Today we’d like to introduce you to April P. Chilcoat.
April, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My name is April Chilcoat, owner/designer/creator of Sew Chill; a homegrown online children’s boutique. I am 100% Filipino, born and raised by immigrant parents from the Philippines. While not working on Sew Chill, I teach part-time group fitness at LA Fitness where I teach cardio kickboxing, step-aerobics, and weights.
I am blessed with a handsome son who is 8 years old, Alexander Lee, and a beautiful sweet daughter, Genevieve Rose age 4.
As soon as I learned we were having a baby girl, I researched all things boutique especially clothing. When Genevieve was born, I joined several BST (buy, sell and trade) groups on Facebook where I learned about several boutique brands, while also meeting other online moms. By sharing Genevieve’s outfit daily (her #ootd), we naturally gained a following and became boutique clothing influencers. I became active in these groups and also became a “Jane” for a Matilda Jane trunk keeper (an online boutique brand).
When Genevieve turned 2 years old, I decided to take up local sewing classes and cut back part-time from my job as a senior tax accountant at Ernst & Young. After a year of sewing, I started selling small quantity designs/pieces on Facebook and Etsy to my friends and followers. I then was invited to be a guest designer for Zulily.com and that is when things changed. I knew there was no way for me to fulfill all my orders, hence I assembled a small team to help with local production while I continued designing. This was back in December of 2014.
…. So why “Sew Chill?” Before kids, my hubby’s nickname was “Chilly” and when we got married, I simply became Mrs. Chilly. It was only fitting that when we had our children Alexander and Genevieve, the moniker “Lil Chillies” came about.
“Comfort with Style” is my motto in all of my designs. While in Genevieve’s closet one day, her Daddy saw that she had a lot of pieces, yet still had nothing practical to wear for school, to play outside in and still be “boutique” stylish. Some of her pieces were too bulky, itchy and uncomfortable to be in all day. We also learned that Genevieve had sensory issues; she was mainly the happiest and most comfortable in soft knits. I LOVE LOVE dresses from various brands don’t get me wrong, but realistically these dresses just stayed in our closet for special occasions, holidays, pictures, one-time wear or places we would go that required no eating or playing … what’s the fun in that?! Here at Sew Chill, I truly strive for each child to be “sew chill” (ironic) in his/her pieces … yes, I now offer women’s and boy’s clothing!
Sew Chill pieces are made with great quality fabrics that are trendy, chic and most importantly comfortable. Each fabric is carefully handpicked from reputable vendors, and I am very proud to say that all pieces are handmade here in Dallas. Sew Chill is not only trendy and functional, but also affordable. “Chillies” (our customers) can be dressed in #comfortwithstyle every day of the week! Our clothing is not only Mom-approved but Dad-approved as I have received many compliments and emails how Dads love the practicality of Sew Chill clothing.
To date, I have over 7,000 members in our Sew Chill BST group where our customers interact by sharing pictures of their littles in Sew Chill. In this group, my customers can also resell their gently used pieces and certain brands of shoes. My customers also make online friendships with other moms who share the love for Sew Chill as well as interact personally with me. This is the most rewarding part of my job; the relationships built with other moms and seeing their beautiful children grow in Sew Chill. Makes my heart full!
Sew Chill online releases are typically on Thursdays at 7:45 pm CST where new stock loads on the website. Please JOIN our community Sew Chill BST on Facebook and follow us on Instagram @sewchilldesigns. My personal IG where I share fitness tips on clean-eating and exercise is @april.chilcoat.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been a smooth road for sure. I say this then and now, working for yourself is much much much harder than going to a 9-5pm job. My first year was definitely a learning curve which was expected, i.e. sourcing reputable fabric vendors, finding reputable local production teams while continuing to grow Sew Chill’s online social media presence. I wear many many hats and had many many nights of tears.
I have also met with 2 local investors and neither worked out. However, Sew Chill has been cash-flow positive since the beginning; it helped I was working on the side to help start my business. To this day, I am very proud to say that Sew Chill has no investor(s) to date; it has grown with good ol’ online, local and word of mouth support! I have my customers to thank.
Sew Chill is known for its excellent customer service. My team and I stand behind my pieces 100%. We repair pieces if needed even if it is the customer’s fault. I go above and beyond because without my customers Sew Chill would not be where it is at today in its 3rd year of business. It takes months to find a customer and only seconds to lose one.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Sew Chill – what should we know?
Sew Chill offers stylish and comfortable threads for boys, girls and women’s. For girls, I offer sizes newborn to size 14y. I am one of the very few boutiques who offer sizes 10y and up. Based on feedback, my older girl customers love the fabric options and flattering styles I offer which give them more variety to wear in school.
For boys, I offer sizes newborn to size 10y. I have many customers who have siblings and love the options for brother and sister to match! I plan to add size 12y and 14y in 2018.
Last but not least, starting Spring of 2017, I offered women’s tunics. Mother/daughter sets are simply adorable. My very first women’s piece is the tunic. It runs generous and based on feedback from my Moms; the tunics are flattering and beyond comfortable! If you haven’t tried one yet, please do I believe it will not disappoint. My daughter Genevieve LOVES when I match her.
What sets Sew Chill apart is the trendy yet simplicity in its product offerings, the exceptional customer service and the integrity and involvement of myself in the brand. I make every interaction count.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
My humility. A business can be successful one day and gone the next. I believe in being always humble, giving back and listening to your customers. A quote from Daymond John I always live by:
“Everything that you do is part of your brand.”
Cee Tran, Karissa Beth Photography, Shaylene Marie Photography, Tara Hayes Photography, Vanessa Verbeek