We are thrilled to bring you our next success story, one of our very favorites: Ellen Allen, founder of the accessories brand Ellen Allen Annapolis. You all know how much we love Ellen's collection, and we were excited to be able to ask her about her inspiration, favorite pieces and how she balances it all. Check out our interview below and shop Ellen's collection here.
HSS: The pieces you create are so chic, as well as fun and versatile. Where do you find your inspiration for your designs?
Ellen Allen: My inspirations are driven by all things functional and polished. In my quest for glamour or grace in my messy life, I want things to look good. If it holds everything I need, and it makes me look fixed, and the inevitable coffee spill is an easy cleanup, then that's what inspires me.
HSS: Are there any products that you would love to add to your collection in the near future?
EA: Of course!! I'd love to have everything for home, resort, entertaining, and more. Some of these are in the works already! It's important for me to keep these new things tightly edited so that Ellen Allen Annapolis stays special and unique.
HSS: Do you have a favorite piece in your collection at the moment? Do you have a favorite color to work with when you're developing new designs?
EA: Oooh. Tough. I'm torn equally between the Oxford clutch and the Eastport tote. I love both and I'm not sure which one I'd grab in an emergency. So versatile and functional...and they both carry everything I need. Dinner at the club means lipstick, phone, keys, money - everything fits in the clutch. Resort vacation or soccer practice or on the boat - EVERYTHING fits in the Eastport. I really can't pick a favorite.
Navy. Everything works in navy. It's our signature color and the basis of our brand. Everything works off that. If it doesn't look good in navy, it won't look good in anything.
HSS: How do you balance family and continuing to grow and develop Ellen Allen Annapolis as a company?
EA: I don't. There is no balance. I just strive for harmony. Balance is a crock, right? You are never doing what you "should" and I don't participate in guilt. I reconcile reality with the dream and just get ok with making it look like that. At the end of the day, I have to know that I did my best with what I had. I'm learning to let that be ok. My family is at the core of my life and if they're ok, then everything else can follow. If they're not ok, I can't do anything.
Starting a company is like growing up a child. You focus on the biggest, most immediate needs all the while you look at the big picture. I try not to let myself get pulled in too many directions and try to focus on what's critical. Some days I'm a hero, other days I'm a zero. It is incredibly helpful that my husband is involved in everything from the strategy to order fulfillment. My kids help count inventory and make forts out of boxes. Everybody wins.
HSS: What brings happiness, success and style to your life?
EA: Order. I like organization and getting enough time to myself. Having the time alone gives me the space to be creative. I'd add that grace, beauty, and fun do the trick as well. Things need to look lovely - clean surfaces and flowers and a candle and the goal is knowing the linens are pressed and all of the trappings of a graceful life are there...even if I am the one spilling my drink.
My goal is to live in the moment. When the kids get home at 4:00, there are not business meetings or budgets or work calls happening. I am there for them and that matters. They might argue differently--the laptop is open and the phone is ringing but I try!