When Liz Rymar graduated from the University of Delaware in 2004, having majored in fashion merchandising, she moved to New York City with the intent of getting a job in the fashion industry. After working in different areas of the industry, the Huntingdon Valley, PA native realized that her passion was design and entrepreneurship was her destiny.
“I realized that there was a need for a truly affordable luxury fashion brand and this would be my opportunity to follow my passion,” said Rymar.
In hopes of filling that void, she set her sights on creating a line that would offer high-quality fashion items. When opportunity came knocking in 2007, it was dressed in the dapper downs of The Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC and the London College of Fashion in the UK. Fast forward two years later, Rymar and her sister, Laura, launched ellelauri. The ladies initially sold their line through specialty boutiques and their online store. In May 2013 the ladies opened their first brick and motor store in Avalon, NJ, and then—after a successful pop up shop–they followed up with a permanent Philadelphia store located the Shops at Liberty Place) in October of 2013.
In the interview below, Liz discusses how her entrepreneurial journey into the world of fashion began, the dynamics of a business partnership, ellelauri’s current success, and where the company is headed from here.
CC: How did your passion for fashion develop? I know your grandmother greatly inspired you, but what was it about fashion that made you want to dedicate your life to creating and shaping it?
Liz Rymar: My passion for design developed steadily over the years. I was always artistic and creative as a child, I would paint, draw and sew. In college I decided to focus on fashion merchandising because I liked the fact that the courses were heavy with business classes but I was able to take drawing, sewing and textile classes as well.
The passion keeps growing for me. When I meet a customer who chooses an ellelauri design that lets her express herself confidently in her career or personal life…I am grateful I can be a part of her success.
CC: So when and how was ellelauri conceived?
LR: I was studying in London in 2007 and traveling to many different places. I left New York knowing that I would be gathering information and inspiration from my time in Europe to start my line. I took tons of notes and photographs everywhere I went. I knew when I got back to NYC I was going to begin the process of starting my own business (while working full time). At a dinner party with friends, I was wearing a dress that I designed and their supportive enthusiasm was the spark that ignited my passion for design into a reality.
CC: Some of the greatest things come from the most humble of beginnings! Where did the name for your line come from?
LR: My sister and I were thinking of names that were unique to us. Ellelauri is a combination of our childhood nicknames. My brother would call me L and he called my sister Lauri so we spelled out the L and combined them together.
CC: I love that it has such a personal touch to it! One challenge that designers often face is the cost of manufacturing. How have you been able to keep your manufacturing stateside when so many other fashion entities go overseas?
LR: I was lucky to have made some really great contacts from working in the industry and I have been able to maintain and build upon those relationships over the years. I have remained loyal to the same factories while having added a few new ones. There is a big movement being led by well-known designers such as DVF to save the garment district in NYC and keep production here. Other designers like Nanette Lepore, Milly, Jason Wu and Anna Sui are also very involved. We love it because we are able to have more of a short lead-time for each season as well as keep an extremely close eye on detail and fit. Our production turnaround time is also really short compared to companies that produce overseas, so there are positive tradeoffs for production in the garment district though it is more expensive compared to overseas. Our margins are slim though, so as much as we would like to continue producing in the US this is a topic that keeps coming up.
– Sincerely Syreeta