Linell Ellis is a full time luxury handbag designer, wife, mother and philanthropist. This woman is as strong as they come. It’s always an inspiration to see role models like Linell balance it all with a beautiful smile on their face. I had the opportunity to chat with this Maryland based designer and get to know the woman behind it all.
Linell was always a creative type. Her love for fashion actually started right at home with her mother. As a young adoring daughter, Linell would admiringly watch her mother get all dolled up in front of her vanity. She would take it all in, as any bright eyed girl would, as she would elegantly make herself up and match her accessories and handbags to her outfits with the greatest of ease. “I always say that my mom had an understated sense of glamour about her and that inspired me. All I wanted when I grew up was those handbags and the vanity that I got to know so well.” Today, it is only fitting that Linell is designing the very bags that once held a nostalgic place in her heart.
What made you want to leave your career in the hospitality industry as a technology executive, to pursue one in fashion? What gave you that push?
I’ve always had the passion and for years I did both. I worked in the corporate world and I did my passion on the side. About two years ago, the company I was working for was going through a large transformation and I kind of took it as an opportunity to follow a new path. My husband and I took that opportunity to go all in. My husband and I first started in 2001 and I’m self taught; I learned everything on my own. Ever since we decided to re-launch, it’s been great and we’ve gotten a lot of movement. It was scary but in the end I really enjoyed it. Hopefully, it will continue to be successful and it will be worth it. Even if it doesn’t continue to be successful, it will still be worth it because I have found my true voice in all of this.
Was fashion something you always wanted to pursue?
For me, creativity has always been a part of who I am. I’ve also always loved people and even in my career I’ve always focused on jobs that deal with people. For me and I think a lot of other women, accessories are an easy way to show personality. You never have to worry about what size they are. They are just there to spice things up and make you feel good.
What is your creative process of inspiration? What inspires you to create your high quality luxury bags?
A lot of it is around travel, words, and music. I use that a lot for inspiration. When we travel, I love learning about new cultures, meeting new people and finding out what’s important to them. I take that as a point of inspiration, like a thought, phrase, colour, etc, and build an inspiration board around that. I always use classic shapes and very rarely will venture out into some weird shape. I’m also really drawn to colour and that usually shows up in the inspiration boards as well.
How would you describe the Linell Ellis woman? What’s her personality like? What does she embody?
The Linell Ellis woman is a go getter. She’s out and about and loves to be active, whether that involves her career, community, or raising her family. She loves experiences. She loves to travel, go places and make memories. But as for accessories, she really looks for quality and she will pay for that. She is connected to technology, she shops online a lot and keeps up with fashion trends. She may not be trendy and may just be aware of the trends but she knows what they are. She’s a very savvy, smart women, who knows what she wants and how she’s going to get it.
The Live Completely Motto is something I really admire about your brand. The idea that the true luxury is in our experiences is a powerful message. What inspired this philosophical view for your brand?
I think that’s really the essence of me. My family and friends always say,”Linells always trying to create these crazy experiences and memories”. For me that’s what creates connections with people. For me, this motto just reminds me to slow down, enjoy life. When you have experiences, they are something to be felt, whether it’s a smell, taste, or memory, it’s all important. And it’s important not to rush. So many people today equate luxury to a dollar amount or value, which in some cases is true, but for us what it’s about really focusing on the quality of something and what experiences you will have with it. There is no high price dollar amount for that.
It is wonderful to see a talented designer like yourself giving back to the community with your “You Feel So Much better When You Give” program. What does giving back mean to you? Why do you think it’s important?
I think for me, it’s just how I was raised. It’s what I know; when you are given a lot in your light it is understood that it is required of you to give back as well. Just recently we sent a handbag to the Broward Country Austism society for a raffle. I’m always looking for ways to give and I can see that it makes people feel good. My husband really focuses on children and the different organizations that we can donate too in those aspect. I focus on seniors; for example we also work with the National Alzheimer’s Association. At the end of the day, we can make all the bags we want and sell them, but what I really want to be remembered for is that we cared.
As a mother, wife and designer, how do you balance your busy life, how do you stay motivated?
Some days it’s easier than others. That’s really the benefit of having your own business. I can afford to make sure I’m focused on my children and husband when I need to be. I may be at the computer for all hours of the night one night and the next day I’m off to Karate and wherever else I need to be. I work very hard at trying to keep the balance. I had our son a little later in life so I try to be there for all the big things for him.
What advice do you have for emerging designers who want to pursue their dreams as you did? What obstacles did you face while coming up?
I’d say the first thing to do is believe in yourself and in your passion. If you really believe in what you’re doing, you have to push yourself to keep going. Really do your research. Find out about the industry that your getting into and be open to constructive feedback. Always ask questions if you don’t know. Most importantly keep believing and keep pushing. Celebrate small successes.
The most impactful obstacle that we were able to overcome was finding quality manufacturers. We’ve learned what to do, what to look for. That was a big thing. I think for us, being able to find manufacturers in the US was a big factor. In 2001 I sat down and said I needed to figure out how to make a bag. I traveled overseas and tried to learn what I needed to know. Meeting minimums was very difficult. I spent a lot of time finding good quality manufacturers in the US. Some of our manufactures are actually here in Maryland and that’s important to me because I know I’m helping people to work in the state I’m in.
Linell Ellis is one of those classy women who are all about living in the moment and living for what you are passionate about. Her Brand is one that wants their wearers to feel as amazing as they look. Her nurturing and caring nature towards her community and those around her is admirable. People like her show us that fashion can make a contribution to the world and it matters.
This Article was written by Angie. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Unngie