When I came up for the vision of Estella Grace about 4 years ago I wanted to have a fully home-grown country store where everything was made from the ground up. My dream was to turn organically grown cotton into fabric and produce simplistic textiles that made any house feel like a home. I began the actual journey of creating this brand 2 years ago and like any project that is new and foreign, it was a road of self-discovery.
I have always gravitated to the home since I was a child and creating one that felt warm and personable has been my life’s work as an interior designer. Everything from the color, smell, and taste that goes into creating a home. My biggest dilemma starting out was having product that fit into my Made in USA brand. When I got on the phone with USA factories I hit some road blocks with higher pricing and product minimums that were extremely high-risk. My next offer was to meet with a factory that would make half the product in China and then assemble the other half here is LA. I was appalled – products that said they were Made in USA were only assembled here. That REALLY didn’t sit well with me and the integrity of my brand. I was starting to lose my momentum, my mo-Jo… I chose home-grown products specifically to steer away from shipping and transporting overseas to cut back on pollution and help the environment so I hit another road block.
I wanted to have home textiles so I honed in on printing my own. I would find an organic cotton fabric mill in the US and have a conversation with the owner for 45 minutes. He had a country accent and seemed sincere explaining to me the shortage of organic cotton which effects how much fabric they can make a year. They were one of the last surviving fabric mills and at the time it was like finding a needle in a haystack, however there was a problem the fabric was not finished. This meant I would have to get it prepared for printing, and then ship it to a printer who had a wide enough machine to print on it, which I couldn’t find either. The costs were going up and I had not way to test it before going to market and placing a large order.
Estella means “Star” so essentially she was the Star of Grace. I envisioned her to be a selfless woman from the 1940’s who was poised and kind. She knew the exact recipe on how to make everyone feel at home in her country store. This wouldn’t be the retail store we know today, it would be a different type of retail experience. She might have been my alter-ego, but I was nothing like this woman at the time, so I thought to myself if I was Estella Grace, what would I do?
A light bulb went off. I would learn how to make my own products. BUT! And there was a huge but – HOW? I had never made products before so the first step was figuring out what I could make. I was always crafty, but I was horrible at sewing. I got a C in Home Economics, so that was out. Candles & lotion bars came to mind, because of a friend. She was one of those angels, showing me the way. She was a veteran in this category and made them as gifts for friends. Now this was something I could grasp onto. I began to eat, sleep, and breathe my products, living my brand and channeling Estella Grace. It was empowering at first, although I struggled with finding the right ingredients, the scents and the packaging. How could I create a simple candle, that could also be recyclable? And that’s when the mason jar came to mind. After several attempts, I found the highest quality soy wax, oils, and wicks. I learned how to speed up the process, reduce air bubbles, photograph and market them – this was the really tricky part. How do you sell and market a candle when there are literally thousands on the market and consumers can’t smell them? So I began to do events and my candles were selling out. This is what I call progress.
More progress continued, creating my 1st vintage inspired dress samples, but I needed something more tangible, easy to create that wasn’t at such a high price point.
So I moved onto bath bombs…
I researched for days on end, calculating my own recipes, scents, shapes…I didn’t want these to just fizz up in the bathtub, I wanted my bath bombs to have real bubbles. I became a chemist researching the exact additive and formula to create my bath bombs. I experimented with rubber molds, plastic molds, and cookie cutters. Then came the scents, smells…
And recently I created my first bubble bath bombs which are quite amazing.
Here are my latest Sweetheart Candy and Rose Scented bath bombs for Valentine’s Day. I always love having scents that are reminiscent of my childhood. They give you that warm and fuzzy feeling inside when you smell them and that is what this brand is all about.
Building a brand is not as glamorous as people may think. It takes a lot of time and energy ~ continually pouring love into it like a baby. Most of my products are birthed right in my kitchen. I get the vision, I follow an idea, and I research it diligently. It can be discouraging seeing businesses similar to it pop-up everyday, but the vision of my brand is still in tact and for whatever reason the dream chose me and I won’t stop until I see it through. I have recently merged my interior design business under my brand which is a step in the right direction. My journey took a detour learning how to create products from scratch, but it’s what keeps this dream going.
You can follow my progress on building my brand right here. I would love to hear your feedback so please leave me comments.
And don’t forget to join our recipe of the month club with MasterChef Whitney Miller. February’s recipe is a homemade Mississippi Mud Pie!
To shop Valentine’s Day Gifts, visit my online country store.