OAKLAND -- Starting a business is always risky, especially when you begin on the cusp of a recession. But Oakland artist and mom Lesley Evers is pulling it off.
A few years ago, Evers was frustrated with the clothing choices that moms had. When she couldn't find the type of clothes that she wanted to wear, Evers dusted off her sewing machine and started making and wearing her own: bright-colored, boldly-patterned day dresses evocative of the 1950s and '60s.
"I wanted to have dresses that had really pretty graphic floral and geometric prints that create this iconic motherhood memory," she said. "I didn't want to wear something that was sexy, I wanted to wear something that was just lovely."
When she received good feedback on her clothes, she decided to launch a business with a trunk show in 2008.
"I can't say that it was a completely rational decision," said Evers, who was tired of her job and always wanted to start her own business. "I just really wanted to do this."
For help, she recruited mothers from Hillcrest Elementary, her children's school, and from other friends, many of whom were talented but not working. "I had this really great talent pool right at my fingertips," said Evers, whose social circle gave her access to a sales person, graphic designer and a social media manager.
After a nervous first year, she weathered the economic downturn with her business partner to create a thriving business. Committed to
Born in Oakland, Evers spent part of her childhood in North Carolina, went to college in the Northeast, and lived and worked in New York City as an artist before getting married and returning to the East Bay. Evers uses her drawing and painting skills to design textiles, which she turns into day dresses, skirts, tops, scarves and pants. She is inspired by nature (especially flowers and leaves), artwork or even patterns of colors that she sees at the grocery store.
Evers plans to expand her presence on the West Coast in the near future, and she hopes to sell her dresses in department stores such as Nordstrom by 2014. Her clothes are available locally in Bella Vita at 5407 College Ave. in Oakland, as well as on her website (www.lesleyevers.com).