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Women-Owned Spotlight: Ellen Hockley-Harrison, Founder of Evergreen Activewear

Ellen Hockley-Harrison is the incredible mother, founder, and entrepreneur that launched Evergreen Activewear - a mission-driven sustainable maternity and postpartum activewear brand - at the height of COVID while she was pregnant with my son. Two and half years later the company is stronger than ever and Evergreen Activewear is leaving a lasting impression on the hearts (and bodies) of moms across the globe!

Before we dive into your story, tell me how you help cultivate confidence.

Through lots of hard work, continued support from friends and family, and believing in myself and my work. Plus, my kiddo also helps with a confidence boost when I need it most. It doesn’t always come easily, and it's not constant, but it perseveres.

What does being a woman-owned business mean to you?

I was raised in a family of entrepreneurs. I never even thought twice about being female and an entrepreneur--it seemed like the most natural path for me to take. I have found as my business grows there is such an immense gap in funding and opportunities for women founders, and I work every day to overcome that. Some day I'll do just that. Like Beyonce said, “Who runs the world, Girls!”

What was your business origin story?

I founded Evergreen Activewear during the early days of the COVID lockdown, while I was pregnant with my son. I have pretty much always been an entrepreneur and my previous company (event planning) had been hit really hard by the pandemic. I knew if I didn’t keep myself busy I’d fall into a deep dark hole, so I leaned heavily into my movement practice, and at first, that became my job. It was this time and experience that soon became the groundwork for Evergreen, I soon realized as I became more and more pregnant how few options there were for maternity activewear, let alone sustainable activewear, and I set out to change that. I had never worked in the apparel or fashion industry and had absolutely no concept of what went into building an activewear brand. I was lucky enough to work with a product and design team that helped to design, prototype, and manufacture our first product run to get Evergreen off the ground. There were so many ups and downs that first year, with my son being born the week I signed the contract to begin our designing to COVID setbacks, to rebuilding my events business and selling it while raising a brand new human and continuing to pursue Evergreen. Every day since has been an adventure, a challenge, and a gift.

Okay, coming up with a great idea and actually taking the steps to become an entrepreneur and launch your company are two very different things. How did you know it was time to start?

Honestly, I didn’t. I think there are so many steps that connect the two and yet sometimes they are blurred into one exciting endeavor. I was incredibly motivated by what I was working on, by bringing this idea to life. I initially started working with designers to help figure out the product and that spiraled into diving into the business full force and building the brand!

Sometimes entrepreneurship can be a hard and isolating journey. How do you stay confident along the way?

I would be lying if I said I was always confident; some days really knock you down, but what matters is that you get back up. Over the years I have spent a lot of time building a community and relationships, these folks support me through the really hard and isolating times.

If you had to list three traits or attributes that have been pivotal for your success, what would they be?

Resilient, Empathetic, Patient

What's one myth you'd like to debunk about your line of work?

That entrepreneurship is fun and easy and “you’re your own boss so you can do whatever you want.” It’s not for the light-hearted and it takes years to be successful, and overnight success is usually the result of a decade laying the groundwork. Also, Maternity leave is not a vacation!

What advice would you give to burgeoning entrepreneurs?

Listen to your gut, and if you believe it, you can make it happen. It’s a long hard road, but it's probably worth it, and if you fail, at least you tried.

What words do you live by?

Even at the darkest point of the night, the stars will shine bright. When you’re stuck and feeling alone, there’s always a way out, you just might need to look at it from a different perspective or take some time to get there.

Any final words of wisdom?

I continue to learn lessons every single day. I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the way is to trust your gut. Even when you’re not sure of the concept or the direction, if your gut is telling you something, listen. I’ve found time and time again when I don’t trust that inner voice I pretty much always regret it. Sometimes the mistakes are small, but they are setbacks and sometimes they throw you in an entirely different direction than you’d planned. I also think, asking for help! Don’t be afraid to look for resources and find folks in a similar space and bounce ideas off one another, I do it all the time and it keeps my band and my business running.