Arloom Q&A

We chatted with the founders of Arloom, Alex & Robin Hewes, about their beginnings, business practice and more. 
As fellow Texans, how has your local community influence your brand? 
We live in a very creative and artistic community and that certainly has influenced our business.  We left a larger city in Texas 10 years ago and chose to make our life in a smaller community with a lot of natural beauty surrounding us.  We want to create products that can work in many different regions and celebrate unique and one-of-a-kind style.  I guess we would say that our brand embraces individualism and finding what you love and speaks to you. That's how we ended up moving to Wimberley and finding what worked for us.  

What initially inspired you to start Arloom? Was there an “aha!” moment?
We first had the idea for a handbag company and had tossed around many ideas together.  That evolved into our brand after we spent time traveling and finding unique treasures from our travels, usually art or wearable pieces.  Our travels in Guatemala really launched our business idea as we fell in love with the textiles and culture and got so many compliments on our finds when we returned from traveling.  We went back to explore more and started developing relationships with artisans and soon thereafter launched our brand.  I guess the real "aha!" moment was confirming that we found something that spoke to us and felt really special and gained confidence to go for it when we received amazing feedback from friends and family.  

It seems that Guatemalan textiles & high quality leathers are one of your signatures, tell us about your creative process & designing each piece?
Once we fell in love with the textiles, the design process became a really fun adventure.  The textiles and history of how they are made and traditional practices fit right in with our ideals of embracing quality materials that are of heirloom quality. We wanted to really showcase the textiles in a way that matched their quality with the right materials.   There are so many creative artisans in Guatemala that create unique pieces but as we embarked on designing our products, we realized that the quality of supplies had to match the beauty of the artisan work.  That was not always easy to access in another country.  We refined our processes to make sure that we had control over what our final product looked like eventually ending up where we are today where we have more in house production on the textiles and handle every piece we create.   

Has the pandemic boosted your creativity? What are some ways it has impacted your business and lifestyle both good & bad?
The pandemic gave us time to refocus and really lean into the parts of our brand that are most important.  We work with many families that are collectors of huipils.  They work with people all around the country to source huipils.  During the pandemic we were able to continue working with these families and support individuals by keeping our operation going while tourism, a main source of income for these artisans and collectors, was completely shut down.  We developed new designs, redefined what we wanted to do and have moved forward successfully supporting more families and growing our partnerships during what was a very slow time in retail.  We enjoyed some slow time early on, but it didn't last long for us as we were able to continue working from home and keep our community in Guatemala working as well.  

You both have a special connection to Central America, what is the story behind that and how does it relate to your business model?
A love of travel and adventure led us to Central America, and Guatemala specifically, and it's pretty easy to say the rest is history.  Once you experience the beauty, culture and people it would be impossible to not feel connected.  We really love being able to share the culture and beautiful history of these vintage textiles with our customers.  Our goal is to create a modern and wearable repurposed vintage huipil that preserves the history and creates a beautiful and unique piece for the owner.  

arloom champions a slow fashion approach, give us some details on how you achieve this sustainable practice.
All of our textiles are vintage materials, so we begin our design process by repurposing an existing product.  The vintage huipils that we use are typically 15-20 years old and are in varying conditions and states.  We work directly with our families to hand select our tops and curate a collection that translates to our brand.  All of the tops have lived a past life and many of them show signs of this.  We work with each piece to clean, dye and process them before we re-sew into our tops.  We have a team of tailors/seamstresses that do all of our sewing here and each piece we create has been touched many times by all of our team.  The sustainability factor is a big part of our business as we support a resale market for ethically sourced and fair priced textiles.  

Once the travel ban is fully lifted across the globe, where do you plan to travel first?
We were fortunate to be able to visit Guatemala in June as they had opened up to tourism.  We were able to visit our families in their homes and have a lot of community time with them which was really special after the past year!  
 
We are expecting our third son very soon 😀 and are starting to plan the Great American Road Trip for next summer, mountains, national parks, etc.   Our travel will probably be limited a bit for a few years to more adventures in the states (which we are excited about!)  but also look forward to international travel with our family as they get a little older.  Peru, Spain and Italy are high on the list.