Becca Premo is likely Arlington’s only clothing maker who specializes exclusively in baby shoes.
Premo, 25, runs The Bashful Elephant, an online baby moccasin seller through the website Etsy. Premo has been selling “baby mocs,” as she calls them, on Etsy since March.
Premo moved to Arlington when her husband got a job in the D.C. area, but she had already set the wheels in motion for her new career path, designing patterns and styles in the Windy City. She had been studying psychology at Roosevelt University when the artistic side of her started to get restless.
“My parents encouraged me to pick a practical career path, so I picked psychology and stifled my creative self,” she told ARLnow.com over coffee at Cosi in Rosslyn. “I felt like I was in a box.”
Premo started to look for ways to express herself and turn it into a business. Sewing and crafts “have always been in my family,” the Chicago area native said, so she decided to make shoes. Baby shoes were a natural choice, since less material makes it cheaper to get started.
“It’s easier to make baby sizes,” she said, “and you can be more creative. You can make a bright pink shoe with bows and people love it.”
It took her months to get an array of patterns and designs she was happy with, she said. Even though making the shoes is “super user-friendly,” she admitted she was nervous to actually hit the market.
“I was scared to start for a long time,” she said. “I felt I needed to present it as a serious business, but I found out people want a personal touch. They want to know your story.”
Once Premo launched the store, she got immediate interest and drew a following on Instagram, where she says she attracts a majority of her customers.
More than six months in, she offers shoes for newborns up to size 7, which she says is approximately for toddlers 2-and-a-half years old. Because her customer base is constantly growing, she said she’s considering growing along with it; she is looking into purchasing rubber soles and making bigger shoes.
“There’s a huge market for people who are willing to spend,” she said. “Lots of people have a lot of money, and they would rather spend it on their children than on themselves.”
While she was making her point, a male stranger walked by and asked about the dozen or so shoes laid out on the table. He was a new father, and just like that, Premo’s point was made, and she had another customer.
“I’ve never gotten any negative feedback, thank goodness,” she said. “When you put yourself out there, people see you’re just a girl trying to do something, and they really latch onto that.”