Meet our Vendor: elSage Designs
Say hello again to elSage Designs. We love these guys and love seeing their work sold all over the country. Seeing PNW love in Ohio is pretty awesome.
Who are you and what do you do?
We are Phoebe and Jonathan Carpenter Eells, we live and work in Mount Vernon, WA. Our days are a mix of designing, printing, managing all things small business, and hanging with our kids. elSage was started by Phoebe, after our oldest son was born. Her small Etsy shop took her from kitchen table creation, to guest bedroom turn studio, to renovated garage. During that time she quit her “real job” as a middle school teacher and took the business full time in 2012. During that era she was printing each piece directly from a hand carved block. Two years later, looking for a change of career, Jonathan joined elSage full time and taught himself how to screen print (mostly from YouTube videos and much trial and error). Last year we opened elSage HQ in downtown Mount Vernon. This allowed us to move production out of the garage and opened up a retail space where we showcase our handprinted goods and carry the work of about a dozen other small batch makers.. Each of our pieces is designed with intention and a story. The original designs are still created with hand-carved printing blocks. Using high quality apparel and waterbased ink we produce the raddest t-shirts and hoodies around.
Any new exciting news you’d like to share with our readers?
Our exciting news this year isn’t exactly business related. We have our third (and last) baby on the way. We will get to meet her or him this July and we’re very excited. You will see peeks of Phoebe’s growing belly at elSage HQ, (on Instagram), and possibly at this summer’s UCU event, and we will be sure to show off the little guy or gal once they arrive this July.
What was your first memory of making something?
Phoebe’s mom was always setting up artistic opportunities for her and her brother when they were little. Her earliest memory of creating is using food coloring to dye folded paper towels and hanging them to dry on the lines that her mom had strung through the kitchen. She was about 4 and would fold napkins and dip them, refold and dip the other side, each one turning out just a little different than the last.
Jonathan was more into gadgets as a kid. He would make snares and traps in the yard, trying to catch critters or trick his siblings.
Is this a full-time business for you?
This gig is full time for both of us. We are coming up on our 3 year anniversary of being entirely supported by this little business of ours. It is a tremendous amount of work and often pretty stressfu,l but we love the entrepreneur life. When Jonathan joined the business we decided that we would take advantage of the perks of making our own schedule. We are able to drop off & pick up our kids at school every day, volunteer in their classrooms, ski during the winter, and travel regularly. Every two years we take an international trip (this year was 5 weeks in Spain) which feeds us creatively and soothes our wanderlust. We adore the flexibility of being full time business owners, we also love our work (most of the time). Being creative every day, learning new aspects of business, growing and finding new opportunities, it’s all been a really amazing journey.
What’s the best experience you’ve ever had with one of your customers?
We have actually met some of our best friends through this business. Vending at rad markets opens you up to meeting all kinds of people. A few summers ago we met a guy at a farmers market who chatted for awhile and ended up inviting us to his wedding reception. We’re not normally people who show up to the wedding receptions of people we barely know (or in the bride’s case don’t know at all) but we ended up attending the best party of the summer, meeting the bride, watching The Cave Singers play, and dancing until dark with our kids. The happy couple has become great friends of ours, all because we sold a hat to that guy that one time at a market.
This time around we are doing a giveaway on our Facebook! Enter to win a hat of your choice by elSage Designs!