This month is suicide awareness month. As someone who has struggled with depression, suicidal thoughts and everything in between makes this subject important. That’s why I’m releasing this episode two and a half months earlier than the rest. The young woman I sit down with has first-hand experience
Chelsea Rogers of Marlee Mae Everyday, an online fashion sensation who makes clothes for moms and kids. We discussed how her business got started and the hardship she encountered in the early months of her business getting off the ground. Her fiance took his life. It came on suddenly and out of nowhere. She hadn’t seen the signs or understood what they meant until after the tragedy.
After feeling heartbroken and nearly giving up everything, she picked herself back up and kept going. This podcast is about her story and her journey towards growing a business she and her beautiful young daughter can thrive from.
Below is the short transcript of our interview.
Sarah Allison: Chelsea, explain how you got started and what inspired your momentum into the fashion business.
Chelsea Rogers: I was a stay at home mom for about 11 months. I started to plan my daughter first birthday, but, I was struggling because everything I wanted for her party decorations was so expensive. So, I did some research on how to make it all myself. Everything pointed to The Cricut (a cutting machine). So, went on a Facebook resell page and found a used one for $50. I knew nothing about this machine, but I watched tons of tutorials and made all of her decorations! Then, I found out that it could cut a material called HTV (heat transfer vinyl) so, I thought I’d try and make her birthday outfit too. And I did so, successfully.
I got to thinking, I could totally make those similar shirts to the ones on Etsy that I love. I wanted a mama bear/baby bear shirt so bad. So, I made Marlee and I those shirts. I took a couple pictures of them and out of curiosity I posted to a local Facebook resell group and asked everyone in the group if this is something that they would ever purchase. In a matter of 2 hours, I had 98 comments on that post! I remember thinking to myself, this is something I can do! And so, I started filling these orders, making these shirts on my kitchen floor with an old iron that I found in the closet. And in less than a month, I purchased a heat press. I started working a night job so that I could support this dream.
I was selling to mainly all local people through Facebook resell pages. I had set up an Etsy shop, but, it took months and months to get my first order. I learned the ins and outs of Etsy and how to successfully sell on Etsy.
Now, I have a home office filled with machinery, computers, and inventory. And my online sales largely outweigh my local sales. And I now have my own website, as well as an Etsy shop. And my entire winter and fall season is completely booked up!
A few months ago I was able to quit my night job and now solely rely on my business. I never ever thought that it would actually be possible. And I can proudly (and shockingly) say, in the 11 months and 24 days I have been in business, I have yet to have a single item that I have made have any issues, such as fading, cracking or lifting.
SB: What do you love most about working in the online fashion industry?
CR: I love creating and designing. I love working for myself. I love seeing the look on a woman’s face when she sees the cactus tee she’s “always dreamed of”. II love being a stay at home parent. I love being able to go to the local grocery store and see some random person wearing a shirt I designed! But, most of all, I do what I do for my daughter, Marlee. I do this so that I can provide for her.
The 18-20 hour days are paying off and I don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck anymore.
SA: What’s been the most incredible part of this experience, so far?
CR: One of the most amazing things about this business is the little experiences I get to have. I get to often be the first person to know that someone’s pregnant because I’m making a onesie so they can tell their husband. I often get to know the gender, even before the mother knows. And there was a mom that emailed me asking if I could make a shirt with a twins names, the twins were stillborn and make her a rainbow baby onesie (a baby that is born after a miscarriage or stillbirth) even though she was not yet pregnant, but going through the fertility treatments.
The look on her face when she opened her order at my front door and cried hugging me. I get to be that person that not only designs something special for someone, but I also get to witness how much it means to them. But with the heartwarming experiences, there is also the experiences that hit me really hard and sometimes leave me in a dark place. I have a few shirts that are for suicide awareness and the proceeds go to a non-profit.
A lot of people know my story and the hell I’ve gone through the past 6 months. And when people buy the suicide awareness shirts, they often open up to me about how they just lost their son, brother, sister, dad, mom, daughter or best friend to suicide. But, I am blessed with being able to be strong enough to be there and listen to their story. I do this for all those tender and insanely raw emotional moments and I do this for my daughter.
SA: You’ve been running this business since a little before Marlee’s first birthday and she just turned two; At what point in time did you feel successful? How did you know what you were doing was working?
CR: Well, there’s been a ton of ups and downs in this past year. but, the moment I felt most successful was about 6 months ago. This is going to sound so strange. But, 5 1/2 months ago I lost my best friend, my fiancé, the love of my life and Marlee’s dad. We lost him to suicide on the morning of my 26th birthday. I wanted to quit. I wanted to just throw everything in the dumpster. It was a really dark time for me and I was dealing with depression, becoming a single parent, losing Kip, losing my entire support system. My daughter and I literally lost everything. Our home, our belongings, his belongings.
I wanted to quit. I wanted to just throw everything in the dumpster.
It was a really dark time for me and I was dealing with depression, becoming a single parent, losing Kip, losing my entire support system. My daughter and I literally lost everything. Our home, our belongings, his belongings. And on top of that, I was and am still currently battling depression and PTSD because of what I had witnessed and experienced. Although, I am doing much better now. About a week after he had passed, I had basically destroyed everything in my office out of pain and anger. I destroyed pictures, one of my cutting machines, my computer (my office is at my mother’s house).
Then I fell to my knees begging God and begging Kip to give me answers. Why? How? How do I do this? How do I keep going? Am I supposed to keep doing this business? How am I supposed to support my tiny family on such a small income?
I remember crying myself to sleep on my office floor and waking up to my phone making the cash register sound “cha-ching” “cha-ching.”
It literally just kept going off until I finally realized what it was. It was my Etsy app. And everytime their is a purchase it makes that sound. I looked on my Etsy account and out of no where, orders were rolling in. And in a span of 24 hours, my Etsy shop had brought in enough income to pay a months worth of bills. I took that as me getting my answers.
I am extremely passionate about what I do. All of the things that have happened this past year are what have made me and my business a success.
During our recording we discussed a few products and you can see them below here:
Peter Pan Sweatshirt
This blog post is part of the Suicide Prevention Awareness Month blog tour in partnership with Debt Drop. If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.