The pandemic forced a new reality on the majority of the world. Things we took for granted were no longer possible.We lived and worked from home. We shopped from home. We schooled kids from home. We wore less makeup. We watched a lot of netflix. We went through mini weight gain and loss journeys. Athleisure became the norm. Travel became impossible and everything felt monotonous.
We were forcibly confined to our little bubbles. Our options were limited and our choices removed. For some this was a welcome slowing of pace. But it still took a period of adjustment to get there.
With this change so suddenly thrust upon us, we were forced inside with our “things” and our “thoughts.” There was no escaping them. Not as much opportunity for distraction. For many there was a reaction to this - a rethinking of values and priorities. Maybe the next thing to look forward to was not the next release of the newest iPhone, but the next time we could see our loved ones. It was slowly becoming apparent how useless a lot of the things that we had felt necessary were. It felt like there was scarcity in the midst of abundance; scarce fulfilment in the face of an abundance of material things. The shift for me happened when I started to feel abundance in the face of scarcity, or as I see it simplicity.
Around this time I heard about an event called Dressember. It is a brilliant challenge by founder Blythe Hill, to wear a dress every day of December to raise money for victims and survivors of human trafficking. I appreciate it’s light hearted attempt to draw attention to a cause so sobering, and it seemed like a fun way to add some variety to my otherwise stale day. I had a closet full of clothes and no where to wear them anymore. It was perfect. So, I donned a dress every day last December, took pictures and posted them on Instagram to raise money. However frivolous it seemed it also felt good to raise awareness and money for a good cause with the things I already had. And it felt like something I could control, which was hard to come by in a world engulfed by the pandemic. The bigger realization as I participated in the challenge every day was the fulfilment I got from contributing to a larger cause and being part of a community. It far surpassed the fulfilment I got from “owning” the clothes. In fact I realized how many dresses I had and felt not only overwhelmed but a distinct emptiness. Just organizing my clothes, keeping them clean and thinking about what to wear took time, and effort. Time and effort I would rather spend on things that mattered to me - my growing toddler, my relationships with family and friends, my painting, my health.
By this time me and Nancy were doing regular outreach on platforms like Instagram for the clothing business we were building, even though we weren’t sure exactly what the product would be. It was the pandemic’s version of the pop-up, that allowed us to get feedback from would-be customers. As we got into deeper conversations, we were surprised to find how many other women seemed to be in transitions also, wanting to declutter their lives, minds and closets, seeking to simplify. Simplification seemed to be synonymous with freedom, perhaps amplified by how unfree we felt during intermittent lockdowns. Another central theme that emerged was wanting to choose wisely and more responsibly about the things, people and experiences we let things into our space, because all those things require our energy and time. Being choosier and giving more weight to the things we do let into our space and closets becomes an organic way of prioritizing ourselves and our needs.
The women we struck a chord with were women who were in touch with themselves and in tune with their surroundings. Thoughtful, grounded and playful women, who think differently, believe in being more with less, enjoy being a work in progress and don’t take themselves too seriously. And want to do it all while looking effortlessly chic.
We designed ellylla for these women.