My name is Anna Louise and I own Bow + Arrow, a custom denim business in the River Arts District of Asheville, North Carolina. I love my studio by the river, and am seriously grateful for this rambunctious community of artists and entrepreneurs.
Each of my designs begins with an idea and a sketch. From there I make a pattern, cut it out, and sew it up. Sometimes it’s right the first time, but usually it takes several tries to achieve exactly what I want. Once I’ve perfected the pattern, I make changes to the original for custom orders, based on each client’s measurements.
I love making women feel great in what they’re wearing. Shopping for jeans can be such a demoralizing process, and owning a perfect pair can be so satisfying. Generally speaking, it’s awesome to displace bad feelings with good ones, and I’m glad to be a part of that process, even if I’m just making jeans.
Making custom jeans also appeals to my neurotic side — I can geek out on fractions while I work out the patterns, and hone in on the details while I’m sewing. In hindsight, I think the development of my business has been more compulsive than decisive, even though I’ve had to make tough decisions along the way. I think all artists do this. We give in to our compulsions, instincts, and intuitions, and it makes our lives look different than others.
All of the denim I use is grown, processed, woven, and dyed here in the states by an affiliate of the American Cotton Grower’s Association. The decision to source US materials drastically reduces my carbon footprint and that of my clients. Sustainability and conscious consumerism are homegrown, collective efforts that link us all to one another through the choices we make. From the fibers I choose to your decision to buy handmade, we’re all in this together.
Etsy is such a radical venue for the exploration of creative and entrepreneurial endeavors. It’s a low risk, high exposure opportunity for each of us to give our instincts a solid chance. We learn what works and what doesn’t. Ultimately, we grow as businesses, individuals, and communities.
The opportunity to develop both as an individual and a business has changed my life dramatically. I feel more affirmed and validated. I surround myself with other folks who make things all the time, like Brandon Skupski, Melissa Weiss, and Karie Reinertson. I find a deep reciprocity within my community. Daily, my gratitude swells.
All photographs by Bow and Arrow Apparel.