We had the good fortune of connecting with Amy Yellis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amy, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I am a Phoenix native. We feature a lot of cactus prints in our clothing line – and I love to represent our gorgeous natural landscapes. I’ve shipped cactus-print clothes all over the world! My bachelors degree is actually in church ministry. I learned to both preach and teach, as well as balance a budget and hire staff. It’s been oddly helpful as a small business owner! And then I went back and got an MBA in 2015 when I was pregnant with my daughter. That education has been invaluable with navigating an international supply chain and some of the more technical sides of business like financials and legal paperwork.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My clothing line, Southwest Legging Co., is comfy lounge-wear like joggers, t-shirt dresses, and leggings, all made with custom printed fabric. We license artwork from local artists and design some ourselves. It means our items are truly unique and limited edition. We love everything colorful, and tend to feature cactus and cute animals. We also love watercolor textures and florals. The clothing line started as a little experiment. I was working as bookkeeper at the time, and crazy printed leggings were just becoming popular. But they tended to be poor quality, difficult to buy, and I felt like they could be a lot prettier. So I set out to make something better. About four hundred pairs of leggings into that experiment (and four months or so), I lost my day-job. I’ve never looked back! Starting a small business, especially one that carries inventory, can be really challenging, because you have to use most of your income to buy more inventory. Early on, I read the book Profit First. We maintain several different bank accounts for the business, and as sales come in, the monies get split between these accounts based on a percentage. So I can easily see how much cash we have on hand to purchase inventory vs pay bills. It really helps keep us on track financially to grow the business and not over-spend in any one area.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
When we have friends visit Phoenix, it’s so much fun to show them the local sights! Our all-time favorite is the Phoenix Zoo. Our kids love petting the goats and walking through the monkey exhibit! We also don’t miss a chance to take the kids to the Children’s Museum. We also love hitting up downtown areas – so we would probably go shopping at Moondust Farms in downtown Mesa to see local handmade goods and art. That’s where a lot of great restaurants are too! Brunch at Snooze or BBQ at Joe’s are some of our regular stops. We also love spending an afternoon painting pottery or glass fusing at Burst of Butterflies.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would love to dedicate my shout out to my mom. Her name is Kathy, and she has been behind me in growing my business since the start. When everyone else in my life said starting a clothing brand was crazy and wouldn’t be successful, she said it was a good idea. She comes with me to all my events, loading and unloading our show booth equipment with me. She unpacks and organizes new inventory when it arrives. She packs the majority of our orders shipping out. I would not still be in business without her.
The group photos are taken by Erin DeZago, individual photos by Meghan Bremer