In the Fold: An Interview with Rachel Aughtry of Rachel Elise
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THREEFOLD Gifts–as young as it is–has always had professional makers in-mind. We developed this business as a way to find more of a home in a world where we didn't have to compete with folks practicing the infamous side-hustle. Part of that reasoning is because we were surrounded by so amazing professional makers as young business owners in Texas. Rachel Aughtry was one of those makers.
We met Rachel at the beginning of her time as an entrepreneur nearly a decade ago, and we've been lucky enough to watch her handbag business, Rachel Elise, grow over the years. She and her husband, Bo, are great friends of ours. We relate on all of the important levels, business and non. We can't image better folks to introduce you to in our very first maker interview. 


How did you decide on your business name? It seems so personalized and friendly!
Our business name is Rachel Elise, which is my first and middle name. When I first started RE, I struggled with what to name it, so naming it after myself seemed simple enough. Also, my mom blessed me with a sweet name combo, so I figured I shouldn’t let that go to waste.

What caused you to start making bags?
I started the business when I was in college, studying art. I was in a zillion studio classes, but felt like all my “creative” projects were driven by deadlines and assignment parameters. I wanted to have a creative thing that something I simply wanted to do-- little did I know it would be my job (and my husband’s job!) ten years down the road.

Introduce us to your creative team!
It’s me and Bo, my husband. Plus the cats.

Where do you make your bags, and what's that space like?
Bo and I work from our home studio in Weaverville, North Carolina. Our house sits in the woodsy Blue Ridge Mountains, so we get to leave our windows open for natural light and free bird sounds. Our two cats hang out with us on the reg as well.

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How often do you find yourself in the studio?
We’re both full-timers, so we’re usually in the studio 8ish (or 9ish lol) to 5ish, Monday-Friday. We follow the Barbara Corcoran philosophy that taking a real weekend makes you a better human and a smarter worker.

Could you share a little about your average day of work?
My day is pretty much behind the sewing machine. We print together once or twice a week, but that usually just takes a couple of hours. Bo’s day varies a lot, but can include cutting fabrics, trimming threads (this seems like a ridiculous task, but trust me, it’s a thing), and shipping out orders.

What is your favorite way to creatively warm-up?
This is maybe the most boring answer ever, but organizing? (That’s such an non-artist answer, but I am what I am.) Making a to-do list or reorganizing materials gets me amped to tackle all the things and creates brainspace for the fun stuff.

Can you tell us a little about the making of your products?
If you insist! Bo cuts all our materials, I do most of the sewing/designing, and we tag-team screenprinting. Yes, we screenprint own our designs/fabrics because sewing them from scratch isn’t enough work on its own! ;-)

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What is something that you wish people knew about your business?
It’s a true team effort! I do most of our sewing, so sometimes people don’t understand the importance of Bo’s work for our buisness. But trust me, he’s a busy dude! There is so much more to a handmade business than just the obvious.

Which season is the most difficult for you, sales-wise? When is your busiest? How do you handle those highs and lows?
January to April-ish is our slow season. There’s a great appreciation for the art community in Western North Carolina, but a lot of that appreciation happens at craft fairs that start in May and go through the end of the year. But there always seem to be put-off projects for those early-in-the-year months!

How do you see your work or processes changing in the near future?
We already have some new materials in our possession that we’re super excited to include in our work later this year! But for now, it’s top secret.

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Which part of your process do you get the most satisfaction from?
Colors are my favorite! So combining new materials and fabrics is always the best.

If you could outsource any part of your current process, what task would you choose?
Making straps, hands down. Bo cuts them; I sew them. A lot of time and love goes into those suckers, and many of our customers don’t even realize it’s a component we make ourselves. But we do make them! With love! Even if we don’t love to make them ;-)

What motivates you to do what you do?
Being your own boss is an excellent lifestyle– you get to make what you want, when you want, can change it up when you need to, and can reward yourself with a break when you’ve earned it. I love to create and am so glad that’s my job, but maintaining autonomy is often the biggest motivator.

Do you have a favorite tool or technique that you love/can't do without?
My Juki industrial sewing machine is everything! Having the proper equipment to do what you need to do is imperative. But I also really really love the screenprinting process, partially hand-painting the screens. Swoon.

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Who has had the greatest impression on you as an entrepreneur?
My grandma. She owned a gift shop when I was a kid and has been a maker her whole life (though I don’t think she’d give herself credit for that). Her shop inspired me to also own a brick and mortar for a time, and her free spirit definitely encouraged me to go after what I really wanted in life.

What do you like to listen to while you’re working?
A mix of music, podcasts, and audiobooks. Thirty to forty hours of sewing a week is a lot of sewing-- you gotta mix it up! My favorite podcasts right now are 99% Invisible and Stuff You Should Know. And I also listen to a lot of politic garbage, but we don’t have to get into that ;-)

Let’s say that you find some spare time in your schedule… what do you like to do when you aren’t working?
Go outside! Bo and I are both native Texans but moved to WNC for the great outdoors. Hiking is definitely how we spend our weekends, and I try to spend some down time on our patio every day.

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Are there any specific makers or creators in general who you think our readers should be paying attention to?
Heck yeah! My friend Emile recently opened a brick and mortar workshop space called Wildflower Art Studio in Denton, Texas. I’ve known Emile for years and it’s been so cool to watch her develop Wildflower from a print/card company, to a series of workshops, to a DIY kit behemoth (seriously, she’s sold tens of thousands of art kits on Amazon), to running her own permanent workshop space with sold out classes. I love when makers can (seamingly) flow from one focus to another and still stay true to their mission and brand. It’s inspiring to see how people and businesses reshape over time.

What is your favorite thing about running your own business?
I love that I can change my schedule or what we’re making or how we’re making it just because I’m tired of doing it the old way. Flexibility is the best!

What advice would you give to future makers of all ages?
I JUST talked about flexibility in the last question, but seriously, be flexible! You aren’t locked in to one product or one style or one path. Change it organically as you see fit! Don’t limit yourself with too many rules. Rules are good (but so is breaking them!)

What’s one question that you wish we would have asked… and what is your answer to that question?
mmmmm maybe “What’s Bo’s nickname for himself in the studio?” The answer to which is Bo Elise.


Shop a selection of Rachel Elise bags at THREEFOLD Gifts, where you can find goods from 45 national professional makers!
Visit us every Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-6pm at 13339 Madison Ave. in Lakewood, Ohio.

 
Gift Guide: Father’s Day Presents

Let's talk about that guy over there... yeah, him. Dad. He's there for you 365/24/7, but on Sunday, Jun 17–Father's Day–he'll be the star of the show. Now let's talk about gifts... and how Dad likes gifts. So, if we do some simple math we come to the conclusion that Dad should probably get a gift on Father's Day. Why don't you be the one who gives it?

Gifts for The Active Dad

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Dad and his bike are inseparable... but on the off chance that you two decide to lock-up the Schwinn and opt for a walk through the park instead, this “Share the World” tee by Landry Print Co. can help continue to spread the message of two-tire traveling.


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While leather wallets are standard, we find the Tri Fold wallet from Forest City Portage to be a great animal and earth-friendly alternative! Made with durable, repurposed materials like sailcloth, these things are practically bulletproof.


Presents for The Bookworm

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It's nearly noon, so what's for lunch? Beef on weck, garbage plates, city chicken, goetta? Maybe some bakery or a cookie table to top it off. You look confused... not from round these parts, are ya? Brush up on your midwestern lingo with your very own copy of  How To Speak Midwestern from Belt Publishing.


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Dad's really smart. He has all these A+ ideas, but sometimes he–like the best of us–gets a touch forgetful. Encourage Dad's brainstorming with a “Really Frickin Good Ideas” notebook by Triple Threat Press. It fits perfectly in a shirt or jeans pocket, so he'll never forget to take it with him.


A Little Something for The Barmaster

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 The Dude wasn't a dad, but every dad really seems to want to be The Dude. Take him one step closer to realizing his dream of hanging with Walter and Donny with this “White Russian” Happiest Hour Print by Boundary & Thorn... it really ties the room together.


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Just as Mommy Dearest lost her marbles over wire hangers, something tells us that Dad wouldn't bee very keen to find water rings on his hard wood surfaces. Save us all the grief and get him a set of marbled wood coasters from Savvie Studio for the bar top... and maybe some Murphy's Oil Soap, too?

 


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Think back to a prior era, when Don Drapers and Gloria Steinams walked down the street... when conversation pits were all the rage and everyone was burning their mouths on fondue. The Essential Barware print by Sorry Studio would have fit right in. Gift dad one of his own, and garnish with a 2nd Shift Design Co. hanger frame for added finesse.


Goods For The Father with the Finer Things

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Whether your dad prefers the half windsor, four-in-hand, or the pratt knot... the one thing we can all agree on is that nobody appreciates getting beat up by their necktie. Windy weather or clear skies, a silver tie bar from Tiny Erica Jewelry will solve any issues of wardrobe misconduct.


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Fledgeling record collectors and professionals alike feel a bit weak in the knees when they catch a glimpse of the Minimal Record Rack by Prather Team. The portable tabletop rack is a must-have for any listening party or brunch DJing set. 



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Nicknamed "The boyfriend candle", the Black Process Collection Soy Candle from Triple Threat Press is scented with sweet, spicy, and smoky notes of tobacco and burnt clove. As an added bonus, the wood wick crackles lightly, like a tiny campfire for the indoors... which means that you get to skip the bug spray.


You can find all of the above gifts–plus goods from 45 national vendors–at Threefold Gifts. Visit us at 13339 Madison Ave. in Lakewood, Ohio, Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-6pm

 
Gift Guide: Father's Day Cards

Father's Day is June 17. That's two weeks away... no, less than two weeks! Our love of stationery makes us particularly helpful this time of year, because we know that you don't have a card yet. Well, do you? We didn't think so.


For the dad who also happens to be your best friend:

 Words can't describe how great it is when your BFF also happens to be the source of your second X or Y chromosome... but  Triple Threat Press  does a pretty good job of summing it up.

Words can't describe how great it is when your BFF also happens to be the source of your second X or Y chromosome... but Triple Threat Press does a pretty good job of summing it up.

 Show us a dad who doesn't love puns, and we'll show you this  Shawna Smyth Studio  card... knee-slapping dad jokes for everyone!

Show us a dad who doesn't love puns, and we'll show you this Shawna Smyth Studio card... knee-slapping dad jokes for everyone!


For the dad whose love is [seemingly] limitless: 

 Does Daddy-o dig tacos? How about Korean BBQ? Pad See-Ew? If the answer to any of those questions was "yes", then your dad probably has a thing for hot sauce.  Triple Threat Press  has set you up for the end-all, be-all of greeting cards... made for folks just like your fiery father figure.

Does Daddy-o dig tacos? How about Korean BBQ? Pad See-Ew? If the answer to any of those questions was "yes", then your dad probably has a thing for hot sauce. Triple Threat Press has set you up for the end-all, be-all of greeting cards... made for folks just like your fiery father figure.

 Sometimes life gets tough. A really good hug is scientifically proven to release oxytosin and relieve stress... and you can bet your butt that Papa Bear knows how hugs can heal. Gift this  Shawna Smyth Studio  card to dad and you're guaranteed another hug or two before the day is through!

Sometimes life gets tough. A really good hug is scientifically proven to release oxytosin and relieve stress... and you can bet your butt that Papa Bear knows how hugs can heal. Gift this Shawna Smyth Studio card to dad and you're guaranteed another hug or two before the day is through!


For the new/unsuspecting dad:

 Is there a nine month countdown in your future?  Triple Threat Press  has your father-to-be in mind with their gender-neutral stork stationery. 

Is there a nine month countdown in your future? Triple Threat Press has your father-to-be in mind with their gender-neutral stork stationery. 

 Maybe the dad in your life doesn't know that he's a dad yet. Rather than wrap-up your pee stick, we recommend this  Letterpress Jess  card instead... it's significantly more sanitary!

Maybe the dad in your life doesn't know that he's a dad yet. Rather than wrap-up your pee stick, we recommend this Letterpress Jess card instead... it's significantly more sanitary!


For the dad who goes above and beyond:

 The female of the species may be more deadly than the male... but papa seahorse carries his little critters on his belly for the length of their gestation! This  Triple Threat Press  card isn't just stationery, it's also a biology lesson!

The female of the species may be more deadly than the male... but papa seahorse carries his little critters on his belly for the length of their gestation! This Triple Threat Press card isn't just stationery, it's also a biology lesson!

  Allie Biddle  knows that plant dads are dads, too! Give your guy with the green thumb a card. He works hard so that his cactus can have a better life.

Allie Biddle knows that plant dads are dads, too! Give your guy with the green thumb a card. He works hard so that his cactus can have a better life.


 

You can find all of the above cards–plus gifts from 45 national vendors–at Threefold Gifts. Visit us at 13339 Madison Ave. in Lakewood, Ohio, Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-6pm.

The Story of Threefold Gifts
 

Hi friends! So glad to see you here. We are Laura Drapac and Dave Koen, owners of THREEFOLD Gifts and Triple Threat Press. THREEFOLD Gifts is our latest retail foray–a brick-and-mortar shop opening Summer of 2018 at 13339 Madison Ave. in the east end of Lakewood, Ohio.

At THREEFOLD, we're proud to sell well-made handmade items for your life and home. Our mission is to help independent makers grow their businesses & earn a living from their talents and trades. THREEFOLD's vendors are all professional small businesses owners, but not only that, they're members of a community of makers creating with a conscience. Our makers know that THREEFOLD customers deserve to own products that look good and make them feel good about buying them.

With the opening of THREEFOLD Gifts, we figured that now would be a great time to reflect on how we got to this point... and hopefully speak a bit about what the future holds.

The THREEFOLD story begins with the birth of Triple Threat Press. We had moved to Texas in August of 2009 so that Laura could attend grad school at the University of North Texas. After graduating in May of 2012, Laura–who was working as an adjunct professor at the time–lost access to the school's printshop and needed a place to make her own artwork. We spent that summer finding, purchasing, and restoring a Kelsey Excelsior letterpress that had been stored for years in a barn. The press was so rusty that it wouldn't even close, and had to be completely disassembled and cleaned before we could even think about pulling a print off of it. The press was ready to go by September and since the holidays were coming up we decided that we should make some holiday cards as a way to pay for the press restoration and needed supplies. We applied for and were accepted to the Etsy Denton Handmade Harvest based on greeting cards that we printed out on our inkjet printer while we waited for ink and rollers for our letterpress to arrive. At our first show we had nine products on display: six holiday cards and three hand bound notebooks. We barely made enough to pay for our booth fee, but honestly... that really didn't matter. People came out to support us, and we were ecstatic.  Triple Threat Press was born.



Shortly after our first event, Etsy Denton changed their name to the DIME (Denton Independent Maker Exchange) and opened their own brick and mortar store just a few blocks south of the Denton Square. Run by co-founders Shelley Christner and Rachel Aughtry, The DIME Store was a year round extension of their events where buyers could shop with several local, handmade vendors all in one place. For their grand opening weekend invited us to create a chalk mural of our "Welcome to Denton" postcard on their wall. Laura was their first–and, for a time, only–employee, where she learned all of the ins and outs of organizing inventory, paying-out vendor earnings, merchandising, vendor relations, and event planning.

During this same time, Dave was working two blocks away at Mad World Records, a record store owned by Mark & Maria Burke. Dave had spent years working in retail and at his family's transmission shop but it wasn't until Mad World that he got his first taste of small business retail. An avid record collector, Mad World was was also the perfect combination of his inventory management, merchandising, and customer service skills. He soon became a key holder and began honing his quick thinking abilities through computer malfunctions and the day-to-day difficulties of running a small business.

Through these two businesses we were able to form so many great relationships and do work for–and with–some of our best friends. Through the DIME Store we collaborated with Carrie Crumbley at Resoycled Candle Co to create a line of candles based on the smells of the printshop, and had our Denton Courthouse coaster design put on a t-shirt by Sarah and James at Dozy Dotes Totes. When Atomic Candy opened just down the street from Mad World, Dave was an instant fan and quickly befriended the owner, Tim Loyd, as they bonded over their shared love of rusty junk and old cars. Tim was also always game for whatever crazy designs we came up with and had us create several ads for festival programs and newspapers. We were also tapped by Mark Burke to design and print a poster for Mad World Records' two-day, five-year anniversary show. We printed the two-color design on the backs of old album covers that he donated. Triple Threat Press offered us several more amazing opportunities, including letterpress printing business cards for renowned sign painter Sean Starr, creating a custom letterpress-printed album cover for Fishboy, and representing the City of Denton by holding a day-long live printing demo at SXSW.



By May of 2016, our time in Denton had run its course. We were looking to move Triple Threat Press out of our house, or at the very least into a house that we owned. It just didn't seem like either of those options would be a possibility in Texas. So, we packed up the presses and moved home to Cleveland, Ohio. When asked what we would be doing in Cleveland, our typical response was, "figuring it out!" Almost immediately Laura stepped into the event coordinator position at the Cleveland Flea, a job that was an ideal continuation of her work at DIME. Dave continued the work of Triple Threat Press and moved it into a studio in Slavic Village, which allowed for the acquisition of a larger floor model press from Keith and Jamie at the Cranky Pressman. Laura has since left The Cleveland Flea to pursue our goal of growing Triple Threat Press into a full-time job for us both. Just this year we've managed several large projects for ourselves already, including designing the new logo for Slavic Village's community dinner event The Village Feast, working with Habitat for Humanity Greater Cleveland's ReStore to print and sell greeting cards featuring donated cuts that will raise funds for the non profit's area projects, and designing a logotype for our friends at the West Side Market Tenants Association that honors the historical building which houses their businesses.

So, here we are in the Spring of 2018... and we think that now is the perfect time to combine our loves of and experience in running small, local, handmade businesses. THREEFOLD will open June of 2018, and will proudly host the products of over 40 amazing independent makers and designers, not to mention serve as the home base for Triple Threat Press' operations. We've decided to open our brick-and-mortar shop in Lakewood, Ohio–a place that prides itself on it's walkability and unrelenting support for small business. It also happens to be the city that we call home. Our hope is that we can bring together the best handmade businesses, give them a place to sell year-round, and allow them to earn a living on their talents and trades.  We also want to foster relationships between makers in Cleveland and beyond, encourage collaboration on new products, share information about upcoming local and regional shows, and serve as a hub for any maker looking for a hand.

There will undoubtedly be challenges ahead, but nothing worth doing is ever easy. We are excited and ready to embark on this journey. We're so glad that you're coming with us!

Best wishes, 

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