Cañada Fashion Department (CFD): What is your ultimate goal for Ellie Fun Day?
Sarah Lin (SL): I want the company to continue to stay sustainable. This means continue to support our sewing partners in India and at the end of the day to know that they have a solid future. In addition, we’re working really hard to build awareness of our brand and to get our story out.
(CFD): What were your biggest fears starting Ellie Fun Day, and what ended up being your biggest obstacles?
(SL): I was worried about failing, and if people would like what I made. Our biggest obstacles have been the supply chain. We essentially created our own supply chain in sourcing materials, training sewists, etc. In the industry, we are small players and have little clout, but we’ve been very proud of our successes in finding like-minded people to partner with.
(CFD): Many Cañada students are interested in starting businesses. What advice would you give someone just starting out?
(SL): Fashion is a business, the hardest part is not to lose yourself. I’d say two things. First, there’s a marriage that happens between your own point of view and what the customer desires. Second, find others that are ahead of you in the process. Find mentors. Especially people that have skills and talents in areas that are outside of your core strengths.
(CFD): What is your biggest joy in what you do?
(SL): I was able to travel to India again in January. It is great to be able to connect to the women and hear their stories. One of our sewers calls our factory her “safe place.” It provides for her family and helps her create a positive legacy for her family. I also love the pride the sewers have in our product. They love what they do.
(CFD): How did you get started in the beginning?
(SL): We made prototypes and took them to stores as cold calls. We learned so much from their feedback. We also were able to raise money with crowdfunding. It was a very successful way for us to gain awareness of our product without putting out a lot of personal money.
(CFD): Can you tell us about where your products are now?
(SL): We have over 100 store accounts. We show at some of the local fairs, like Renegade. Our items can be purchased on our site. We also have a special collaboration with Barneys that comes out this month!
(CFD): You’ve connected with students and professors at Cañada. How important is community?
(SL): I believe in a community that champions you. One that picks you up on those difficult days. It is also great to have a group of peers to share new product ideas with. Their feedback is invaluable.
Thank you, Sarah, for talking with us. We wish you continued success in the future.
Images used with permission from Ellie Fun Day.