Our team is incredible. It is like a wonderful soup, full of talented, passionate individuals with different flavors and perspectives. We all share some notes, there’s a common thread among us, but there is also a real richness and depth to this group. I have been craving a way to connect you all more deeply with the entire team that brings Elizabeth Suzann to life - the people whose hands cut and sew your clothing, the ones that answer your questions, the ones that tell our story and cultivate this thriving digital community.
Our "Meet the Team" series will highlight the ES squad, one member at a time. We’ll give you a glimpse into the personalities and minds here and also paint a more detailed picture of how we do what we do. It is my hope that, through this feature, you’ll find a deeper connection with the makers of the clothing you love and also learn something new about how we operate through the unique lens of our crew.
Second in our "Meet the Team” series is McKenna, a killer member of our Fulfillment Team. She is also skilled at cutting and hops in wherever help is needed to keep our operations running smoothly. She is a talented artist, has fantastic style (and hair), and is quick on her feet.
Can you describe your role at Elizabeth Suzann?
I am on the Fulfillment Team, which means I am a part of the last step of the production process. Before my team receives the garments, the fabric has first been cut and bundled by the Cutting Team and then sewn from start to finish by the Sewing Team. In our department, we highly emphasize quality control - which means that we want each piece to meet our high quality standards before it is sent to our customers - so we make sure to examine, lint roll, and trim any loose threads off of each and every garment before it is packaged.
There are also times that I jump over to the cutting department. I really love having a role in both departments because I get to see and appreciate every aspect of production. One of the best parts of my job is seeing a garment when it is first cut to when it is finally shipped. I am able to watch the garment at every step of the process and, not only see what my part has been in its growth, but also how others have placed a hand on it before it is shipped.
Why did you choose this role and what about your job do you enjoy the most or find the most fulfilling?
I love being a part of such an impactful company. I think that is one of the most fulfilling aspects: knowing that everyone here really cares about what we're working towards, no matter what our individual roles may be. That said, being on the Fulfillment Team is something that I never thought I would get a chance to do. I love being in the midst of production because I feel as though I really have a role in making each piece of clothing come to life. I get to see these beautiful garments fill the racks every day as we prepare to ship them, and it feels great knowing that I have a direct link to our customers. I love having the privilege to write Thank You notes to each customer because it feels as if I have a direct part in their story.
What draws you to clothing? Is there something in particular that drew you to clothing at Elizabeth Suzann?
Clothing is more than just what you use to cover your body; it's a voice. When you walk into a room, your clothing makes a declaration before you even open your mouth. I view clothing as wearable art - an art that everyone participates in at some level and an art that is perhaps the most influential.
The art of clothing comes in waves, and it teaches us what culture wants and is striving for in order to fill a hole in our lives. Fashion, in general, can express something that a painting, film, or book cannot. It can tell a story, represent time in history, or simply be a beautiful creation. It is not only incredibly inspiring for me to see how captivating clothing can be, but it is also inspiring to know that something that fulfills practicality really has no limits.
Elizabeth Suzann ties these views together. Her clothing is not only practical and made to last, but she also understands the importance of unique, beautiful pieces that speak on their own and provide a voice to women. It's amazing to see how everyone here is behind both our mission and each other. Knowing that we all believe in the product and in Liz's vision keeps the company focused and working as a strong unit.
What does your typical day look like? Do you have any routines or rituals you find important?
I'd like to think that routines and rituals are important to me. In some sense, they are, but I also like variety. Being on the production floor tends to both of these. I love to come in each morning with a cup of coffee and start things off a slowly by either writing Thank You notes or bundling fabric for the Sewing Team. I also love when things tend to pick up a bit more once I start preparing garments for shipment. It's nice knowing that I can typically rely on the flow and cadence of a normal day, but I am also very thankful that I never have to stick to a tight schedule where there is no room for change.
When do you feel most successful or proud of your work?
I feel the most successful and proud of my work when I see powerful and inspiring women in our clothing. We have a testimonial board here at the warehouse where we display words and pictures from our customers both wearing their garments and telling their stories. The fashion industry has so much power, and I believe we are using that power to change the industry for the better. It's exciting to know I have a part in that.
My dream has always been to use my skills and love of the creative world to both inspire women and to have a real impact on my community in whatever way possible. At Elizabeth Suzann, I actually feel that I am doing that, and it doesn't hurt to see the fruit of that work in our relationships with customers.
What do you struggle with the most in your work, and how do you combat or overcome it?
Being on the Fulfillment Team means a lot of tedious work; oftentimes I need to be so minutely focused on each individual task. I am glad that we are all so intentional with these details because, at the end of the day, the product is quality driven, but I am also more of a big picture type of person. It's easy to let micro details consume your energy, but I have found that all I need to do is zoom out from my corner of the warehouse and look at the greater picture. There are a lot of problems in the fashion industry, and I love knowing that we are working every day to combat these. It is worth whatever struggle I am facing.
Is there anything most people get wrong about your job, or is there something that might surprise customers to learn about your job?
When I initially tell people what I do, I get a questioning look in response. I often respond by touching on the business model of ES and how I fit into that. We are all in different departments, but, at the end of the day, we are one united team working toward the same goal. That is one of my favorite parts about this work environment. The Leadership Team really understands the importance of team unity, recognizing that, only through unity, will we be able to grow as a healthy team and as individuals working together toward one undeniable goal.
What is one thing you want others to know about your work here or Elizabeth Suzann in general?
I wish everyone knew how much of a role ES plays in the lives of our customers. ES is a slow-fashion clothing line, which has a variety of wonderful characteristics that go along with it. But, unless you are in the midst of it, you might be surprised about how much of our work is directly intertwined with our customers' lives. We care about their stories, their work, their families, and we truly want to develop relationships with these women. And, thanks to our leadership and Liz's vision, these relationships are tangible and meaningful to each of us, more so than the relationship that most people have to the people making their clothes.
You were an English major in college. What is it that drew you to this field of study?
When I first went to college, I expected to end up in the design world, but the more that I was in the university setting, the more I realized how enraptured I was by the liberal arts. Above almost anything in my life, I value growth, wisdom, and creativity - all things that my English department encouraged me to value and question.
Obviously, I must love reading and writing if I was an English major, but reading and writing just scrape the surface of all that encompasses an English major. I was exposed to philosophy, history, and psychology, and it really shaped the way I now view everything in my life. There are a lot of days where I wish I would have stayed in the design world, but, had I not studied the humanities, I know that I wouldn't have had the same appreciation for my own artwork.
Do you nurture your imagination or your realm of factual knowledge more? Does fiction or nonfiction influence you more than the other?
That's a tough one because I really pull from both. My gut answer is that I nurture my imagination more because that's what comes more naturally to me. My mind runs too fast and wide for me to keep up with, so I usually end up lost in my mind for quite a long while. Anyone who really knows me understands I have a crazy imagination that can often get me into trouble - but that's what keeps things interesting and keeps me going. With that, though, I also can't deny that factual knowledge isn't just as important. Creativity and knowledge are equally as powerful in my book, and I think that one without the other leads to a lacking whole.
Putting it in terms of fiction and nonfiction really does solidify my ideal balance of imagination and knowledge. Fiction influences me because I am able to see others' creative process laid out on a page, and it gives me an opportunity to deconstruct meaning from it. On the other hand, nonfiction allows me into the real stories of others. Real people are the biggest inspiration that we can allow ourselves to take in. It's really amazing to me that, at any moment, we are surrounded by all the inspiration we could ever wish for.
Picture yourself at dinner with a favorite author. Who is across the table from you? What are two questions you might ask him or her?
I don't know if I could narrow down my top five favorite authors, but when I read that question, Virginia Woolf and Flannery O'Connor are the two authors that came to mind. I not only admire them dearly, but they also strike me as interesting dinner party guests. I think I would ask them both about the processes that lead them to dissect the human condition as something so abstract and yet so concrete at the same time. Virginia Woolf looks at experiences and then breaks them down to second-by-second interactions using a stream of consciousness - giving rise to some of the most beautiful sentences in the English language. Flannery O'Connor takes dramatic, often far-fetched and dark human interactions and somehow refracts the outcome into a comedic theological statement.
I would also ask them both how they were able to be diverse in their writing style and have each piece change so wildly, yet remain true to them because I also strive to create work that is diverse and unique, yet cohesive.
You have a knack for making your own household and beauty products. What inspired you to start this?
I think it was a combination of a lot of different things. For as long as I can remember, I have been an environmentalist. I have always been focused on the things I can do to create the least amount of waste and the things are healthy for both my body and the planet. I also have a strong desire to make things. I know it sounds funny, but it doesn't matter if I'm painting, cooking, or making lotion, I get a high off of any creative process. Those two interests of mine seem to manifest themselves in the form of homemade cleaning and beauty products. I don't know what I was actually thinking when I first started to make these products except, "that sounds fun and like a great, healthy alternative," so I just went with that instinct.
You are originally from Michigan. What was it like moving to a new city? What is most exciting to you about placing some roots in Nashville?
I got the travel bug from my parents at a young age. I love love love Michigan, but they really encouraged me to get out of the bubble where I was raised. Because of that, moving wasn't really a big ordeal - I was prepared and excited to be somewhere new. That said, I admit that my experience would have been drastically different had I not been moving for school. A university really gives you the perfect springboard for social opportunities and a good grasp of the city you are in. Michigan is very different than Tennessee in a lot of ways, but I think I am most excited about being in a creative city where I still have to option to be in nature when I need it.
How important is having the right creative space to you? Does environment affect how you feel and behave? If so, describe your ideal creative working space.
Having the right creative space is very important to me. I am very driven by my environment; it affects my mood, my thoughts, and my imagination. One of the most important components to this is lighting. I love natural lighting, even if it's gloomy outside. I want the outdoor energy to transfer to my space. I also prefer to have a clean space surrounding me, but, based on my scattered nature, that isn't always likely.
Which medium of art are you most drawn to creating?
I often bounce back and forth between my favorite medium, but I think my overarching favorite type of art to create is fashion design. It's more unconventional than what I have been trained in, but, like I was mentioning before, I think wearable art is the most influential. It has a movement to it that no other form can take. I am not as trained in fashion design, but being a part of the ES team inspires me to dive into this side of my passion, even if I'm still new to the fashion design world.
Last but not least, what is your favorite ES garment and why?
My favorite ES garment is probably the Clyde Jumpsuit. I love a good jumpsuit, and those pockets are the best!