Women Who Inspire Us: Holly Darling

Amy Darling

This week, we chatted with my awesome sister-in-law Holly Darling, style blogger and designer behind the children's clothing line Nelly Lou to talk about the impact her personal style has on the brand and her goal setting strategy.

Q: Tell us about the idea behind your company and how you launched Nelly Lou. 
I’d actually had an Etsy shop for years, by another name, making jewelry. But my interest in jewelry making was waning and I just wasn’t having fun with it anymore. I’d been wanting to get back into what I was trained in, which is sewing and designing clothes. After having my daughter, my life revolved around tiny baby things. So my desire to sew and design merged with my new lifestyle and I started creating baby and toddler clothing and hair accessories. I changed my shop name to Nelly Lou (named after my daughter, Penelope), did all of the re-branding myself and started marketing on social media with my new brand. And voila, here we are today. I’m much happier at a sewing machine than I was when I making jewelry. I stay at home with Penny, so she comes first, always. But Nelly Lou is my other baby and I love what it’s become in just the last couple of years. 

Q: How much does your personal style impact your designs and the positioning of the brand?  
My style is definitely there in everything I design and all the fabrics I choose. Everything I make is something that I would dress my own kid in, and would wear myself if I were to make it in adult size. In fact, my dream is to one day actually offer women’s sizes for matching mommy and me sets! I don’t think I could make things that I didn’t like, style wise, because I would get so bored with it. 

Q: Your Instagram feeds are beautiful. Tell us a little about how you choose to present yourself and your brand on social media.

Both my personal Instagram and the shop Instagram kind of have the same feel. I like my photos to be bright and happy. As far as what I post and present, it’s a balance. I like to post whatever photos I like and make me happy to see in those little squares. But at the same time I’m aware of how my feed looks overall, and how each photo fits into that. And also how important it is for a brand to have a consistent feed. So I kind of curate my feed, kind of don’t. I do love editing photos and getting that look that I love, though! 
Q: How do you go about setting goals for your blog and the brand as a whole?
I’m pretty realistic and laid back with goals for both Nelly Lou and my blog. I am a stay at home mom first and foremost, after all. Any work that gets done for the shop or blog gets done in whatever down time I can get, which is also needed for some freelance sewing work I do. So my overall goal is just to not let it get too overwhelming because then it becomes not fun anymore. I concentrate on what’s in front of me, and what I know I can realistically accomplish with the time I have at this moment. I do have long term goals of expanding products and getting them in more local stores, but I know I just don’t have the capacity to accomplish that right now without burning out, and that’s ok. It’s bookmarked for the future. 

Q: Advice for other women looking to launch an online brand or a handmade business?

Stay true to you and what you love! If something doesn’t make you happy, or feels like a chore to work on, then it probably isn’t going to work for you. Strive for your best, but know your limits and try not to push yourself TOO hard because it will become no longer fun. And you want to have fun and love what you’re doing! 

Q: How do you unplug and relax?

Well that’s kind of hard when you have a 2 year old by your side all day, but as crazy as it sounds, sewing. Getting time to switch from work sewing to personal sewing is relaxing to me. With a podcast or music playing, and a Dr. Pepper to sip on. 

Q: And finally, just for fun…. Favorite flower?

I have a thing for poppies. But I also love a simple white daisy!

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