1. How did you get your start in the handmade community?
My mother taught me how to sew when I was about 7 years old and I never stopped. I made my entire wardrobe in high school and my first job was at a bridal shop altering wedding gowns, bridesmaid dresses, and even my classmates prom gowns. After college, I moved from a small town outside of Pittsburgh, PA to Los Angeles where I made a career for myself in the fashion industry as a production manager, product developer, and fashion designer. I started my first business, Iron Doll Clothing, when I was 26 years old making uniforms and athletic apparel for roller derby skaters all over the world. And then, like most stories, I started a family and was forced to scale way back on everything I did. I let go of my first business and returned to being a fashion designer for someone else's small business. While the fast fashion day job paid the bills, it lacked personal creativity and expression. I yearned to be hands on, back at the sewing machine, and often day dreamed of the little outfits my mother sewed for me as a girl and the special bond it created between us. It became obvious that a girls clothing line was the perfect side business for me and my family. In August 2016, I slowly started to explore Etsy, local markets, and began following business bloggers who focused on helping handmade businesses. The handmade community was absolutely fascinating to me and honestly a little mind boggling. I seemed to have the opposite problem of most makers. Having a background in mass garment production, it's very easy for me to figure out how to make 100-1000 of the same thing. I was used to working with employees, I had pricing knowledge, product development experience, and understood wholesale very well. But I couldn't really wrap my brain around producing and selling on a smaller scale. And yet the intimacy and personal attention given to each piece, each customer, really called to me. Spending quality time on design was why I fell in love with sewing in the first place and I wanted those feelings back in my life. I started both an online Etsy shop and a Shopify shop and immediately signed up for several local Spring markets - all before I really even had finished product to sell! But it motivated me to hit the sewing machine hard and soon my first Spring collection was released early 2017. Even now I continue to fall in love with the community, the people, and the customers. It's a very unique and loving place to be.
2. What do you feel makes your work unique and truly your own?
My husband, Jorge, comes from a family that's been in the pleating and stitching business for two generations. He owns an 11,000 square foot facility outside of downtown Los Angeles called ACE Pleating & Stitching and does specialized fabric manipulation for the garment industry, costumers, and high end fashion designers. He handles the complex machinery and technical steps that bring my visions to life. If a machine doesn't exist to accomplish the look I want, he can Frankenstein one together for me. I have the eye for fabrics and colors as well as the skills to bring our customers high quality, well fitting garments. Our daughters are our models, our inspiration, and our number one product testers. It is a combination of artists and family that make our clothing so unique and personal.
3. What or Who Inspires you?
Family. My mother, father, husband, and my girls are my biggest inspiration. My parents both worked full time jobs and still managed to raise two kids while enjoying hobbies like building their own house and growing their own vegetables. Artists at heart, they had a hands on, do it yourself approach to everything. Their work ethic and creativity runs through my blood and I'm so proud of all they have done and continue to accomplish. My husband is the same way, hard working, very attentive to details and getting the job done right through quality over quantity. And our two beautiful children, viewing the world through their eyes brings fresh perspective and beauty to our surroundings. Everything is new to them and it's really forced me to slow down and take in the world around me.
4. What is your creative process like?
I'm a very visual, paper and pencil, trial and error kind of person. I have to see the finished product in order to make design decisions. I love scrolling through fashion photography, lifestyle brands, and magazines. I feed off the emotions imagery projects and hone in on those trends and ideas. Then I create mood boards of colors, silhouettes, and photography that inspires my collections. And finally, I hit my studio, drafting patterns, cutting samples, and sewing. I'll repeat the sampling process, tweaking the patterns, cutting and sewing new samples until I am satisfied with the final product. It's a very tedious process, but completely worth it when I hear a customer notice and praise every detail I put into the piece.
5. What is the coolest artistic tip you have ever received?
I have never forgotten this quote from Gwen Stefani talking about her time spent working with Prince She [Gwen] explained: "Prince, who is one of my idols, gave me some advice when I worked with him, 'Have you ever just tried writing a hit? Like, don't just try writing a song, try and write a hit song'. I remember him saying that and me thinking, 'Yeah, you're right. Why would you write anything else?'" (I just spent 15 minutes on google trying to find this quote, because I wanted to get it just right LOL). Whether it be my career or my personal creative adventures, I'm not here just to make clothing, I want to create something that makes people so excited they can't stop talking about it. They love it so much they recommend it to their friends and it becomes their favorite go to piece. I design so it evokes emotion, memories, and they can't live without it.
6. What can we expect to see from you at Jackalope?
Jackalope attendees can expect a fun, minimalist booth filled with whimsical infant and toddler girl's clothing made from fresh organic cotton prints and textured fabrics featuring our signature modern smocking. They will be able to see and feel in person the pieces we have in our online shop as well as a few "exclusive to Jackalope" handmade pieces! Shoppers can easily find the perfect handmade gift of clothing for that special little girl in your life. Or perhaps if they are due to update their family photos? If so, expect the perfect outfits for photos that will help tell the story of your family for years to come. And finally, you can expect a warm welcome, a heart filled hello, and a good conversation from me, Rachel, the maker. I love to talk about handmade, family, community, and I look forward to making new friends.
7. Where can we learn more about you?
My favorite meet up is Instagram, search for @duchessandgoose and you'll find beautiful lifestyle photography, outfit inspiration, and lots of emojis. To see close ups of our clothing or to learn more about me and my family, visit our online store at www.duchessandgoose.com I also make special appearances on facebook, pinterst, and etsy also under @duchessandgoose