Right off the Coast Highway in Oceanside, you’ll find the cutest little shop co-op. One of those shops is Rais Case and I had the pleasure of interviewing the head lady behind the designs of the beautiful bags, Julie Ellis! Julie happens to also be a momma of two children so learning more about how she manages her business and home life was inspiring!
Here’s the goods
You were a teacher, and wanted to make yourself a laptop bag and so you did. Prior to that did you make anything like that for yourself?
Julie: “Starting in college I tapped into that creativity and I was just crafting and crafting always. As an art teacher, I was always doing projects on the side, I was painting. When I sewed the laptop case for myself I thought it was so great, I loved it so much. From the first batch of 10 that I made I actually still have one and this was back in 2010!”
Where do you get inspiration for the design of your bags?
Julie: “The shape of the bags is sort of selfishly what I need for myself and what I’m using in my life and there’s a need for. With the laptop case, I needed those for a while so that’s what I was making and at the markets I was selling at I needed a fanny pack. As I was wearing the fanny pack, I got a lot of interest in it so I started taking orders for them and I named it after the customer who bought the first one, Vida.”
What do you enjoy most about being a business owner and designer?
Julie: “Currently, I’m getting a lot of joy out of the DIY table that we have in the store. People are coming in and making things themselves and right now I’m trying to figure out how to build that into my business a little more. It ties into my art teaching and the way I used to teach where I would put materials out and give some ideas and just let the students create.
As far as bags, it’s funny but I think everyone can relate where they go in and out of being inspired. I started Rais Case out of the joy in creating and I want to really just stay true to that. I think that getting a sewing machine in the shop and messing around more and really getting creative.”
What is some advice you would give to someone wanting to get started, whether it be fashion accessories or just a business?
Julie: “I would say that it’s super easy to see what everyone else is doing and thinking “oh I can do this” or “I can do that” but instead of letting that lead you just listen to yourself and what you want to do, what is authentic to you, and what feels right. The little whispers are what you should use to guide you, the inner force in yourself will get you through all of the obstacles.”
How do you juggle being a momma of two and the owner of Rais Case?
Julie: “I’m not gonna lie, it is very hard. Those are my two worlds and there isn’t much outside of that. I do socialize a bit and have a good set of friends, but it’s a lot. Having a good support system is definitely a key thing.
I get away with working 2 and a half days physically in the shop working and then the other 2 and half days and weekends. I will say that in your head you’re thinking about all of the work and business stuff whether you’re here physically or not.”
What was the reasoning behind being a fashion brand that is about being sustainable with their products and resources? Do you think it’s harder than being more of a “fast fashion” brand?
Julie: “You know I think that it’s easier if you can because you are hands-on with everything. Part of it is that it’s the only thing I know since I build Rais Case from the ground up without a grand scheme. What I’ve learned is that quality is very important, if I’m gonna make something I want to make sure that it’s gonna last and not cut corners. Sourcing materials that will last can be hard to do because there’s a lot of crap out there. So finding fabrics that don’t tear and wear and leather and hardware that’s solid has been a fun evolution. As far as manufacturing I’ve been lucky enough to find someone in San Diego that I’ve been working with for four years now that is able to cut and sew and make all of my bags.”
If you want to visit Julie and buy one of her amazing bags or get crafty at the DIY table then stop by her store located at 1834 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside, California. You can also follow along with Rais Case on their Instagram.
I hope you enjoyed this edition of the “Living as” series! Let me know in the comments what type of lady boss I should interview next!