Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelsey Johnson.
Kelsey, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Hello! I was born and raised in Colorado and discovered my love for creating things by hand at a young age. I came from a family of architects, designers, and entrepreneurs who inspired and encouraged me to do something I was passionate about. I found that I loved textiles as my favorite medium to create things due to the endless colors, textures, and prints. I began my journey at Colorado State University where I took undergraduate studies in apparel design and was accepted to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco. Following that, I attended the Academy of the Art University of San Francisco and earned a B.A. in Knitwear Design. In 2015, I moved back to Denver and launched ElseWear Collective; a company focused on being ethically and locally produced, that also values the environment. Four years later, I am still devoted to creating clothing and accessories on a limited and domestic scale, and living my dream!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think most entrepreneurs and creatives can agree that managing a balance between work and life can always be challenging. For me, being my own boss requires a high (and difficult) level of accountability and making personal sacrifices in order to be able to continue doing what I love.
A prominent hurdle for me is competing against the mass markets and major retailers. Most of the industry is saturated with rapidly produced, poorly made, “fast-fashion” made by low-income workers overseas. This allows the larger companies to make a substantial profit, often at the expense of their workers and the environment. Being a small, one-woman run business, this reality is something that consistently inspires me to remain authentic and stay the course to my company’s foundation of quality over quantity.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about ElseWear Collective – what should we know?
ElseWear Collective was founded on creating luxury handmade clothing and accessories. I design, knit, and hand finish each piece individually in my Denver studio. Each one-of-a-kind garment is crafted using a hand-powered domestic knitting machine- a very slow and meticulous process! I create all my patterns by hand and do my own calculations on one of my 4 vintage machines. This creates a beautiful fully fashioned product, meaning each piece is knit to the exact shape and size so there is no leftover material and limited waste. Knitwear design is distinct in that I make the fabric at the same time as the garment, so the possibilities are truly endless. I use only natural fibers including merino wool, cashmere, cotton, and Colorado-grown alpaca. It is important to me that the fiber and materials I use are renewable and only come from happy animals!
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
My outgoing personality has really helped me engage with my customers when they visit the studio. I talk with them not only about how their sweater was made but also the bigger picture of how the clothes you buy have an impact worldwide. When people see a knitting machine for the first time, it is definitely a conversation starter, so I am thankful that comes naturally for me. I enjoy educating everyone who shows interest in my specialized process, as it is a unique one.
- Address: 851 Santa Fe Drive #107
Denver, CO 80204
- Website: www.elsewearcollective.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/elsewearcollective/
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/elsewearcollective/
Desiree Johnson Photography