Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in clothing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sarah Torres, owner of Camas Lilly Co., located in Altadena, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
My goal is to keep textile waste from heading into landfills and create designs that will be re-worn for years to come. I design custom 'Getting Ready' robes for the modern bride + beyond through my brand Camas Lilly Co. Each order is handcrafted using Deadstock textiles and produced using 2 Slow Fashion production models: Made-to-Order and Small batch production. These methods create less waste because we are not creating new fabrics. Plus, our cutting scraps are upcycled into additional products like scrunchies and pet pillows. Our clientele is geared towards the Modern Bride, but truly these robes are made for anyone who wants to add a little fringe and glam to their day or make a statement in their wardrobe.
Tell us about yourself
I grew up in the small mountain town of Camas, WA. My mother was an avid seamstress and small business owner of her own floral design company.
Growing up surrounded by flowers and fabric has come full circle in my journey of Camas Lilly Co. Exploring the grand forests of the Pacific Northwest gave me an appreciation for the beauty Mother Nature provides. In my early days, I would share that I wanted to study to be an Environmental Lawyer. A passion for preservation and crafts lead me to work in the textile world.
For almost nine years, I worked for one of the largest Deadstock textiles suppliers in LA. If you're not familiar, Deadstock refers to the surplus fabric from a fabric mill's and/or leftover fabric from brands/designers' production runs. It astonished me that these mountains of fabric were considered "waste" and easily discarded by the original owners. As an art/fashion school drop-out, I would sew and sell my designs on the side. Picking up commissions for unique projects and markets during my own night shift.
In 2016 I was commissioned to make Bridal robes for a client. In 2018 she was featured in the wedding blog Green Wedding Shoes. I created Camas Lilly Company in less than 4 hours and started taking orders. Slowly growing and hustling and now full time as of June 2021!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Receiving notes of gratitude from clients is ( and will always be) one of the biggest accomplishments for my small business. Knowing that a design I created from start to finish will forever be cherished and appreciated by another human just melts my heart.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things that come with being a small business owner is taking breaks. As a creative entrepreneur, my brain is always on. On to the next task, on to my checklist, on to a new product idea. Then, mixed with everyday life activities, family obligations, and wanting to spend time with friends, gasps for air it can often feel overwhelming.
I manage this feeling by taking a breath, writing down my schedule, and reminding myself to go with the flow. 2020 sure showcased that not everything we plan will go accordingly. To release the control and to focus on what I do have control over brings me peace.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Release the notion of Perfectionism and just put your idea out in the world. Everything will work if you keep putting your intention and energy into your ideas.
- Honor the fear. This feeling is completely natural and is there to "protect" you. However, if you let it hold you back, you will only live with regrets. Feel the fear, and do it anyways.
- Surround yourself with fellow small business owners. You need to "talk shop" with someone other than your friends or significant other. It can feel lonely out here sometimes; having a community of fellow creatives will make the journey uplifting and easier to manage.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
You will be surrounded by doubt, internally and from outsiders. If you truly believe in the work you're creating, keep working at it. If you want to start something, but you're working full-time- make the time. Baby steps still move us forward, and the belief in yourself will make too.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.