Today brings our first interview with one of our new sponsors of 2018 — La Mercerie! We were thrilled to get a few more sewing/fabric shops on board this year as sponsors. It can be great to walk into a huge chain fabric or craft store from time to time, but you really can’t beat the fantastic service and curated selection of an independently owned shop. Plus, who wouldn’t love to win some gorgeous fabric for their next project!? Kyla caught up with Jess – the woman behind the curtain – to learn a little more about how La Mercerie began and what she offers to her customers.
First up, tell us a bit about your shop. How and when did it start, where are you based, what kinds of products do you sell?
At La Mercerie, we sell fabric, yarns, patterns, and notions to help create a handmade wardrobe. We strive to carry unique products that you aren’t going to find everywhere else. We are an online shop, based just outside of Seattle.
La Mercerie really started around four years ago, in my garage. I sold sewing and knitting kits, but it was a side hobby to my full time job and I wasn’t able to invest the time or passion into it that I wanted to. About two years ago, my husband and I decided to move out of the city of Seattle and at that time, I was able to take a chance on the business and try to make La Mercerie a full-time commitment. The direction of the business started to head a different direction and instead of kits, we started selling fabric, yarn, patterns etc. – it became the shop you see today.
Ultimately, La Mercerie found its place out of the desire to continue to build a sense of community around sewing and knitting. I found a community I really connected with through social media and loved being a part of such a wonderful group of people. So when the opportunity arose, I wanted to contribute to it in a more substantial way. And so La Mercerie began in its current form!
What did you do before opening the shop? What made you decide to become your own boss?
Most of my career was spent working for Anthropologie. I started as a part-time associate and seven years later, left after being the store manager at one the Seattle stores. I learned so much from my time there – about running a business, how to create a cohesive aesthetic, and being a leader.
After leaving Anthropologie, I spent some time working at the corporate offices of a large retail company. While I learned some valuable information while I was there regarding retail, I didn’t agree with the corporate culture that it was built upon. It was during my time there that I realized that I really wanted to own my own business from start to finish. I wanted to be a part of something that I could stand behind wholeheartedly.
May we have a sneak peek behind the scenes at La Mercerie?
Behind the scenes at La Mercerie is our dining room! I run La Mercerie out of our home. Right now, it’s a one-woman-show, with my husband and my parents supporting me. And of course, our dog Finn is my daily sidekick as I run the shop.
A typical day starts out with coffee (what else?) while answering e-mails and printing shipping labels. Then I pack up orders and take a quick trip to the post office. If he’s lucky, Finn gets to come with me for a mid-day walk. In the afternoons, I work on getting new product ready to go in the shop or work on projects that need to be photographed or blogged. Of course, there’s a million other little things that work their way into the day, but those are the priorities!
What’s your favorite item (or items!) in your stock at the moment?
Oh man – The Avery Slub Linen Blend that we have right now just might be my favorite fabric we’ve ever carried! It’s the most amazing texture and weight. It’s the perfect staple fabric!
One of the things I think about when deciding whether or not to bring an item into the shop is if I can think of at least two or three projects I would want to make out of it. If I can’t, I usually pass on it. But I want to make EVERYTHING out of our Avery Slub Linen Blend!
Are there any exciting new items that just arrived or are coming soon to your shop that you’d like to share with us?
Earlier this year, I went down to LA to shop for some deadstock fabrics that won’t be found anywhere else. I found some really exciting coatings! I’d call them classics with a twist. So of course, now I can’t wait for winter to share some serious jacket inspiration.
Do you sew or knit or craft yourself? What do you enjoy making the most? Any recent projects you’d like to share?
I do! I sew and knit. I started both while in college and taught myself from books and YouTube videos. These days, I make probably 80-90% of my clothes. I share all of my makes on Instagram and on our blog! I think the one I’ve been wearing most often is the Wiksten Kimono Jacket (of course, made out of the Avery Slub Linen Blend).
There are countless beautiful makes floating around online made from the gorgeous fabrics and yarn from your shop. Care to share a few favorites that you’ve seen pop up?
Oh my gosh – thank you! I think the projects that I love the most are the ones that people get super excited about. Passionate people make me happy! For example, @jessamyb made an awesome pair of Lander Shorts in our Chino Twill and told me she’s been living in them all summer. And @sew.ashley made a special dress for a friend’s wedding out of our Dahlia Petal Crepe. She pushed herself with a pattern and fabric that were outside of her comfort zone, but the end result is stunning! But really, any time someone tags us in their project or e-mails photos of their makes, it warms my heart. I really couldn’t be happier doing what I get to do everyday.