Emily Haley, started her journey last year to bring the textile industry back to North Carolina. After having worked on a business plan for months, the Rocky Mount native launched her own business doing monogram, appliques and embroidery. Fueled by her desire to have readily available traditional clothing to dress her young boys, Haley realized she would have to make the type of clothing for which she was looking.
With a law degree from Campbell University, Haley did not have a background in the textile or design industry but realized this was where her passion was. She researched all aspects of the industry and attended classes on how to use her embroidery equipment to perfect her craft.
“I didn’t want to dress them like teenagers when they’re 4. I want them to look like little boys as long as they can,” she said.
Using a computer program to design the appliques and an embroidery machine to stitch the designs, Haley stays busy designing children’s clothes and a variety of other items and accessories such as bookbags, lunchboxes, hats and sleeping bags. After learning about the apparel and manufacturing industry, Haley started to think more about where her children’s clothes came from and who made them. Although there are many places where products are produced where the working conditions are fine, many countries still have unsafe working conditions, Haley said. She said she knew that the items she was buying cost pennies to make.
“At the height of my frustration, I was working directly with the wholesale company out of China, and I was buying dresses that I knew that I was getting ready to turn around and sell for $50, and I was buying them for $4 a piece,” Haley said. “Everyone just assumes that the textile industry in the U.S. is dead because you can make stuff so much cheaper in other countries.”
Haley knew there was a market for a locally based textile and manufacturing company in North Carolina.
After joining the Carolina Textile District, a locally based group dedicated to bringing the textile industry back to the United States, the group helped Haley find a factory and pattern maker to make her designs.
Haley’s goal is to eventually have a small line with three outfits for boys and three outfits for girls. She said she wants to make her first few items centered around themes that are characteristic to North Carolina such as fields of cotton, blue trucks, birds and airplanes.
Becky Barnett, a longtime friend of Haley’s, buys a lot of her children’s clothing from her.
“I like that I can kind of sit down with her and design my children’s clothes, and then she shows me the fabrics that she has, and we kind of work together to pick out things for them, Barnett said. I would love for her to get her own line, to have different styles to choose from.”
Barnett said Haley’s clothes are very affordable compared to what is being offered for children at other places and her appliques and monograms are of high quality – they last even after washing them.
Inspired by her sons’ middle names, Augustus and Argyle is the monogramming side of her business and customers can go to augustusandargyle.com to purchase monogrammed items.
Haley said her summer intern Elizabeth Lane gave her the push she needed to move out of her small home office and into a bigger space. A rising sophomore at Wake Forest University, Lane said she thinks Haley’s plan to start her own company has a lot of potential. Lane said she cares about the work that she is doing as an intern for Haley.
“The internship gave me a first-hand experience working with a start-up company and going through all the ups and downs and challenges, but also the victories. I think the internship was really rewarding because we worked really hard on growing the company and the Kickstarter campaign,” Lane said.
Haley said the benefits of having an intern were mutual.
“It was a learning process for both of us because I had never been anyone’s real boss like that before, and she had never had a job like this before, so we both learned a lot this summer. And I think we both grew a lot,” Haley said of her work relationship with Lane.
Haley’s Kickstarter campaign started Friday with her goal being to raise $20,000 to manufacture her fall line. Kickstarter is a way to fund independent, creative projects. People can go to Haley's Kickstarter webpage and donate money to support Haley’s project.
Kickstarter, however, is all or nothing. If $20,000 is not raised in full then Haley will not receive any of the money and donors will get all of their money back.
There are different incentives for each donation made. For a $5 pledge the donor will receive a thank-you card, a $10 donation will get a bar of hand-made soap from the Bath Place in Rocky Mount and a $20 donation will get a child’s applique T-shirt of the state of North Carolina.
The top donation of $2,500 or more comes with an incentives package that includes a two-night stay in Eastern North Carolina, a day designing your child’s three outfits, a second day to pick out bath soaps from the Bath Place, dining and T-shirts.
Haley said she wants to bring jobs back to the area and employ people from the community.
She said she hopes to be able to do that one day.
“I know it’s a gamble. I know $20,000 is a lot of money, but I’ve done a lot of research.”
To visit the website for Haley’s manufacturing business, go to www.augustusandargyle.com.
Her business also has a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AugustusAndArgyle.