Family connection leads to creative new business

Published 2:56 pm Thursday, December 20, 2018

The Ellis family in Forkland has a long and involved history in Boyle County.  Through the years, family have returned to the area, bringing spouses and children into the community, growing connections which further expand their already extensive tradition of creativity and community participation.  Often this activity begins with some form of participation in the Forkland Festival.

Photos contributed
Millie Ellis and Lourrae Ewbank in their studio located in the redesigned garage at Millie’s home.

Lourrae Ewbank and Millie Ellis share a family connection and a friendship which has led to a new business venture.  Their individual, professional and personal histories have wound through Kentucky and to as far away as Romania.  This year, they launched the new collaboration at the Forkland Festival and then branched out to the Arts Commission’s November Gallery Hop.

Lourrae grew up in Scott County, Kentucky, served as an Extension Agent in Northern Kentucky and worked in the mental health field before enrolling in the Peace Corps.  Her years with the Corps took her to Romania where she developed programs to partner HIV positive children with community support volunteers.  The goal of the program was to incorporate the children into the community through productive and mutually beneficial activities.

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When her Peace Corps tour was completed, Lourrae attended nursing school at Johns Hopkins.  Following a career in nursing at Duke and UK, she retired, married and now lives in Nicholasville with her husband who is an artist working in metal and wood.

Millie Ellis learned to sew at about the age of eight.  She would spend time with an elderly neighbor after school and quickly picked up the skills from her which she would use for the rest of her life, sewing for her children, her home and the Boyle County Band!  Though she attained a degree in music, her career path included work as a draftsman at the Louisville GE plant and as a state employee with environmental protection department.

While on her honeymoon in Florida, Lourrae stopped by a consignment shop which raised money for women who were survivors of human trafficking.  She purchased several pieces of vintage fabric.  Combining the use of beautiful fabrics, their design and creative experiences, and the desire to build a business with a cause led Lourrae and Millie to join forces and the business partnership was formed.

Each piece of clothing is a one of a kind creation.  Fabrics have been sourced from Britain, Europe, consignment shops, second hand stores and personal stashes collected through the years.  Each piece in the collection is the result of their combined skills of drawing, construction and vision.  Millie is the primary seamstress, while Lourrae creates complementary jewelry from vintage beads and other objects.

Their primary workroom is the redesigned garage at Millie’s home in Boyle County.  The women get together there for planning and work at least a couple days a week.  At other times, they travel and shop for materials.  A favorite source for material is “charity” shops in Europe.  Charity shops are temporary shops which are set up in vacant storefronts between regular, paying, tenants.  A charity shop is one which benefits particular causes such as the shop Lourrae visited in Florida.

Both women are cancer survivors and it is this common experience which has led them to focus their designs on clothing which is versatile, elegant and unique.  Each item can be worn in multiple ways and is equally well fitting for women of any size, or between sizes.  Items are reasonably priced between $25 and $60.

Photos contributed
A suggested pairing of a top and necklace. Millie is the primary seamstress, while Lourrae creates complementary jewelry from vintage beads

Lourrae and Millie are concentrating their creative energy on product design and building inventory.  They look forward to developing a plan to grow their business, as well.  Their goal is creating, sharing, using resources responsibly and pooling their talents for a common cause; dressing women beautifully at any time.