We recently connected with Alexis Garrett and have shared our conversation below.
Alexis, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Alright, let’s take a stroll on memory lane, back to when you were an apprentice or intern. What’s a memorable story from that time that you can share with us?
While in college, I was struggling in one of my sculpture classes–it was a foundry course and I was in a state of serious “artist block”. Everything I was creating was two dimensional—-it was a 3 dimensional sculpture course and I just couldn’t make anything work in that 3rd dimension. My professor suggested that I intern for a local jeweler, who was also a sculptor.
My first day, I walked in and he asked my where my sketchbook was. I explained to him, that I didn’t bring it and was there to work for him. He told me to go home and come back with a sketch of something I wanted to make or wear + we would start from there. I didn’t wear jewelry nor did I plan to start, so he tasked me to create something I would wear–something that would suit my style, my wearability.
Over the course of 2 years, I created my own collection of wearable artwork. Simple + elegant and effortless to wear every day. I was shown how to create these pieces from sketch, to carving the wax, to casting each piece, finishing + polishing. Each phase was a beautiful lesson that began to grow my style.
This experience was the launching pad to where I am today with my company. We have grown + expanded our product offering. All the while, using each opportunity for learning + growing as an artist.
Today, we offer summer internships + opportunities for learning for students because this experience had a huge impact on the early years of my business . It was the idea that was planted + grew—and it started with a teacher, suggesting I try a different way of learning.
Grateful for both my professor + the local jeweler who knew I could figure it out. Grateful to be able to give back to our younger generation of learners—hoping to create a connection + share experiences.
Alexis, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
Designed + sewn in Wyoming, Alexis Drake, had its beginnings in a garage making leather handbags + accessories, one at a time on nights + weekends.
Together with our production + retail teams, today we have grown to house both our manufacturing + retail under one roof in our flagship store in downtown Cheyenne, WY.
We have captured a seat in the affordable luxury market with our leather handbags + accessories with a unique ability to customize.
Our customers get to experience the production process whether customizing their handbags leather color, stitching, hardware + lining or choosing from one of our Everyday classics or a seasonal favorites.
Our philosophy to create the highest quality leather goods, paired with amazing customer experiences through the story of our process, gives our customer a connection with our product—something they wear effortlessly, every day.
Can you talk to us about manufacturing? How’d you figure it all out? We’d love to hear the story.
When we expanded into leather handbags, I did not have a leather sewing machine, nor could afford one. I found a local company that stitched canvas tarps that was able to sew my first handbags. His machines were industrial + could handle the thickness of the leather.
At first, I would drop off a pile of leather, chalk-marked with where the pockets + handles needed to be stitched on + pick them up finished in a couple of weeks.
These handbags were not perfect by any standards, crooked stitching, hand-cut, unlined + hand-finished, but sold as quickly as they were finished.
We tested the market with these bags, customers loved that they got to choose the leather colors + be part of the process.
Eventually, we were able to purchase our own industrial machine. We learned the pros + cons of materials, what worked + what didn’t. Our customers loved that our product was in a continuous state of perfection….way better now than back then, but that was the experience—the process of making.
We didn’t invest in a machine until we knew there was enough demand to return the investment.
Now we have 5 machines— 4 full-time seamstresses. The process is still in a state of growth, we are always finding ways to make our product better!
How’d you build such a strong reputation within your market?
From the beginning, we have connected with our customers through the experience of making handbags + accessories. We have encouraged them to be part of the process whether customizing their own handbag + accessories or choosing from one of our seasonal collections. We have celebrated our process + our team making our products + shared the excitement with our customers.
Our goal is that our customers return for more because of their experience with our team + our products + our platforms. We have one shot at a first impression, and our goal is to make it the best.
We are always trying to make every part of our process better + we hope that is what drives our customers to experience + purchase with us.
- Website: https://alexisdrake.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wearalexisdrake
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wearalexisdrake
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexis-garrett-585061215/
Images by Janelle Rose Photography + Liz Putnam Photography