Meet Heidi, a beautiful, talented and strong woman. I first met Heidi a few years back and asked her to design and construct my wedding dress from recycled material. After dozens of drawings and fittings, we landed on the perfect dress. I call Heidi strong because I know that designing a wedding dress from scratch, for a neurotic Bride like me, couldn’t have been easy. So, thanks Heidi, you helped make me feel beautiful while allowing me to wear a dress that was locally and sustainably made. You are an inspiration to me and I am so grateful to have worked with you. Enough about me, here she is:
1. Tell us about yourself and where you’re located.
I’m Heidi Brown, a clothing designer, step-mom, and fabric hoarder. I spend my days in my studio sewing, patternmaking, designing graphics, planning photo shoots, and being generally productive. I spend my evenings doing mom stuff. My nights, often very late nights, are spent conceptualizing collections or at the sewing machine.
I’m lucky enough to live just outside Ithaca, NY in Slaterville Springs (although my address says Brooktondale). My family and I have a house on top of a hill with lots of forestland surrounding us. It’s a pretty wonderful life.
2. What is your business and what sets you apart from others?
I’m the proud owner of sustainable design company, Heidalas. I’ve always thought that what sets my clothing apart is the equal emphasis on style and sustainability. I don’t sacrifice either in my designs. I like to think that my clothes speak to a style that is fresh, fun, and just a little different. I use all organic, renewable and recycled materials in order to be nice and respectful to Mother Nature.
3. What is your passion in life and/or business?
My passion in life and business is the same: to create. I like to make things, using my brain and my hands. Really, it’s more like a need. A compulsion. The sustainability aspect is such a part of my day-to-day life that it never occurred to me to design in another way. I buy organic and recycled fabric for the same reasons I buy organic food and recycled clothing for my kids: it just makes more sense to me to live that way.
4. What brings you ultimate joy and inspiration?
Nature. Nature and silence. In a moment of silence the city can be almost as enchanting as the forest. Both settings seem to bring out a feeling of awe in me that often compels me to be creative.
5. Who are your dream customers/clients?
My dream customers are the ones that keep coming back! But really, I like to think that modern women like Summer Rayne Oakes (Source4Style founder, activist, and model) would be drawn to my style. Classy, adventurous, conscious, women that take the world by the reins. An expendable income sure helps, too!
6. What has been one of your biggest lessons or challenges as an entrepreneur, and how did you learn from it?
My biggest lesson came when I approached my second store. The owner tore my designs apart, and rightly so. It was terribly humbling, embarrassing, and totally opened my eyes. I realized that I wasn’t really designing anything new, that I was embellishing the used. I went straight to work and have spent the last five years learning to drape (for real), make patterns, and build a sewing repertoire. I’ve been testing designs at craft shows and local clothing stores throughout that time and finally, with Spring/Summer 2013: Simple is Better, I feel like a real designer.
7. Where do you see yourself in 3 years from now?
Three years!? I barely plan 3 weeks ahead! But by 30 years of age, I would like to have established my brand with a couple dedicated team members and be working on one of the other 50 or so sustainability or fashion related projects I’d like to see happen here in Ithaca, NY. Maybe another little human running around the house, a few more rooms painted, another garden up the hill. Pretty standard, I think.
8. If you had 30 seconds in an elevator with your role model, who would it be and what would you say?
30 seconds in an elevator with Betsy Johnson. I’d say what are you doing for the next meal/do you want to grab a drink. And then I’d ask her to tell me everything and promptly shut my mouth.
9. If money was no issue, where would you be and what would you be doing?
I’d be traveling all the time and sewing only when I feel like it, or can’t help it. My studio would be it’s own building next to the house with separate rooms and unlimited supplies for painting, drawing, designing, sewing, and maybe stained glass (my Mom does it, I’ve always wanted to try). We’d be adding tons of ridiculous additions to the house, paving the driveway, and generally sprucing the place up.
10. Any words or wisdom you would like to share with others looking striving to become their dream?
Trust yourself, don’t give up, don’t give in, and only believe half of what everyone tells you. The trouble is learning which half.
Fun facts about me:
I am currently listening to: The Lord of the Rings (I can’t listen to music while I sew; dancing at the sewing machine is dangerous!)
My favorite book is: The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood and Little Altars Everywhere
My favorite business tool or piece of equipment is: My serger.
My favorite quote is: Life is 1% what happens to you and 99% how you react to it.
And just in case you were curious about my wedding dress, here it is.