Meet Elli White - the woman behind the beautiful indie brand, The Old Rectory Clothing Company, and hear all about her life as an indie business owner living in Dorset with her husband and three gorgeous little people.
So when (and why) did you first start running up such lovely things on your sewing machine?
I first started sewing 15 years ago (yikes!) during secondary school on my mum's ancient sewing machine which I really enjoyed and it inspired me to go on to do Textiles at GCSE. I carried on sewing for fun in my spare time but the years went by and then babies came along and it ground to a halt temporarily. Once the babies became toddlers and sleep returned to our home (ish), I found that I longed to do something for myself again and started making simple clothes for the children which was about a year ago now.
Who inspired you to start the company and share your beautiful things with the world and how have you found the experience of running a start-up so far?
I've always dreamt about doing something creative as my job having had quite a serious and full on job prior to having my children. I loved my job but it was time for a change and it was my family and friends that encouraged me to think about selling my children's clothes. I've always struggled to find shop bought clothes for the children that I really like which is what led me to designing and making things for them myself. Having had 2 girls and a boy, I've also found it almost impossible to find clothes that could be worn by all 3 and I like to design and make clothes that both boys and girls can wear as not only does it save money, it reduces waste.
I've always loved making things for other people and the children and the appreciation from friends and family when they receive a handmade item has also been the thing that has encouraged me to start the Old Rectory Clothing Co. There's something really special about knowing that someone will be wearing something I've made as each item is a real labour of love.
What’s the best thing about running The Old Rectory Clothing Co.?
Work has to fit around the 3 children as 2 are at school and the littlest is at home with me. Starting the company has meant that I can choose when I do my work (even if it is at midnight!) Being able to design and create clothes in lovely simple and natural fabrics just brings me so much joy as children need to be comfortable and free to move about and play and I often find shop bought clothes can be a bit more restrictive. Old fashioned dungarees and rompers just encourage freedom and muddy knees plus you don't have to keep tucking vests in! This makes my mum happy no end!
And the worst?
I struggle to switch off and step away from my sewing machine. Evenings can get totally absorbed by sewing and my husband and I often pass like ships in the night. But this is something I'm learning to be more disciplined with...on the whole anyway.
What's the story behind your company name?
My folks and my husband and I bought an old rectory down in Dorset just over a year ago. It's the most beautiful 16th Century Rectory complete with stables, a coach house and well house which my parents are currently converting into their new home. It just felt fitting that the company name should incorporate the rectory in some way as it really has been such a life changing positive move for our family.
What do you get up to when you’re not busy creating your beautiful products?
Well being a mother to a 6, 4 and 2 year old keeps me constantly busy but I wouldn't have it any other way. We've had great fun moving into the rectory and starting our veg patch off and getting some chickens which has always been a dream of mine. I'm happiest pottering about at home with the kids and chickens mug of coffee in hand. We also live near the coast and can often be found by the sea which is where my surfing husband is happiest!
Thanks so much Elli.
Take a look at the beautiful new collection here and bring a bit of The Old Rectory lifestyle home with you!