Supermum builds business one stitch at a time

By Jessica Ball

After the birth of her second daughter, Elise Gill was drowning in sleep deprivation.

Fast forward two years and the hobby she picked up to keep her sane during maternity leave has blossomed into something she never could have imagined.

“I was too tired to ever leave the house, but being me I needed to do something to keep me occupied at home. So, I decided to teach myself to sew,” Mrs Gill said.

“I have always loved little girls’ clothes and matching them in the same outfit, so I was in my element being able to pick the design, colours and fabrics of their outfits.

“I would sew during the day when the girls played. I wanted to learn more about sewing. I was obsessed with it. So I went to night classes with my sister-in-law and my passion grew.”

What started on her kitchen table quickly morphed into something much larger.

Mrs Gill began sewing clothes for friends and friends of family, and with a little push from her sisters and husband Aaron Gill, The Elizabeth Collection was born.

“To be completely honest, I fell into this business from passion — I never dreamed I would own a business, let alone create and design children’s clothes,” she said.

Suddenly Mrs Gill was getting orders faster than she could sew.

“I was working nights as a midwife having finished maternity leave,” she said.

“I was struggling, I felt guilty leaving my sewing machine when people were waiting for their orders and I hardly slept after work to either complete the orders or because Abby wouldn’t sleep.”

Each garment was handmade, with Mr Gill helping cut orders after work. Mrs Gill knew it was time to adapt or close the business.

“My husband encouraged me to consider manufacturing companies who could help make my designs and take some pressure off me,” she said.

“He is my rock; without him I think I would have given up a long time ago.”

Today, The Elizabeth Collection features a handmade range created in the Gill family home, but has expanded to include pieces designed by the hardworking mum and produced by an ethical manufacturer.

At the heart of Mrs Gill's designs are her daughters: Elara, 6, Abby, 2, and four-month-old Edie.

“They are my inspiration and muses,” Mrs Gill said.

“I do all the designing in our family home, surrounded by my girls. Usually I come up with my design ideas when I am watching them play or when I am supposed to be asleep.

“All my designs are created into samples, which my girls then test run for me, whilst I make small tweaks and changes to the designs.”

Her timeless line is a case of ‘mum knows best’ and uses natural fabrics to create often adjustable pieces designed to be passed down from sibling to sibling.

Even now, with the brand selling internationally, it still makes Mrs Gill smile when an order is placed.

“Seeing my garments on people’s children always makes me feel really honoured,” she said.

But it has not been easy for the midwife, mum, wife and business owner.

“I am not a designer by trade so sometimes I feel like a fraud,” Mrs Gill said.

“Honestly it’s really hard, I get loads of mum guilt.

“I do get overwhelmed sometimes, but my husband always helps me get back on track.

“I could not do any of it if it wasn’t for Aaron. I am still learning how to balance and juggle it all, especially that it’s all done in my home, on my phone, laptop — so it’s hard to switch off sometimes.”

When her maternity leave comes to an end, Mrs Gill will likely head back to night duty as a midwife so she can fit more into her days.

But for the moment she is enjoying slow days with her family of five, which have included releasing a new collection, rebranding the business and designing and sampling new products.