As most of you already know, Chibella is one of our favorite brands in the shop. Their pieces are not only on-trend, but they’re also playful, fun, and totally out-of-the-box. We were lucky enough to chat with Chibella’s leading lady, Shelley Ermigarat, about the launch, how she gets inspired, and what’s next for the brand. Read on for more!
How did Chibella come about?
Chibella was created after its founder, Doug Cooper, came across the work of a family of knitters in an artisan village in Mexico. Soon after, he began importing and wholesaling some of their children's sweaters and accessories in the United States, naming the line Chibella after his grandmother. I began working as Chibella's sales rep in 2004. The vibrant colors and unique, handmade quality of the chunky merino sweaters made the line a favorite fall staple in upscale children's boutiques across the country. In 2005, Cooper decided to move on to new projects and interests, although he still believed in the company's potential. He wanted to see the line continue and grow, so he generously handed the company over to me to see how I could develop it. Today, the line has expanded into a much larger selection of hand knit and crocheted sweaters and accessories, hand embroidered Mexican dresses, and most recently, trucker hats.
Did you have experience in the industry beforehand?
I had less than a year of experience in the children's fashion industry as a sales rep before taking over ownership of Chibella. I also had no previous experience with manufacturing or designing.
Your pieces are hand-knit and hand-dyed. Can you tell us a little bit about this process?
Chibella utilizes a team of knitting and crocheting artisans based in Mexico. They start with the best quality merino wool and have it cleaned and spun. They then dye the wool by hand using plant and aniline dyes. The hand dying process gives the wool a variance in color which we love. Each garment has its own perfectly-imperfect, original look which our customers seem to really appreciate.
How do you get inspired?
I get inspired by normal, every day occurrences. I guess that's what happens when you love what you do. I've been inspired to create hat designs from phrases my children use with their friends. One hat design came from the most adorable little note my daughter wrote to me. Another sweater was designed after my daughter didn't want to give back one of my sweaters she borrowed on a chilly day. I can see a billboard, a Pinterest pin, a greeting card, you name it - almost anything in my daily life can lead to inspiration.
What's been your biggest best-seller?
Our knits! I think customers appreciate the time and love that went into a hand knit item.
Who is the Chibella kid?
The Chibella kid loves to have fun, act silly, and spend time outdoors.
Who is the Chibella parent?
The Chibella parent is active, stylish, creative, and practical.
Your trucker hats are so fun! How do you come up with the super-cute sayings?
Most of the designs come from my own children and their friends. I try to keep the vibe playful, positive and upbeat. The hats are great for year-round but are an essential for a day at the beach. Many of our designs have a vintage beach feel to them.
What's next for the brand?
For now, the plan is to focus and expand on our current products. Who knows though - If inspiration hits at the right time, a new product could be added to the line.
Ready to shop? We thought so! Click here to shop our best-selling Chibella pieces and stay tuned for next month's Vendor Love feature!