THE ESTELLA STORY
Hello, my name is Jean Polsky and I am the co-owner of Estella with my husband, Chike Chukwulozie. I was born here in New York City and have been interested in clothes since the very beginning. As a child, I would spend hours alone in my room, trying on clothes and experimenting with how different colors and shapes looked with one another. Decades later, things haven’t changed very much; not only do I still put a lot of thought into what I wear, but my heart still skips a beat when I see an interesting outfit pass me by on the street. Living in colorful downtown New York City means this happens a lot - and is one of the reasons I still live here.
Professionally, I have always worked in fashion. After getting my bachelors degree from Harvard, I followed my heart and took an $8/hour job at Bergdorf Goodman. After steadily moving up the ladder and becoming a buyer, I went back to Harvard, got my MBA and jumped back into the adult fashion world. Years later, while pregnant and traveling through Europe, I fell in love with a handful of small children’s brands that I had never heard of before. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the clothes were and that the brands were virtually undiscovered back home in America. All the designers used premium fabrics (Japanese prints, Italian cottons, Scottish cashmere, etc), and they all had different, yet equally compelling, aesthetic visions for their lines. Some were conservative and elegant, while others were bold and exciting, but what they all had in common was that they were designed by creative moms, many of whom had previously held design positions with some of the most important names in women’s fashion. I was excited by their work and loved their personal connections to their collections. When I returned home to NY, I felt inspired to bring these Europeans designs to the US, so in 2002, we opened Estella.
THE ESTELLA COLLECTION
In 2007, I noticed that my customers did not have enough basic options to mix in with the beautiful collections we carried. “What do I put with this?”, they'd ofen asked after picking up a beautiful Belgian skirt or Italian pair of trousers. They wanted something with the same sophisticated aesthetic and quality of fabric that could be machine-washed and mixed and matched with everything else already in their child’s closet. They didn’t want loud patterns or generic colors - they showed interest in things that felt great to the touch, so I knew that fit, quality, practicality, and elegance had to be the hallmarks of our lines. The results were the Estella Organic Cotton Collection and Organic Bamboo Baby Collection.
THE ORGANIC BAMBOO BABY LAYETTE COLLECTION
In order to control the quality, we decided to make everything here in the US. We chose bamboo for our baby layette collection because of all its wonderful qualities:
• It‘s supremely soft and gentle on infants’ sensitive skin;
• It stretches easily so as to not restrict movement as babies lounge and grow. This also lengthens the amount of time babies can wear the garment;
• Bamboo keeps the skin drier than most other fabrics, so sweat and leaking diapers will not irritate the skin;
• Bamboo is machine washable and easy to care for.
THE ORGANIC COTTON COLLECTION
Our Organic Cotton Collection is made here in the US as well, as we like employing Americans and reducing our footprint where possible. Additionally, there’s the added benefit of being able to visit our factory to keep an eye on quality. Aesthetically, I’ve always loved the bold graphic look of stripes and have always appreciated the elegance of “the perfect solid t-shirt.” Within a collection, I always insist on:
• Interesting but elegant colors that will mix well with other items in our customers’ closets.
• Soft, soft, soft! The last thing that I want to hear is that a child won’t wear something because it’s too itchy. It’s music to my ears when my customers tell me that their children will only wear Estella basics!
• Organic cotton, even though it costs more, as a mom, I think it’s worth it and many of you seem to agree.
SUSTAINABILITY, FAIR TRADE, & FAIR WAGE
As we expand the Estella collection, we realize that it isn’t feasible to manufacture everything in America. In looking for alternate places to do business, we always look for sustainable materials and ethical manufacturers who take pride in what they do and who treat their employees fairly. We are very proud to make our knit layette collection, which is made in Bolivia with a certified fair trade fair wage organization. They are devoted not only to making beautiful things for us, but to treating their employees fairly, paying them well and making them proud of their craft.