Hi Chelsea! We love your Etsy shop MabelCollections that you run from Prague. How did you move here?
In 2009 I was in Prague for the summer taking classes at Charles University, when I met my husband Daniel. After two years of dating long distance, I made the move from Ohio and made Prague my new home.
When did you discover that you are a designer at heart?
I opened my shop Mabel in 2012, at first selling just my handmade maxi skirts and dresses. At first it was really just a side project and I made some dresses here and there, but then last November I switched to working part-time at my “day job” in order to really focus on the shop and my designs. Since then I’ve been able to offer many more items, including my box clutches.
The box clutches are amazing but also quite unexpected items to design!
I first got into making the clutches when I made some for my bridesmaids and myself for my wedding. I loved how they turned out and how the possibilities are really endless with them as far as colors and patterns. The aztec clutch for example is playful and I imagine it being worn in the city on a summer day with a fun skirt and top. The emerald green silk clutch is elegant and would look so glamorous with a formal dress or at a cocktail party. The leaf print clutch is perfect for pairing it with a bright, flowy dress on a beach holiday.
We cannot agree more! Tell us what was your daytime career and your part time now?
I graduated from The Ohio State University and before moving to Prague I worked as a structural engineer analyzing telecommunication towers. In Prague I work for a company that makes structural analysis software for constructing buildings and bridges. It might seem unlikely that someone would come from the engineering world to designing and selling clothes and accessories, but being both an analytical and creative person, the combination suits me.
How much time do you spend designing and manufacturing your products and where do you do that?
When I switched to working part-time, I planned on working on the shop 2 days a week. But in the last few months I have been working roughly 35 hours a week on Mabel to keep up with orders. I make everything in my studio at my house.
How would you describe your line?
I would describe my line as feminine, simple, fresh. I like clean lines and bright and fresh colors, with a pop of fun, such as an unexpected pattern on the inside of a clutch. My designs are also versatile. They can be worn to formal events but also styled down for an everyday look.
Who buys your designs on Etsy?
My customer base if fairly international, but the majority of my customers are from the US and the Czech Republic. For my American customers, the maxi skirts are the most popular item in my shop. In the US, more and more brides are opting for skirts and a top rather than dresses for their bridesmaids, so there has been a lot of interest in my maxi skirts as bridesmaids skirts. I can make them in basically any color, so they work for all wedding color palettes. For my Czech customers, the box clutches have been the best sellers. The simple and clean design I use for my clutches is not very common among designers that sell online in the CR, and I think there is a real demand for this style here.
Are you happy?
Being an expat and not fluent in Czech (although I’m working on it!), the job market can be limited. So I’m especially grateful to be doing something that is both creative and something that I’m passionate about. It’s also been great cooperating with other local businesswomen with great products. For example I use some fabrics from Jana Seidlová of Kdotokdyslysel and textile designer Anna Šebestová of Annanemone in some of my designs.
Look for MabelCollections on Etsy.com!