Happy Feature Friday!
This week we’re featuring knitwear, accessory and graphic designer Laura Elisabeth! If you’ve ever found yourself looking for a warm, chunky and stylish scarf look no further than MO&PEA. Her Etsy store is filled with comfy goodness. She also does custom orders. How often do you get to request a knitwear dream you see in your head to a designer who’ll make it for you! To hear more about Laura’s creative journey read on!
: Tell us a little about yourself.
: My name is Laura Elisabeth. I create knitwear accessories and home decor. I’m also a Web and Graphic Designer and student. I currently live in CT with my boyfriend and our cat, Matcha. When I’m not crafting, I love to read, drink tea, or play Animal Crossing.
: How did MO&PEA get started?
: MO&PEA became its own brand in August of 2014. Prior to that, I was selling seasonal accessories through my sister’s brand, Mila Rose Designs. I felt confident enough to branch out on my own last year and continue to thrive and learn about running my own small business.
: What about knitting, crocheting and sewing do you love?
: I love it when I can take an idea that I have floating around in my mind and physically create it. I have always loved working with my hands (and was a barista for 6 years as proof). I love purchasing skeins of yarn and knowing that I can turn them into beautiful and functional pieces of wearable art. I have been crocheting and knitting for over six years now, so it just feels like such a natural process to me. I only began sewing in 2015 and I love the challenges of learning a new skill.
: You run, design and create for your Etsy store. What are some of the benefits and challenges of doing it all?
: The biggest benefit is that I can make my brand look and feel exactly the way I want it to. I don’t have to ask anyone for permission and I have complete freedom in what I design and how I present it to potential customers. I’d say my biggest challenge with running a small business is time management. MO&PEA is a full-time job for me, but is competing with being a full-time student and also working as a graphic designer for a small tile company during the weekdays. The work I do for MO&PEA rarely ever feels like work, though, because creating helps me to unwind from the other stresses.
: Do you have a go-to staple you love to wear from your collection or a favorite bestseller?
: My new staple piece for this upcoming season is my Kauri beanie. It is a cable knit fitted beanie with two large pom poms on the top which look like little bear ears. The design for this hat was actually presented to me by a customer wanting a custom creation and so I put my own spin on the photographs she sent me, and the Kauri beanie was born! It’s super cute, unique, and also keeps you warm. What could be better?
: What inspires the designs of your pieces?
: I’m most inspired by simplicity and functionality. I’d love for all of my pieces to feel like they can be worn by many different people with many different styles.
: You take custom order requests. What was one of your coolest custom pieces to work on?
: I’m actually working on a pretty cool one this week! A customer requested a super slouchy knit beanie (and I mean, REALLY, slouchy) with a brim/visor, satin lining, and two pom ‘ears’ near the front. It is by far the most challenging custom order I have received so far, but I am loving that I can push myself to get it done, and I know it will look pretty stinkin’ cool when it’s finished.
: Are you a self-taught knitwear designer or were you taught? What were some of the ways you improved and honed your craft?
: I am entirely self taught. I first taught myself to crochet about six years ago through Youtube videos. Then in the last year or so I also taught myself how to knit. The best way to improve any craft, really, is to practice consistently and push through mistakes. There were many instances where I needed to start a project over, and at the time, it really sucked to have to pull it all apart but you learn to not make that mistake again!
: 20% of your proceeds from MO&PEA go directly to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Tell us a little about why this cause is important to you and your brand.
: My dad was actually diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease a few months ago. Since hearing the news, I have already participated in one Parkinson’s Awareness Walk and was able to raise over $1,000 for the cause. I really wanted to continue to raise money towards finding a cure so I decided to donate a portion of all MO&PEA sales to the foundation.
: Do you have advice for future designers out there?
: My biggest piece of advice is to continue crafting/making art/designing even if at first it seems to not be making you money or getting much attention. If you have a genuine love and passion for creating, the right people will come along and appreciate what you do, and it is totally worth it when that does eventually happen.