Nestled in the heart of downtown Mount Vernon, elSage Designs is your go-to shop for locally made art, textiles, jewelry, beauty products, and various other gifts. You’ll also find an assortment of screen-printed clothing made and designed by the store’s owners, Phoebe Carpenter Eells and her husband Jonathan. The store also runs a beautiful website, making it easy to shop from home.
From Kitchen Table to Career
Carpenter Eells was a full-time teacher before her first son came along in 2009. After his birth, she started crafting linocuts, sheets of linoleum that are carved with small knives to create stamps, at her kitchen table. She instantly fell in love with the craft.
“[My work] actually started as artwork,” Carpenter Eells says, “and then I heard enough times, ‘You should put that on a T shirt!’ and so I gave that a try.”
In 2010, Carpenter Eells decided to turn her hobby into a career. The result was elSage Designs. Ten years later, she hasn’t looked back. She’s proud that she’s been able to transform her passion into a business.
“We’re an example of paying your bills with your small business dreams” Carpenter Eells says. “So the thing that started on the kitchen table turned into something that supported both my husband and I… It’s cool, it’s fun. It’s fun to grow. And it’s fun to encourage other people to follow their dreams.”
Community Over Competition
For Carpenter Eells, it’s not enough to talk about environmental issues — she wants to put her ideology into action. That’s why elSage participates in a program called “One Percent for the Planet,” an organization started by one of the founders of the outfitter Patagonia. Participating businesses donate 1 percent of earnings to nonprofits that work to preserve the natural world.
“I think the environment is the ultimate thing that we should all be concerned about,” Carpenter Eells says. “If there’s no investment, our future looks pretty grim.”
As Carpenter Eells became integrated into the community of Skagit County makers and artists, she wanted to find a way to connect creative people with others who shared similar passions. In 2017, elSage began hosting the Valley Made Market, a monthly market for Skagit-based makers who want to sell their art and build community. You can learn more about Valley Made Market on Instagram @valleymademarket.
“We’re more about the community piece — the community over competition,” Carpenter Eells says. “[We’re] kind of bringing everybody up together.”
Spread Cheer with elSage Online
With in-person retail shopping limited, it’s even more important to support local businesses if you can. The best way to do it? Shop online! You can browse for and purchase a wide selection of elSage’s items on their website. The online store has plenty of offerings, from clothing and handbags to smaller gift items like notebooks, greeting cards, and beautiful beaded jewelry.
Speaking of gifts, if you want to surprise someone in your life who could use a bit of cheer, elSage is currently running a Surprise Box promotion. At a variety of price points ($10-$75), elSage will curate a box of goodies and then ship them to someone you love. All boxes receive at least 20% off, meaning a $25 surprise box will receive $32+ worth of items.
“People are experiencing decision fatigue — and just regular fatigue fatigue — so this is meant to take the guesswork out of gift giving,” Carpenter Eells says.
If you’d like something a little more personalized, you can also offer details about the box’s recipient, such as ‘dog-lover’ or ‘feminist’ or ‘loves the outdoors.’ With everything going on in the world, don’t forget to treat yourself — order your own box for a happy, gift-wrapped surprise on your doorstep. Order online or over the phone.
410 S. 1st St., Mount Vernon, 360.588.4723, shop.elsagedesigns.com
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