Top: LaLove Designs Original
Necklace: Walgreens (Yes, you read right!)
Tonight I converted this blog into more of a website format. That meant taking down my ultra personal and really, really long “About Me” page and replacing it with a more concise and less emotionally charged summary of what LaLove Designs is as a company. I won’t lie. It stung a little bit. Why? Because I felt like I was letting go of the record of my progress and the battle cry that began this whole venture. I’ve come so far from sitting down with a vague determination to “get better at sewing” and not knowing where to start! This blog has spanned the whole LaLove journey and will continue to be a part of this website, but I feel like I need to memorialize what this started out as. I’ve accomplished so much in the past couple years and a quick glance at my current collections page will really put into perspective what I’m copying and pasting below. I know it’s a lot to read, so feel free to skip this one. I really just had to post this as a reminder to myself…a journal of sorts…a testament to what happens when you faithfully put one foot in front of the other and battle it out against the perfectionism that can hold you back.
The first section is my former “About Me” that I wrote soon after I started this blog- probably in late 2013/early 2014 and the “Update” is from around early 2015.
I’m Sarah LaLonde. I’m a fashion designer. By calling, not vocation.
I bet I’m not the only one in that boat. This blog is for all the creatives out there who ended up in some other industry, but desperately need to create. That desire and talent is inside of us; it won’t ever go away, even if we’ve abandoned it.
This is the story of the rekindling of my love for design. This is me struggling to fit in creative work whenever I can. With two children, a husband, a full time job, a two hour commute, housework, and the cutest, albeit, least coordinated cat in the world, how can I possibly make a difference in the fashion world?
I ended up back in the Hoosier state “temporarily” after design school. But after starting work for my family’s dealership, laying down roots here, and eventually starting a family of my own, New York or LA became an impossible dream. Sure, I’m all for an adventure. For fashion I would easily sacrifice small town values, extra cash, affordable housing, being able to live without having 6 roommates, and clean air. But I won’t sacrifice the quality of life I can give my children.
For us, Indiana just makes more sense financially. But you can’t just get a job in design here. And it’s an incredibly hard place to start your own line, not to mention selling it. Although it’s my passion, my dad drilled business logic into me since I could walk, and I can’t justify spending thousands and thousands of dollars to produce a line that has very little chance of selling. (There are tons of clothes in stores that retail at less than I could buy fabric for.) And, Um, also, I don’t have thousands and thousands of dollars.
Independent designers are at a tremendous disadvantage, no matter where we’re located. How can we compete with mass production prices? Quality is one way, of course, but people have become less and less willing to pay more for good quality. Quality today means, “It was only 12.99!” One amazing answer to fast fashion, I’ve recently learned, is localization.
I used to shudder at the thought of becoming “just a seamstress.” First of all, sewing is looked upon scathingly in the fashion industry, and secondly, being a seamstress doesn’t come with much money or any benefits. Over the last couple years, however, I’ve begun to see things differently:
As to the former reason for my aversion to dressmaking, why should I put any stock in the opinion of an industry that has thrown design and construction quality- not to mention American jobs, the environment, and ethical treatment of workers- under the bus for their tremendous bottom line? Why should I measure my success in fashion by their standard?
As to the latter reason, I already have an income: I have a job that I love! My grandfather built our business and it embodies his integrity and love for his kids and grandkids. He built something that future generations could make a living on. I feel compelled to replicate that using fashion, which also leaves me feeling torn between staying in my current career and pursuing fashion. But I’ve finally made my decision. I want both! I need both. I won’t be able to put in full time hours as a designer, and my contribution to fashion won’t be a conventional one. But. . . Why did I ever want it to be?
And thus, “LaLove” fashion is born.
I don’t know how I’ll fit it in. I don’t know where it will eventually lead. Heck, I don’t even know what types of clothing I’ll end up making. But I’m done not living in my purpose. I’m DONE not being a designer.
I’m Sarah LaLonde. I’m a fashion designer. And you can be, too.
I am now staying at home, and I knew I had to update this page to talk about that, but I didn’t want to delete the part above about working, because it describes my background and a lot of who I am. This is the first time it was feasible to make it off of one income and I was tired of seeing my girls for only two hours a day while also scrambling around to do chores, so I took the leap. Now I get to send them off in the morning and spend time after school. Life is a little less chaotic regarding schedule, but either way I was content. It reminds me of what Paul said in Philippians, how he could be content in ALL circumstances. That’s the part we don’t hear of the often-quoted “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” verse. Taken in context, he’s talking about how he can go through the good times and the rough, he can be okay with being full, and starving…and he had done plenty of both for the Lord.
When I was working for my dad, my schedule was crazy and that part was stressful, but I could clearly measure and define my success and pull in an income. During that season of my life, I thanked God for the good job and living, and I depended on Him to strengthen me through the times when I missed my kids or didn’t have much left over emotionally after work for them. Now I have time to spend with my kids and volunteer and grow this business, but there are other aspects that are stressful, like having to depend on design to eventually earn a living off of, and like I said above, that’s a very tough thing to do, especially in this state. (Luckily, there’s a small fashion industry developing here, and I very much hope to be a part of it. I would love to one day have a business where my children and family could work if they chose, just like the business my Grandfather started for us to be a part of.)
And now the part of my life I get to thank Him for is this extra time with my kids and the opportunity to develop a business from my passion and the talent He’s given me, and I’m really, really having to lean on HIM for strength to build something out of nothing when it looks so unlikely. I know the cards are pretty stacked against me in this journey to being able to make a living off of design in a place where there’s so little market for it. And the side of me that comes from a business background cringes! But I truly feel like this is what I’m meant to do right now. And I know I have Help. And I know that if this fails, I’ll be strengthened for that, too. Whether good comes my way or bad, I KNOW “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13