Ellsworth + Ivey is a high quality and custom sweater brand that includes the ultimate “twinning” collection exclusively on their website via a “mommy and me” option. Using their customizable platform, you can create matching pieces for mothers and kids for $336.00. A non-custom women’s knit from the collection is $188 while a children’s sweater is $148. Sweaters will be available to customize in multiple colors and fonts (block and script) and will deliver 4-6 weeks from order date.
Founder Taylor Ivey started the company in 2012 with a simple NANTUCKET sweater and has since grown exponentially. She recently discussed her brand via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in fashion and what appeals to you about sweaters in particular?
Taylor Ivey (TI): I was never a “fashionista” – honestly, I was far from it (and probably still am). My desire to start a clothing company came about in college from a lack – not being able to afford the clothing I wanted. I had always been very creative, I loved making art and I loved crafts like sewing, etc. So, I started to design my own clothing line and attempt to make the clothing myself. To be honest though, it was pretty difficult to sew your own dresses without any training in pattern making – so most of them ended up in the trash! After I graduated college, I moved to NYC and I took a night class at Parsons to learn pattern making and manufacturing basics, which really helped! My original idea was to start a line of dresses, but as you can from my next answer – limited capital made that impossible so I started with a single cape design instead!
The sweaters were kind of random! I had been making fisherman knit style sweaters in Peru at the time of opening my first retail store (I own two retail stores called The Skinny Dip) on Nantucket. I had become sort of obsessed with vintage style sweaters and was inspired to make one that said NANTUCKET on it. I had no idea it would become such a staple on the island. After its popularity, more and more stores started to reach for me to make custom sweaters with other locations on them/sayings and it sort of just grew from there! Sweaters are a great staple; they are cozy and comfy and an incredible gift with a pretty universal fit – the perfect product for us!
MM: How did you get the idea for Ellsworth + Ivey and how long did it take to design your catalog?
TI: Ellsworth + Ivey was originally inspired because I saw a void in the fashion market for a style I loved – capes. This was over nine years ago – before the came back into style. I was 22 at the time and so naive that I didn’t really think too much about it – ignorance can be bliss! It took me about nine months to launch, since I started with a single product and they were made to order, it was much faster/easier to launch then if I had to create an entire collection and pay/sit on inventory! Plus, I only had $5,000 to start with and so I didn’t have the money to heavily invest in a “launch” of any kind…honestly, I sort of just winged it! I didn’t start to make sweaters until five years ago, when I opened my first retail store on Nantucket – as you might guess, my first sweater was a NANTUCKET sweater! I wanted to create classic pieces that were timeless and could be worn at any age.
MM: What made you decide to start the Mommy and Me series?
TI: Since I started making the NANTUCKET sweater 5.5 years ago, I get emails weekly from customers asking if they can make their own one-of-a-kind sweater. Sadly, I could never offer that because our minimums were too high. For the past four years, I have been trying to launch our custom program and have been working with so many factories to try to get it off the ground – it wasn’t until last Fall that I finally found someone to partner with me on it. What really pushed me to finally launch the program was the birth of my niece, Izzy. I made her own sweater with her name on it and it was the most adorable sweater I’ve ever seen (I’m totally biased, I know). The reaction from my sister-in-law and brother when I gave it to them was so wonderful that I wanted to share that experience with others!
MM: What’s the best fan feedback you’ve gotten about your clothes so far?
TI: I don’t remember any particular feedback on my clothing, but my sweaters are very frequently pictured in holiday cards! Typically, it will be an entire family, or just the kids, wearing all of our sweaters and it’s SO rewarding to see! As our custom program grows, I’m particularly excited to see all of the images of newborns in our sweaters or special announcements like pregnancy or engagements. I think being a part of these special moments will be the most rewarding part of my business.
MM: What items are your best sellers?
TI: Our NANTUCKET sweater, which was the first sweater I made with a name on it, continues to be my best seller! Followed by our ASPEN and MONTAUK sweaters!
MM: How do you hope your brand evolves over the next five years?
TI: I would like to continue to grow our custom business and expand to new style offerings! I also make a ready-to-wear collection I sell exclusively at my stores. I haven’t had the bandwidth to offer it to other retailers, but I think over the next year I will be able to and I’m excited to share that collection with a larger audience!
MM: Are you working on anything else right now and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
TI: I also own two retail stores called, The Skinny Dip! One is on Nantucket and the other is in Palm Beach – make sure to stop by if you’re in the area!