Today we want to get to know Ellie Lum, founder of Portland, Oregon based Klum House, a little better. Originally founded as a sewing education and handcrafted goods brand, Klum House grew to emphasize unique sewing workshops, home sewing patterns, and high-quality hardware kits. Over the next couple of years, Klum House built a following with those seeking high-quality sewing and handcrafted goods education. Ellie is not just focused on helping you create beautiful finished products, she also wants to help you take a break from the computer and get lost in the flow of making through the tactile experience of working with your hands. She is determined to change the way people perceive the value of handmade items, in order support the growth of an alternative economy and we have a tremendous amount of respect for her and the amazing business she has built.
Ellie will be teaching her Fremont Tote Workshop here at Fancy Tiger on October 20th. Learn from the master as even beginner stitchers become bag-sewing experts and leave with a sleek, utilitarian, well-designed tote.
How did you get started sewing?
My mom taught me how to hand sew at a very young age. I must have been 5 years old. I learned how to machine sew when I was about 11 years old. I used to make my own clothing & even hand stitched my 6th-grade graduation dress. Then, when I was 17 years old I started my own custom messenger bag company called R.E. Load bags. We made everything in-house and I manufactured custom bags for almost 20 years. Fast forward to Klum House, my current endeavor — and sewing is still such a big part of my life.
You started out selling custom made bags before you launched Klum House. What inspired you to make the jump into teaching and pattern design?
I really enjoy teaching sewing, because it can be so empowering & confidence boosting for folks to make something with their own two hands from start to finish. I love watching that transformation happen. The patterns & kits were a natural progression for me as a product offering. I knew that all the products that Klum House offered needed to be education based, since that is our main mission —to empower people to make beautifully designed handcrafted bags —with bragging rights!
Do you remember the very first thing you ever sewed?
The very first things I ever stitched was a napkin. My mom taught me how to do a double-turn hem around all the edges and hand sewed it with a running stitch, I was about 5 years old.
What does a typical day look like for you?
There’s no typical day around the studio! It can range from teaching a few private lessons on the industrial or home sewing machines to lots and lots of meetings with my team or a solid design day in the studio developing a new pattern & class. I like to mix it up. Running a making-based business is so dynamic & I love the continual engagement in all the aspects of the business —from making to marketing!
Does Winston come to work with you every day?
Winston comes to work most days. He loves to sleep at our feet while we busy away with the studio tasks. His favorite spot to nap is in a tote bag that has a blanket in the bottom of it.
What is next for Klum House?
I am really getting excited about teaching my Bag Making Design/Sew intensives. It really is a chance for me to share my full skill-set with folks. People travel from all around to join the intensives & it’s so great to get to know folks & help them develop their skills when they are at that point in their making journey. The other thing we are excited about is just continually releasing solid, well-designed bag patterns. There’s lots on the horizon!