The Estella Story
Hello, my name is Jean Polsky, I own 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, experimenting with how different colors and shapes looked with each other. Decades later, things haven’t changed very much, not only do I put a lot of thought into what I wear, but my heart still skips a beat when I see an interesting outfit pass me on the street. And living in colorful Downtown New York City, this happens a lot and is one of the reasons I live here.
Professionally, I have always worked in fashion. After getting my bachelors from Harvard, I followed my heart and took an $8 an 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 in America. All the designers used premium fabrics: Japanese prints, Italian cottons, Scottish cashmere etc. And they all had different, yet equaling compelling, visions for their lines. Some were conservative and beautiful, while others were bold and exciting. 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 their designs to the US so in 2002, I opened Estella. To my surprise, the concept was highly successful.
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 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 they could machine-wash and mix in with everything else in their child’s closet. They didn’t want loud patterns or generic colors and only showed interest in things that felt great to the touch. I knew that fit, quality, practicality and elegance had to be the hallmarks of our lines. The results were the Estella bamboo baby collection and the Estella Organic Cotton Kids collections.
Bamboo Baby Layette
In order to control the quality, we decided to make everything here in the US. We chose bamboo for our baby layette because of all its wonderful qualities:
• It‘s supremely soft and does not irritate infants’ sensitive skin;
• It stretches very easily so it doesn’t restrict movement as they lounge and grow;
• Because it stretches so easily, growing babies can wear it a little longer and get more life out of the garment;
• Bamboo keeps the skin drier than most other fabrics, so wetness from sweat and leaking diapers will not bother the skin as much
• Bamboo is machine washable and easy to take care of.
Organic Kids Basics
Happily, our cotton basics are made here in the US as well. We like employing Americans and reducing our footprint where possible. Plus, 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, 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.
As times change and our assortment evolves, I invite you to send recommendations my way. If you have a favorite line that we do not currently carry and you think it would work in the store, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading my story; I invite you to visit our Greenwich Village boutique if you are in the area. If not, enjoy looking at our site and join our community by signing up for our newsletter, reading our blog and following me on facebook, twitter and pinterest. Though it is new to me, I am having great fun with social media and love that I can expand my horizons and share EVERYTHING children-related that makes my heart skip a beat.