do you sell your clothing? I have a new website that sells ready to wear clothing. www.treehouse28.com. I have occasional trunk sales. I have a few scattered wholesale accounts. Primarily though, I stay very busy with Etsy and the custom clothes. That is my baby.

Do you have people helping you make your clothing? For the new website and wholesale orders, yes, I do. I essentially have two different companies under one name. I have a commercial space that is a facility for anything that is not Etsy-related. All my set pattern items are produced and managed there. For Etsy and the custom clothing, it is all me, myself and I at my home studio.

What is your most successful marketing technique? It is not something I have done personally; it is what others do for me! The blogs and articles, features, etc. are really great at driving up sales volume. I am really not a strong business person, but rather more the creative quirky type.

There are a lot of us who are new to Etsy and on-line selling, do you have any advice for those of us starting up? Believe in what you do, know your product. Use it, wear it, and test it out personally before introducing it to the public. Consistency is vital. Customers will keep coming back if they know that every time they buy a product that it is solid. Good customer service is essential. Stay on top of all questions whether by email or voicemail. Learn to lose a bit. If something goes wrong, make it right, no matter what, even if you are out the cost of the item. Great imagery is very important. You can have a fantastic product, but it won't sell unless you invest the time and energy into the way it is shown. For every pic you see in my shop, I have gone though and edited out 50 others to get to the one that works.

The next few questions about the art/inspiration side of your work:

What inspires you to make clothing? The designing of new pieces, and the day to day cutting and sewing is such a creative process. The custom cutting is a real finesse thing. I enjoy tailoring each design to fit the particular customer’s needs. My customers are what inspire me. I have made clothes for so many different types of people from all around the world. Not only are they different in body type, but also in lifestyles, age and ethnicity. I have mother / daughter customers. The fact that my clothing can resonate with different generations is so rewarding. I have had women who ride Harleys and like to pack my clothing in their side bags. There are roller derby teams, professors, artists, teenagers, moms, and grandmothers.

How often do you create new designs? What sort of process do you go through before you put out a new style. It is random, depending on my schedule and how loaded it is. I have two children that keep me busy in addition to running a full time business. I feel lucky that I don't have deadlines. I would sink.

Do you do any other art or craft?
Photography is a serious passion of mine. I absolutely love creating the imagery. I shoot all my pieces on self timer, with me behind the camera as well. It really is a one man operation. Complete control. Complete creative freedom.

1 comment:

Jamie of ItsieBitsies said...

Thanks for the wonderful interview Matt. I have always admired TreeHouse's designs.