20 Under 40: Abbey Samuelson exudes passion for fashion, sustainability
Under owner Abbey Samuelson’s creative and innovative eye, Winter Park’s Lavender Elephant, which started as a small clothing repairs business, has blossomed into a multifaceted retailer that encourages customers to consider how they consume and provides a space for local artists.
Combining her passions for sustainability and fashion, Samuelson has expanded her services to include design work, youth mentorship, teaching art classes, branding and hosting events such as fashion shows and an annual cowgirl camp.
“She has equal passions for helping the environment, empowering other women through knowledge, creativity, and beauty, educating the community, and providing a much-needed service,” Samuelson’s nominator wrote. “She creates apparel from a space of deep creativity and helps women feel and look their best.”
Name: Abbey Samuelson
Profession: Designer, textile specialist, clothier
Education: Bachelor’s of science in textile science and agriculture with a focus on apparel design from Louisiana State University
Place of Employment: Lavender Elephant
What problem would you like to solve?
Textile waste and consumer mindset.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Still designing innovatively with better adventures and work-life balance and a family of staffing because I don’t just want staff, I want a family. I want to be able to come into work and know that my employees are having a good time, like I do. It’s stressful, but I’ve had fun. I’m living my dream job.
Who’s your hero and why?
It’s probably my mom and my grandma because I think about how they got food on the table and still made it look fun. Running a family and having kids is a job too and I don’t have that right now, so I imagine when I do start my family and I’m doing this, it will be pretty challenging.
What is it about your generation that sets it apart?
I am similar to millennials in the way that I’m doing what does make me happy. I think that’s popular with our generation. What sets me apart is how I’ve done it as a business. I think the sustainable, innovative end of my business wasn’t cool three years ago, but now it’s cool, so now I feel like if anything people should go with what satisfies them because you never know what the economics are going to do.
Why did you choose Grand County?
I was in Hollywood before I was here, so I had a pretty picture of contrast of what life could be like. I knew it would be hard to pick here because it wasn’t as accessible to the fashion industry as I had in Hollywood, but Grand County highlighted my strengths and I took advantage of that.
How do you like to play in Grand County?
Rafting, I love it when I can do it. I spend a lot of time working for people that play, which makes it tough, but this was the first year that I got on the mountain and had fun — skiing — and then did backcountry.
What kind of future do you see for your industry in Grand County?
I have such a beautiful curated collection of goods that I could supply each customer market in Grand County. That being said, that’s just the customer market, that’s not the online market and online sales and retail. My basic sewing services and bulk orders, that department is growing because all the commercial businesses are growing. From the weddings to the classic sewing services, each one is growing, so I really think I’ll be able to provide a space to create for other artists to experience what I’m doing in the fashion and wearable world. Everyone wears clothes so I’ll have business until we become a nudist colony.
If you could change one thing about Grand County, what would it be?
I haven’t actually thought about that. I don’t think I would change anything at the moment. I think it’s already changing constantly, so I think supporting that change and observing and voicing your concerns and appreciation when it comes up is important right now.
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