On International Women’s Day I asked my Instagram Followers to nominate women in their lives who are doing exceptional things. Stephanie Stell who has become a friend and mentor nominated Roula Rallis and I was instantly drawn to Roula’s New England nautical vibes. I was intrigued and inspired to learn more about her process as a maker and how she juggles a full-time career, motherhood, and life as an entrepreneurial business women. Roula is the founder and maker behind Sewcilite a collection of handmade statement pieces that transform rope into conversation pieces for your home and wardrobe. Stay tuned for an exciting giveaway on Instagram next week!! Here is my interview with this amazing woman.
Tell me about your childhood, what kind of kid were you?
Growing up I recall being a shy child who loved to spend hours reading, drawing, dancing and playing pretend! Often I would do so quietly in my own world. I remember telling my parents I wanted to grow up to be a dancer or an artist.
So I guess that creative streak stayed with me into adulthood and helped guide me to the maker path! And as an adult I would still call myself a functioning introvert. I find it very hard to put myself out there on social media as part of my brand; it’s much easier to let my bags be the focal point.
How has your husband helped foster your business?
I graduated from college around 9/11 when jobs were scarce, so I went and got my business degree along with three part-time jobs. I was temping at Timberland, working part time at Mammalians Restaurant and working one day a week at Ann Taylor Loft. That one day a week is how I met my future husband; he came into Ann Taylor Loft with his mother one day, and the rest was history.
My husband is my number one supporter! Without him there is no way I would be able to carve out the time that I do during the week and on weekends to design and photograph my art!
Many times he helps me actually take the pictures I post, especially if they are of me styling one of my bags or videos of me working on pieces.
Can you share about the first time you made a rope piece, who was it for, & why you loved it?
In 2017 we moved into a new home that we had General Contracted ourselves. After designing our home I realized I really missed having a creative outlet. Even though I have chosen a non-creative professional career somehow I am always drawn back to a creative path.
So I decided to make myself a rope basket. It was more of a DIY project for myself for our new home. But I fell in love with the process and I couldn’t stop making baskets. I call myself a self-taught fiber artist because although I have some basic sewing skills I taught myself how to create new designs using clothesline rope as my medium.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your pieces?
I grew up on the coasts of southern Maine and southern NH. The ocean, and coastline is definitely my inspiration. I like to think that my aesthetic is modern coastal. I am drawn to neutrals with pops of blues. The patterns created by ocean waves and textures of rocky coastlines inspire my woven designs. I love creating textures and patterns with my pieces.
You are Juggling a lot with a career, family, and business, how do you prioritize?
Feels like 100 balls are in the air at any given time. The biggest being the balancing of my full time job, my family, and making sure I find time to take care of myself. I try to plan my days but you can’t plan for everything. My days are filled with a lot of multi-tasking, I am constantly switching gears. For example on my lunch breaks I try to answer Sewcialite emails, purchase materials etc. On weeknights and weekends I try to dedicate specific design times in between kid activities and family events. It’s never perfect I just take it day by day and sometime hour by hour.
What is next for you?
I honestly don’t know, I’ve reached a point where if I were to grow any more something would have to change. I would need to hire people to help me produce my items or cut back my hours at my full time job. Two things I’m not ready to do.
Unfortunately basket making isn’t super lucrative and with anything once you are under deadlines it becomes more work and less fun. Sewcialite began as a hobby before my first daughter was born and turned into a small business over the past few years. I feel like I am always trying to find a balance between the two.
It’s so important to have something in your life that you are passionate about, it doesn’t have to be designing, and you might be surprised that you may have already found it; it could be volunteering and giving back to your community, baking, cooking, gardening, health and fitness. Whatever that thing may be make sure it is something that will re energize, challenge and inspire you!
If you have any other questions for Roula please share them in the comments below.