Meet Seattle Maker & Mama, Lily West of Ida Love Dresses. Lily likes: cappuccinos, chardonnay, puppies, pasta, when it’s time to put the down comforter on the bed after summer, getting packages in the mail she doesn’t remember ordering, board games, and most of all, FABRIC SHOPPING. Lily dislikes: trump, spiders, gardening, solicitors, uncomfortable shoes, and doing taxes.
How long have you lived in the Seattle area? Where are you from/why did you move here? What do you do for a living? Have you always done this?
Ok! Hi! My name is Lily. I was born in San Francisco, California, and moved up to Olympia to go to college. I fell in love (with my current wife) and never made it back to CA! I went to school for photography and worked in the photography field for 20 years. I started making clothes for my daughter Ida seven years ago, and fell in love with sewing! Now, I am the owner/ sewist/ shipper/ designer/ everything-er of Ida Loves Dresses. ILD focuses mostly on kid’s clothes although I do make women’s dresses also, and some accessories.
How would you describe your work? What does this mean to you?
My work is colorful, sometimes political, but mostly just fun. I work hard to source supplies and fabrics that aren’t seen in other shops. Mostly, this means I spend more on supplies than I should, hah! But it is 100% worth it to me to have my pieces be unique, small-batch, and not anything like what you would find in a store.
Why did you decide to pursue this career?
I knew after I sewed my very first baby dress, that sewing and I had a special connection. It just felt RIGHT. I couldn’t think about anything else, I lied about having to work so I could sew in peace, it made me happy and smiley all the time. I found inspiration everywhere and had so many ideas I couldn’t keep up. It was just the right fit for me.
What makes you feel inspired?
Walking into a fabric store used to inspire me. I haven’t been inside one in over a year because of Covid- DAMN COVID!!- so now I try to get inspired by fabric shopping online. It’s not the same, but I have gotten used to it. I get a little ZING when I see a great fabric or great color palette. Ultimately, though, you can’t force inspiration. I try to jump on the ideas when I have them- or at least write them down if I can’t sew right away. But when I’m not inspired, I still try to noodle around in my studio. Sometimes ideas come that way.
What’s one thing you wish you had known when you began Ida Loves Dresses?
I wish I had known how hard it is to make a profit on making clothing. I’m making money, but probably not a great hourly rate if I calculated it out.
How do you balance being an entrepreneur & a mom?
Running a one-person business is as full-time as being a parent! Which is to say I am super busy. I try to do certain tasks in the house instead of in my office- for example, I can attach buttons to a dress while my kid and I watch a movie together. She still gets my company, we can chat, and I can do a mindless work task at the same time.
What is your favorite activity to do with your kid in Seattle?
When Ida was little, we did it all. Roller skating, beaches, playrooms, zoo, aquarium, museums, ice cream walks, lots of picnics and lunches, just the two of us or with friends. These days we mostly do trampoline time or neighborhood walks. We also go for drives and listen to a LOT of Taylor Swift and various musicals.
When you get a quiet moment, what do you like to do the most?
Drink a glass of Chardonnay and eat a bowl of cheez-its, a surprisingly good combination. I also love looking up new dinner recipes. And- you saw this coming- I love fabric shopping, even in my off time.
Do you have a favorite quote or motto?
“Do it for you.” Oddly, I heard that in an exercise class (odd because I am not known for exercising) but it stuck with me. I design for me, I make things I like, and that leads to me being happy and fulfilled. When I do custom orders that are off-brand, I end up hating them, even if my customer is happy. But at this stage in life, man, I need to be happy. Fortunately, my customers seem to like what I come up with. But when I have a design that doesn’t sell- at least I know I did it for me, and I still love the design.
Which events will you be selling at in the near future?
June 12, a pop-up for Phinneywood Art Sale & Stroll; there will be a map published with lots of cute artists showcasing around the neighborhood! Mine is literally on my back patio, ha! Also July 24 at Edmonds Summer Fest, which is put on by Urban Craft Uprising.
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