Would you share with us about your life before Arrowroot and now?
My (now) husband and I grew up a few blocks away from each other in Little Rock, Arkansas. We started dating in high school, went to separate colleges and got married about a year after we’d both graduated 🙂 He’s a huge part of Arrowroot too! I’m a very creative person but not super business savvy or organized. He keeps the business on track and is head of our marketing and strategy in addition to having his own full time job. We’re also expecting our first little one in March and are SO excited!
He and I moved to Denver so that I could get a master’s in counseling at Denver Seminary. I worked in mental health for about a year, but just couldn’t shake the urge to start an ethical fashion line.
Congratulations on your pregnancy! I love that you spent all that time getting your masters and listened to your heart anyway. So cool!
Will you tell us about the moment you knew for sure you had to do something?
I was in college and spending my summer interning with Mi Esperanza, a non-profit that provides educational programs for women in Honduras. I remember sitting on a bus riding back from a work site and knowing that this is what i would one day do.
I wanted to use my love of fashion to create jobs for graduates of Mi Esperanza’s sewing school.
Have there been moments you second guessed that you made the right decision?
Starting your own business can be scary, stressful and discouraging at times. I’ve definitely had moments of wondering if I made the right decision to do this, but they don’t last for long.
I come back to the fact I would have always regretted not going for it, if I had chosen something safer.
Tell us all about your give-back model. How do you do good?
I design all the dresses Arrowroot sells and employ at-risk women in Honduras, Guatemala and most recently, Denver, to sew them. I do that by partnering with non-profits who provide free sewing classes and a work space for the women they educate.
I guess the best way I know how to say that people are confident in what we’re doing is the amazing response we’ve gotten in a little over a year of doing business. It was terrifying to just start up a shop from the ground up and of course, those first few momentous orders came from friends and family 🙂 It wasn’t long, though, before people from all over the US began placing orders!
It still feels like a miracle to me every time I get an order from someone I’ve never met.
I thought it would take years to build that kind of following but I think people are getting really excited about shopping responsibly and that shows.
What would you say sitting across the table from another woman who says, “Sure. But you had money saved up, a spouse who can support you, a business degree, a support system, a platform, etc… You’re brave. You’re fearless and I’m risk averse, I’m … fill in the blank.”
I’ve talked to this type of person before and the main thing I would say is this:
If you wait until you feel ready or like everything is in place, you will never do whatever it is you want to do. You just have to begin and figure it out as you go.
Is there a quote you have on your desk, your wall, or just stored in your heart that keeps you going or lifts your spirits when you’re down?
Yes. I have it framed above my desk. It’s line from a song that says, “Unless the Lord does raise the house, in vain its builders strive.” It reminds me that I’m not ultimately in charge and really frees me up to just do my best and trust God with everything else.
What are you the most passionate about regarding Arrowroot?
I want Arrowroot to be company that encourages women to really live their lives.
We employ at-risk women because we want to give them a chance to stop worrying about surviving and start really thriving. We design dresses for every day life to serve as a reminder as you’re getting dressed, that each day is worth celebrating.
Every day is worth celebrating! And you do it so well Elizabeth! It’s so beautiful that you pushed past conventional widsom of career and education to create beautiful change in the lives of women everywhere. You’re not only employing at-risk women in Honduras and Denver, you’re empowering every woman who slips on one of your gorgeous designs. Thank you!