If you have purchased an Alabama Chanin garment or DIY kit in the last year or so, there is a chance that the fabric in your hands was also touched by Carra-ellen Russell. Carra-ellen is our Production Manager and is present at the beginning of most of the things that we make; she starts each garment and kit on its journey by cutting them and passing them along to the next phase. Pieces come back to her once they have been painted, where she helps package them with the proper notions and supplies to be given to one of our stitchers or to be shipped as a DIY kit.
Carra-ellen came to us about a year-and-a-half ago, through the suggestion of our Director of Design and Special Services, Olivia. As we were growing and looking for well-organized team members, Olivia reached out to her friend, asking her to apply to be part of our production staff. Her transition into our staff happened quite naturally after that; she says that working at The Factory was meant to be.
Carra-ellen was born and raised here in Florence and graduated from the University of North Alabama with a degree in Business Marketing. She laughs that she hasn’t “technically” used her degree, save for an unsuccessful two-month stint selling insurance. Prior to working at Alabama Chanin, she worked at Thread, a beautiful and locally-owned fabric store, so her love for fabric and making was already developed.
She is incredibly close to her family, something that becomes obvious once you’ve spent just a little time around her. She claims her sister (who is also her roommate) as her best friend. Carra-ellen grew up surrounded by a family of makers. Her grandmother and her mother both cultivated her love of sewing; her grandmother was a devoted quilter and her mother was a productive seamstress, making many of her clothes and childhood costumes.
Because of these influences, Carra-ellen knew at a very young age that sewing would be important to her for her entire life. She loves making woven garments on the sewing machine and by-hand. She also cross-stitches and reads what she jokingly calls “chick lit novels.” Carra-ellen’s faith is very important to her and informs her life choices. She has attended the same church for her entire life and has created a strong family within that community.
It is obvious to her co-workers that Carra-ellen loves where she is – physically, spiritually, and emotionally. She is doing what she’s always wanted to do – creating things with her hands each day. She says, “To me, there’s something so natural about that. I like the idea of knowing that something beautiful I helped create is going to bring someone else joy. Just as Natalie says to ‘love your thread,’ I love my cutting. Every time I cut something out, I say a prayer for the person that placed the order; I try to put as much love into my work as possible.”
Carra-ellen Russell – part of the heart and soul of Alabama Chanin.