Women Who MAKE: Elytra Textiles

March 1, 2016 Interviews 0 Comments

There are some talents that truly baffle me. It’s usually those left brain talents like spreadsheet aficionados that leave me in awe, and this weaving stuff is incredibly detailed and involves a lot of math!! It is no easy task to create a textile. I was fortunate to find textile artist and weaver, Chelcie Laggis, on (where else) Instagram. I was really impressed by the beauty, simplicity and timelessness of her designs. I had a vision for a black and white scarf/shawl and contacted Chelcie to see if she did custom work. Lucky for me, she was game to create the piece, and her amazing talents and unique work space needed to be shared! Continue on to read the interview with Pilsen, Chicago based Chelcie of Elytra Textiles.

See the last photo below for stunning finished scarf!

All photography by Carolina Mariana.

Women Who MAKE Interview – ELYTRA TEXTILES

Name: Chelcie Laggis
Age: 29
Current title/company name: Owner of Elytra Textiles Years in operation: 3

What is your first memory of making [art]/being creative?

I grew up thinking I had zero artistic ability because I couldn’t draw figuratively. I was deep into music throughout high school and college. In fact, I first went to school for vocal jazz. I decided it wasn’t for me, and I took a break from school to work as a manager and buyer for a great shop in Lakeview ‐ Twosided. This is when I began to create, and from those first experiments, I was hooked. I was creating collages, string art, and mixed media pieces for the first time at 20 years old. They were pretty terrible, but I’m just glad I began to create at all. It was then I decided to go back to school, and a few months later, I was attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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How did your education or past work experience give you the confidence to go out on your own as a small business owner?

I’ve worked at multiple small shops in Chicago as a sales associate, manager, and buyer. These work experiences played a huge part in believing I could have my own business. I was meeting fellow Chicago makers, and they inspired me keep moving forward. I had idolized these entrepreneurs for years, and working with them directly made me realize they were normal people who had a drive and passion to just do what they love. They gave me the confidence to take my first steps.

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Tell us about the process of launching your own business. Best parts? Biggest challenge?

It has been a very slow process for me. Because I haven’t been in the position to financially dive into being a full‐time maker yet, I juggle a day job in addition to the hours I put into my business. Not being able to take that leap has definitely been the biggest challenge because it’s how I want to spend my days so badly.

The best parts have simply been the positive reaction to my work, and accomplishing what I have so far: being in multiple Renegade Craft Fairs, Dose Market, and many more to come in 2016.

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What is your favorite part of the creative process? What inspires you and why?

My favorite part of my process is and (I believe) always will be the act of weaving. It keeps me going through both personal and business challenges, because for me, literally creating fabric thread by thread is satisfying, meditative, and healing. Every step in the weaving process is about counting and paying attention to detail. If you would have asked high school me if I would one day fall in love with such a meticulous art form, I probably would have laughed in your face. My biggest inspiration when creating is the process of healing. This sounds odd, but whether it’s healing from a trauma or just a disappointment, this process is damn hard. It’s a struggle, it’s a fight, then it’s an appreciation of the simple and the beautiful.

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What is the best advice you have for other female entrepreneurs?

Don’t rush! I’m so grateful that I waited to seriously start my business until I had a cohesive vision. My creations were all over the place just a few years ago (and sometimes still are), but I’ve reigned in my aesthetic. I think this has helped to build a recognizable brand, as well as create a customer base.

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Do you have a design philosophy, and if so, what is it?

Minimal is always better.

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Imagine your business in five years. How would you like to grow?

I definitely want to be working for myself full‐time within a year or two. Once that happens, I want to acquire more looms, hire additional weavers/seamstresses, and extend the product line to offer more garments.

Do you have a most popular item?

Any single loop infinity scarf in thin black or grey fabric. I have to agree…it’s so versatile!

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What do you enjoy most about the creative community here in Chicago?

I am so appreciative of the support that fellow Chicago makers offer. Since the moment I voiced an interest in starting my own business, I’ve received a ton of encouragement, advice, and inspiration. I also think the size of the creative community is wonderful ‐ large enough to continuously meet new makers, but not so huge that you feel lost or unrecognized.

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Centered by Design is my business name, but it’s also the idea that we can find a bit of sanctuary each day through design, that good design can center us and make us feel great. Does your design process center you in any way? If so, how?

My process absolutely centers me. Not only does weaving calm me and put me in a good mood, but I try to make my studio a warm and cozy environment. As someone who has significant anxiety, it’s important to pursue something that makes me feel like my strongest, most grounded self. Weaving gives me confidence, and textiles are integral to my favorite moments: wearing a scarf while drinking beer with friends on a patio, or cozying up under a blanket.

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Chelcie’s Chicago Favorites:

Favorite spot to get inspired: Lincoln Park (the actual park). From the conservatory to the lily pool, there are so many nooks and plants and bugs that inspire me. I think being outside in general makes me more content than anything else. During that calm happiness, everything seems magical.

Favorite florist: Fleur Chicago in Logan Square. I could live in that shop, and I think the uniqueness of their flowers can’t be beat.

Favorite place to shop for home décor/furniture/thrift: Alapash New Home in Ravenswood. Plants, ceramics, AND textiles?! I mean, it’s kind of perfect.

Favorite place for coffee: Is it cheating if I say my apartment? My partner has taught me to be a coffee snob like him, and honestly my favorite cup of coffee is made from Intelligentsia beans, freshly ground and brewed in a French press, and enjoyed in our living room while listening to records. Otherwise, the Logan Square Intelligentsia is pretty special ‐ it reminds me of the wonderful coffee shops we found on a recent trip to Ireland.

Favorite place for a sweet treat: This is always changing, but right now it’s Doughnut Vault. I’ve been treating myself to their toasted almond donut with a latte every Monday during my lunch break. Not much tops a sweet treat with the bitter taste of coffee. Yum!

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Thank you so much to Chelcie for sharing her heartfelt thoughts and advice with us. Find more Chelcie HERE!

Thanks for reading along with Women Who MAKE. If you know a gal who would be a good fit for this series, let me know in the comments!

XO – CLAIRE