Without role models to guide her, self-taught fashion designer Wendy Mullin of Built By Wendy went from selling her handmade dresses in her front yard to owning four stores across the U.S., running a successful clothing label, collaborating on pattern designs for Simplicity and authoring the Sew U book series. As part of Etsy’s Handmade Portrait series, Wendy took time out of her busy schedule to talk with us about how she’s built her business from scratch. Her sense of style and process are rooted in making garments by hand, and though she’s not an Etsy seller, Wendy’s beginnings are similar to many handmade clothing makers getting their feet wet in businesses on Etsy. Her passion, hard work and drive got her where she is today.
Wendy did a lot of drawing, arts and crafts as a kid living in the Chicago suburbs. Her mom, a seamstress, saw that she had an artistic tendency and encouraged her to explore. In high school she focused her creative energy toward photography and video, but with a sewing room back at home, she always found herself making things. During college in Kansas in 1989, Wendy started selling her handmade clothing in record shops where she worked.
After moving to Manhattan and showing her work at Steven Alan’s showroom, Wendy got quite a bit of press for her clothing and guitar straps. She now has shops in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Los Angeles and San Francisco. If you like clean lines with a bit of fun nostalgia, you should have a look at her collection at Built By Wendy.
If you’re into how-to books, join us on Monday, July 21, 2008 in the Virtual Labs to meet Crafty Mama author Abby Pecoriello. More details here.