AMERICAN MADE: Columbia lady incited passion into job

November 24, 2014 - fall Denim

COLUMBIA — It all started with whales. Ashley McCally was a new mom, and her daughter, Lily, asked for one.

McCally had seen fondle whales finished from denim online, sketched a pattern and stitched one adult from a span of jeans.

It was a start of Lily and Gus, a home-based business in Columbia offered domestic toys, dolls, witty T-shirts and tot onesies.

The online emporium sells some-more than 20 pressed animal designs, including bunnies, whales, elephants and puppies. Almost all are finished from repurposed fabric McCally finds during garage sales and preservation stores.

Now in a third year, a business was announced a finalist in a 2014 Martha Stewart American Made competition.

American Made seeks out artistic entrepreneurs who have founded successful internal businesses around handmade products. Lily and Gus was entered in a qualification category, one of 4 groups that also enclosed food, character and design.

Two other Columbia businesses were nominated — Twoality, run by twin sisters who make illusory liners for transparent sleet boots; and The Bead Gallery, a studio on Orr Street run by valuables engineer Jessica Otterbacher.

The 31 American Made winners were selected by renouned opinion out of an strange pool of some-more than 3,000 artisans, cooks, gardeners, weavers and designers. The final preference was announced progressing this fall.

Repurposed items

Lily and Gus was named after McCally’s daughter and their dachshund, Gus. McCally calls Lily her muse.

She creates all of her equipment from repurposed materials. She and her daughter director garage sales and estate sales around Columbia, as good as secondhand stores. Friends and family also send her hand-me-downs.

“We customarily hang to wool, string and cashmere. Anything that strikes a fancy,” McCally said.

She uses denim for some-more structured animals, like whales and rhinos. Sweaters are cut and sewn into bunnies to keep them soft; coverlet bits spin incomparable animals like elephants. McCally even finished a dachshund for Lily from a span of men’s nap pants.

“I keep all around a house,” she said. “I found a reindeer symbol and wondered when we would ever use it, though it was ideal for a doll we finished Lily.”

Prices count on a pattern of a animal. Small whales sell for $35; incomparable toys cost around $80. The normal cost is $60. 

Customers can also send their possess fabric. A few have sent troops fatigues to spin into an animal for a child with a primogenitor deployed overseas. The fatigues can be customized to embody a name on a uniform and a slot to keep a design of a desired one.

Worldwide business

The business has stretched to embody orders from all over a world, including Australia, Hawaii and Japan.

“I’ll uncover Lily on a map where a fondle is going,” McCally said. “The animals transport places we haven’t even been yet.”

A month after a initial whale, McCally began offered her designs on in time for holiday shopping, and she pronounced they sole fast She still uses Etsy, though many of her sales start by her possess website.

She has also sole her equipment by Plume, a space for homemade products off Route K in Columbia. Owner Kelly Gilion has called it “a internal Etsy store,” though McCally now restricts her sales to online orders.

She collaborates with other qualification businesses she finds online. Her mom and grandmother taught her to sew, though McCally has networked with others who work with fabric and other materials.

She met Shanna Torres by Etsy and began articulate about ideas to incorporate her tie-dyed pieces with McCally’s designs.

“She sends me her fabric to incorporate in my toys,” McCally said.

Torres pronounced she has found in McCally a consanguine spirit.

“We started articulate by emails, and we brought adult a thought of regulating my tie color on her whales,” Torres said. “One whale led to another. We have finished several collaborations and cranky marketing.”

A mother’s organisation in Australia, for example, has requested 36 sea horses with relating tradition rainbow element that Torres made.

“One of a biggest things I’ve schooled is that we didn’t have to know all in a beginning,” McCally said.

She pronounced a American Made Contest has also helped her make connectors and indurate her name in a crafting world. She has been a finalist all 3 years she was nominated.

“People have been really supportive,” McCally said. “The village rallied around me.”

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