Heidi Carlson is the creative force behind Hempress Arise, a small, hand-crafted, natural clothing business. Heidi is dedicated to using only the finest materials to carefully craft each piece of clothing.
We caught up with Heidi to ask her a bit about here work and experiences of running her own clothing business.
Heidi thanks for doing this interview with us. Can you start by telling us a little bit about how you first got started in making your own clothing to designing and selling your clothing on a larger scale?
I apparently didn’t think think raising two kids was enough work in itself, so I decided to create an occupation for myself that would be conducive to family life. With an in home studio, minimal sewing skills, and a couple of out of date sewing machines, I started what has become Hempress Arise. With much determination and the drive to be successful, my business has continued to grow into a very satisfying career. I have always enjoyed sewing, but it didn’t evolve into a true passion until I started creating clothing on a small production level. Designing and creating patterns for my my clothing line has been an exciting challenge for me.
Please talk a little bit about the materials you use and some of the philosophy behind how you run your company?
Over the years I have experimented with and used many different types of fabric. Now I prefer to use a hemp and organic cotton stretch material. It is ultra in comfort, very durable, and washes well. I run my company the way I run my life-simply. It is just me designing, cutting, sewing, dyeing, advertising and selling my wears. Although it is a lot of work for just one person, I am able to have control over my product and it brings me great satisfaction.
Can you tell us a little bit about the difference between natural or low-impact dyes and regular dyes that most manufacturers use?
Natural or low-impact dyes are bio-degradable and are much easier on our eco-systems. To be honest, I have never researched the dyes that manufacturers use, but I feel that it would be safe for me to say they are seriously toxic.
Tell us a little bit about the designs you work with to create your clothing. Are you designing everything yourself and where do your inspirations come from?
I do all of the designing myself. I start with an idea, sketch it out and then figure out all of the measurements and details on paper. It is then time to do a trial run with my prototype fabric and fine tune my pattern. The next step is to cut, sew and dye my final product. My inspirations come from a lot of different sources: nature, social outings, books, movies, friends and loved ones.
Do you specialize in a certain type of clothing?
My true passion is to create clothing for women. The fabric I use is appealing and flattering to women of all shapes and sizes. I also feel like I can step out of the box while creating womens’ clothing with unique designs, off cuts and multiple colors.
What do we have to look forward to for your spring line?
I am always excited about my Spring/Summer line as I personally embrace the warmer months of the year. I am working on new twists to old designs, some new spunky pants, shorts and tops, and of course keeping some main staples like my Flowin’ pants.
Where are some locations where our readers can find your wonderful winter clothing?
You can find my winter line at The Hemporium in downtown Ashland, at the new Ashland Artisans Emporium (in the Ashland Street Shopping Center, where the old DJ’s video store used to be), or on-line at: www.hempress.etsy.com. Starting in April you can find me at the Lithia Artisans Market (you can contact me and join my e-mail list to be informed when I will be at the market and when I host private trunk sales).
Tell us a little bit about how you learned to sew?
I grew up watching my Mom create everything from clothing to Christmas trees. Her attention to detail and the her drive to do it the way she wanted to, paved the road for my creative calling. I gathered skills from her, a class I attended in High School, and personal trial and error.
How have you connected with your customers in making and selling local clothing?
Selling my clothing is not strictly business for me. It is a beautiful way for me to energetically connect with people from all walks of life. Not only am I meeting new and interesting people, but I am able to interact with folks that have no idea what hemp is and what a positive impact it can have on our planet. To my delight, the vast majority of my local customers have been multiple, repeat customers and are always quick to lend encouraging words and even make suggestions for new designs.
The most unusual place you spotted someone wearing your clothing?
It wasn’t necessarily unusual, but it was the first time I ever saw someone wearing my clothing. When I was younger, I used to sell clothing out of my VW bus at different shows around the country. I was in the middle of nowhere (in Montana) when I caught sight of a pair of shorts that I had sold at one of those shows years before. Most recently, I was in San Francisco for New Years and to my delight and surprise almost everywhere we went we spotted someone in a piece of my clothing. It’s one thing to see my clothes on a rack in a store, it is a whole different story to see them on someone, especially far from home.
Your most favorite, to-die-for, clothing item you wished you had?
I am in dire need for a warm, yet seriously stylish (because a lot of times those two things don’t go together!) winter coat/jacket/sweater. Hmmmm…….maybe I need to think about designing one!
Hempress Arise contact information: www.hempress.etsy.com, firstname.lastname@example.org