We had the good fortune of connecting with Julia Russ and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julia, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Prior to starting my own business, work life balance did not exist for me. I was working in New York for a small fashion label, and my entire life revolved around my job. I would work 10+ hour days, and would bring work home on the “weekends”. (This mostly included repairs for coats and clothing, which I could do while watching TV with my husband and our pups–All weekend long.) I would wake up at 3AM in a panic, remembering something I forgot to do earlier that day, pull out my phone, and send an email on whatever the task was so that I wouldn’t forget again. Yah–Not healthy. So, when I started my own business, having a work life balance was really important to me. It has taken time to commit to that balance, and there are still times when I’m incredibly busy and I completely throw that carefully planned balance out the window. But I make a conscious effort to keep it thriving, because I know I am at my best when I have that balance and I keep that commitment to myself.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
To me, sewing is an art. Pattern making is an art–With the medium being fabric. One of the things that sets my brand apart from others is that I am working with other small, female owned businesses–Brands that support the same causes I do, and have the same values. Our first dip into this venture was late last year, with the vegan, sustainable clothing line Vesta. The head designer at Vesta, Kendall, drew up a design that she wanted for her line, and I drafted the pattern for it. While I offer the sewing pattern & DIY kit for my site, she offers the ready-made design on her site. What I love about this process is that not only is it a process of women supporting women, but it gives our customers the option to not only support a small, female owned business–But to choose if they want to buy the design or attempt to make it. I don’t know of any other pattern making company that is doing the same thing. This most recent collaboration with Vesta is definitely one of the things I am most proud of. Not only do I love the fact that one of our sewing patterns is a Vesta design, but I love seeing one of my patterns in her actual clothing line. This is the first time that has ever happened for me, and it’s a bit surreal. While I would always throw in ideas for design tweaks at the label I worked at in New York, a design was never fully mine–Drafted down to the last detail. I think it’s something to be very proud of. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this wasn’t really what I set out to do when I started The Flora Modiste. I wanted to draft all of my own designs and sewing patterns–But I actually found more joy in drafting another designer’s ideas. So I think I would have to say that a BIG lesson I have learned with TFM is that you have to be able to pivot. While yes, it’s good to have a goal and an idea of where you want the business to go.. If it takes you down a different path, don’t resist it. Follow and see where it leads you.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
A few of my favorite spots in SD include: Getting a beer at the Wonderland Pub in Ocean Beach–Nothing beats that view, truly! There is also a smaller, more private beach in OB off of Santa Cruz that is my go to beach during the summer. Taking my dog, Teri, to Fiesta Island and walking along the beach. Ponce’s Restaurant, on the border of Kensington & Normal Heights, is the best Mexican food in all of San Diego, IMHO. June Shine is a must–Because hard kombucha. Need I say more? I prefer going to their smaller, more intimate tasting room in North Park. Cucina Urbana is one of my favorite restaurants in San Diego–It’s actually where we had our wedding rehearsal dinner, about 5 years ago now. The food is always fantastic, the wine is delicious, and you can go for a walk in Balboa Park right after dinner. A bit more on the expensive side, but it is absolutely worth it. There is so much more to explore in San Diego.. But those would be my tops picks.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
A book that had an unmistakable impact on my life is called “Finding Your Own North Star” by Martha Beck. When I was working in New York, prior to starting my business, one of my girlfriends that I worked with was reading this book. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but after leaving New York and finding myself a bit adrift once I arrived in San Diego, I somehow remembered the book. So I ordered it, and it changed my life. “Finding Your Own North Star” is a book for people that don’t know what to do with their lives, or what direction to go. Either they never knew what to do, or like me, what they thought they had always wanted (working at a fashion label in New York) actually wasn’t really what they wanted at all. The book helped me figure out what I actually loved about the fashion industry–And my business, The Flora Modiste, was born. I would be remiss to also not mention my husband, Paul. We have been together for over 12 years now–We were both teenagers when we first got together. While we have always been supportive of one another, Paul has been especially supportive the last few years in starting The Flora Modiste–I quite literally could not have done it without him.
Other: Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/thefloramodiste/