Meet Holly Willis of Eddy and Scout
Originally started in Denver, our family and Eddy & Scout just relocated to sunny Orange County, CA. I’m a lover of warmth and sunshine and palm trees, so even though Denver was home to us for the last 18 years, this was a new page of our adventure, and so far I am loving it. Lucky for us, there are kids here too that love comfy and fun clothes, so business is going well here too!
What did you do before starting your own business?
I was a wilderness guide before becoming a mom, but after staying home with my son for several years, I re-entered the workforce in accounting and commercial real estate( I have a business degree) for another couple of years. Due to some personal illness that shook up my life and my ability to be at a computer all day, I decided to leave my desk job and pursue the one thing that I had never had the guts to even tell anyone I wanted to do, but that I knew I would regret if I did not pursue in this life: garment design.
How did you come up with your company name and why?
As a wilderness guide, I spent some time on the river. On the sides of the river, there are places where the rocks and obstructions actually cause a line, an “eddy line”, where the current flows backward. Pulling your boat into this spot is referred to as “eddying out”. It is normal to “eddy out” before a major obstacle, such as a tricky patch of rapids, and “scout” the line that you plan to take. When I began my business, *I* was at a point where I needed to “eddy out” and “scout” the new path that I was to take, and it struck me at the same time how crucial this “eddy & scout” process is in parenting. Really, what day of the week are we not taking the time to pull our children to the side, and helping them to navigate whatever adventure awaits them? It’s the joy and challenge of parenting, but exactly how we build our littles up to be capable big people!
What inspired you to start your own business and how did you start it?
Truly, there is nothing that puts life more into perspective than a life-threatening disease, and for me, I just could not conceive of living out my days in a soul-sucking desk job that I hated. I knew deep in my heart what I really wanted to do, and somehow the perspective of not living a “normal” 80-90 year lifespan lit a fire under me that each day needed to count, and that truly, life is just too short to not pursue your dreams. So I bought an expensive sewing machine and set to work.
Is there a specific tool you use that makes managing a business easier?
I use a paper planner called the “Panda Planner” that I found through a
What Were some of the learning curves of just starting out?
Just starting out, I knew that there were a few holes in my knowledge of the fashion industry, and learning who to trust to help me make wise decisions and help in the areas where I was weak proved to be more tricky than Ihad thought. I had a lot of missteps and folks that said they knew things that they didn’t, and many thousands of dollars spent in trusting contractors that did not fulfilltheir end of the bargain. It can be really depressing to come away feeling like you cannot trust others, but at the end of the day it has helped me to be more thorough in the way that I communicate my needs to people on my team, and honestly, to trust my own abilities.
What's it like being a business owner and mom, how do you schedule both?
I feel ill-equipped to answer this, because I feel like one NEVER actually arrives at a perfect balance all of the time. Starting my business after my child reached school age has definitely helped with this. Also, teaching my son that when he is home from school that he too, needs to write lists and prioritize the things that he would like to do with his day while I work, has levelled the playing field for us both. I also feel that this has given him an understanding that momma loves him, but that when we are in “work” mode, we do so with great focus, and afterwards, we can turn on the sillies and enjoy all of the “not work” things. Hopefully he'll remember these things someday in college too (fingers crossed).
What has been your greatest lesson in business and motherhood?
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurial mothers?
Follow through, determination, and refusing to give up on your dream will set you apart from anyone who is in this for a quick buck or in pursuit of a “fun” job that looks like a hobby. Make no mistake, if you have the passion and drive, this will feel fun, but you must be willing to work harder than you have ever worked before, go unpaid, receive criticism that will crush your spirit, and fight utter exhaustion without giving up. You will know that it is the right thing when you’ve walked through more challenges than you ever would put up with in a “normal” job, but you find yourself asking for more and unable to imagine being happier doing anything else.
What does a “normal” day in your home look like?
Wake up, get the kid to school in whatever I can pull on that will not scream that I’m still in pajamas to the folks in the dropoff line, get ready for my day, walk the dog, and get myself into the office before my cell phone alarm (the one that I refer to as the “get your butt in the office” alarm) tells me to. When I get into the office, my time with my planner tells me what the priorities of the day will be, and from there it usually feels like a sprint until I have to pick up my kiddo at school at 2:45. My days are filled with lots of sewing and logistics of shows and website stuff and patterning and sourcing for new lines. Once my kiddo is home though, I try to balance helping with homework and the eight billion questions my son has for me with trying to finish out the rest of a workday until 5. When I’m on my game, I stop at 5 and transition into making dinner and shuttling off to violin practice, and doing the evening routine and whatnot, but let’s be honest here, sometimes it is more like “Ohmygoodness, how did it get to be 7, and why do you guys need to eat EVERYDAY??” while I am still in the studio working. My husband has been truly flexible and supportive of whatever phase we are in, and even understands when I need to head back into my office after dinner to work until midnight. I would be lying to you if I told you that this was a rarity.
Besides business and your family, do you have any hobbies you love to enjoy (when you have the time)?
A girl can dream! I like to travel and spend time with friends. If I really have my way though, I just head back into my studio and do some “selfish sewing” (AKA, sewing that is NOT work). I have not done that in quite a while though.
I can't start my day without coffee. What's that one thing you need everyday to kickstart yourself?
Caffeine actually does not agree with me, but trying to keep structure in my mornings helps me to push through the “I could just slip into bed for a minute and nobody would know” feelings.
Who has been your greatest inspiration to you in your life and why?
I am oddly unable to answer this. I think that qualities that people show, such as selflessness, generosity, gratefulness, and kindness, all inspire me more than a specific person. I am inspired by people who allow these things to govern their daily interactions.
If you could travel anywhere or do anything in the world what would that be?
Honestly, I want so badly to go into the places where garment workers are taken for granted, and the cycle of poverty is being perpetuated through this industry. I want to be there to help turn the trajectory of this industry around. Itreally would not matter where-- Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, India-- anywhere that the women whose ability to be with their children has been stolen by the greed of fast fashion, and the unreasonable conditions of their labor situation. If I could bend God’s ear for an opportunity, it would be to give them a chance to use their talents in a way that they feel fulfilled, safe, empowered, and appreciated. Just the ability to look into the eyes of a worker who has been merely a faceless "cog" in this garment manufacturing machine, and to give them hope and the chance to dream for tomorrow and for their children. If there were some way that I could let them know that their lives mean something more than feeding the greed of fast fashion, and to provide them an alternative, THAT would be what I would want to do.
If your children learn one thing from you what would you wish that to be?
I want him to know that PEOPLE, not things are