The Mind Behind Indiesew
Portrait by Eleanor Williamson
“I'm a fan of ’70s fashion. I really love button-up shirts and high-waisted pants, and the colors,” says Allie Olson as she plays tour guide through her sunny Boulder studio, with reams of retro patterns throughout.
The 32-year-old entrepreneur is co-owner of Indiesew, a company she started with grad-school pal Steve Herschleb. The two met at CU Boulder, where Olson was earning her master’s in business. After graduation, Olson wanted a career that jibed with her creative side. “I knew I wanted to do something in the sewing world,” she says. Herschleb, an engineer and self-taught coder, agreed to help, and after six months, Indiesew—an online marketplace of quality patterns created by independent designers for the home sewist—became a web reality.
“When we started the company in 2014, the sewing world was really disjointed. There were designers making sewing patterns and maybe selling them on Etsy, but there wasn’t really a marketplace that sold all of them,” Olson says. Indiesew.com sells vetted fabrics and patterns for skirts, shirts, blouses, jeans, leggings, dresses, kimonos, handbags, hats, scarves and more.
Inspired by a year of “no new clothes,” 365 days of thrifting and sewing her own wardrobe, Olson honed her skills as a sewist and moved beyond the quilting that her mother taught her at age 7. Olson had long blogged about her sewing creations and garnered a community of passionate sew sisters (and brothers) who flocked to Indiesew. The community has spread from the U.S. to Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. “It is an incredibly engaged group. There’s a lot of connection through Instagram and through our site. The best thing is the community that I now have and their support,” Olson muses. “And I just freaking love to sew.”