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.
As someone who has ordered several kits this year, I can attest that I feel the love that goes into them. Thank you Carra-Ellen for helping me make such beautiful gifts for my friends…and a few for me too.
I was fortunate enough to meet Cara- Ellen at the last workshop I attended at Alabama Chanin; she was an extremely helpful, talented, and above all kind and joyful person. Being in her presence was an instant mood-booster:). I’m so happy to see her have her own day on the AC Journal. Thanks!
I love learning about the Heart of Alabama Chanin! I wish so much that I was closer so that I could stop by and spend time with all of you. It’s been a long time now since my wonderful week in Florence, and so much has changed yet you are still so true to your concept and philosophy. Your Journal is a gift to those of us who can’t visit with you in person. Thanks so much for sharing a glimpse into the life of Cara-Ellen today.
There is something about knowing who’s hands touched the piece I am working on that somehow gives it a gentle feel. Thanks for sharing its journey with me…and the prayer.
Thank you for opening your doors in this personal way. I have had email and phone contact which have been warm and supportive. It is so nice to see the face and spirit behind these contacts. I too wish I was closer and dream of the day when I can come visit and learn. In the meantime The Journal and Stitching sustain me.
Thank you All.
What a wonderful young lady! It was very obvious to me when my daughter and I visited last year that Carra-Ellen was indeed in love with sewing and all things Alabama Chanin! You have a fabulous team!