Rachel dug up the old sewing machine from the basement and 8 hours, 5 Band-Aids and 2 pots of coffee later the hand-sewn prototype, which would eventually become PakRat, was born. Elissa started wearing her new “welcome home” gift to the gym, bars, concerts, literally everywhere and made Rachel jealous. Everywhere Rachel looked, she found another use for her sister’s cool new accessory. She HAD to have one. So it was back to the sewing machine.
Designed after our favorite (and VERY flattering) foldover leggings, we couldn’t wear our (soon to be) PakRats enough. People would stop us and ask “what is that thing” and “where did you get that”. Soon our friends started putting in their orders and we knew we were onto something amazing.
Our dad is a serial entrepreneur, so it was in our blood. Rachel started her first company when she was 8 years old. She started a rollerblading class teaching Elissa and her friends how to rollerblade on our very long, curvy driveway. She was paid in nail polish and lip gloss – an 8 year old’s dream. Her next business started in college – creating hand-made fashion headbands. She went around with samples of headbands to every boutique in Bloomington, IN where she went to school, and one of the hottest boutiques in Bloomington picked them up.
After returning from her adventures abroad, Elissa was still unemployed, recovering from culture shock and slowly adjusting to life in the real world and Rachel had just quit her corporate job and moved back to Chicago. We both moved back in with our parents and decided we had to figure out a way to start this business. Our dad manufactures electronics and jumped at the chance to hire us to assemble his products in the warehouse. By day we were assembling consumer electronics and learning about running a small business and by night we were sewing, designing, and testing our product.
Having both studied Journalism at Indiana University, we had no idea where to start in manufacturing and designing apparel. So we did what any recent college graduates would do – hit the books. We devoured books on the apparel industry, commercial sewing, watched countless YouTube tutorials, and began our crash course in apparel design and manufacturing. 30 prototypes and countless revisions later, we finally had our design down and were ready to find a factory to produce our product. We toured and interviewed over a dozen factories, in search of the perfect partner for our startup. We finally thought we found it – in the Midwest only an 8 hour drive from Chicago. It was important for us to manufacture in the U.S. so we could better understand the process and maintain the highest quality for our product.