Eddy & Scout
Holly Willis, owner and designer, supports brick-and-mortar retailers with exclusive, customizable designs.
Nearly a decade ago, Holly Willis had a medical scare that made her realize life is too short not to make every day count. Unwilling to continue her life at an uninspiring desk job, she promised to herself she would follow her lifelong dream of becoming a fashion designer. Blending ambition, perseverance and a totally tricked out sewing machine, Willis made good on her promise, and a business was born.
Today, Willis is the owner and designer of Eddy & Scout, a childrenswear line inspired by her now 13-year-old son. Every piece is handmade in small batches with special attention to detail, from twirly skirts with pockets (“Penelope pocket” skirts) to cozy hoodies with kangaroo pouches and thumbholes (“adventure hoodies”). Eddy & Scout apparel is made of comfort-driven fabrics sourced in the U.S. and ethically manufactured in California, with all designs meant to last for two full sizes to ensure a superior value.
Originally launched in Denver, Eddy & Scout recently relocated to sunny Orange County, CA. “This was a new page of our adventure, and so far, I am loving it,” Willis says, reporting to be “happier than ever” waking up every day to a job that doubles as her passion. “Each day is a learning experience, and I could not be more thankful for my wonderful retailers and loyal customers for their support along the way.”
How did Eddy & Scout get its name? I was a wilderness guide for years. ‘Eddying out’ is a way to move away from the main current of a river and pause. After becoming unexpectedly ill, I needed to take a pause and figure out what I was going to do next with my life. I figuratively ‘pulled over’ to the side, and then it was time to ‘scout’—another term we use in exploring. In other words, survey the situation. Paralleling this idea, we as parents are guides for our children. From a social predicament at school to monsters in the closet—we are always there to pause, evaluate and lead our children down the safest path.
Where do you draw inspiration for your designs? Lots of people watching. I take note of children who look most comfortable. I remember what silhouettes and materials they’re wearing, so I can apply those ideas to my own collection. I also listen to what kids are saying about their clothes, from little girls chatting about their love for pink to little boys doting over cool pockets.
What trends of late have you admired? I don’t typically follow trends. My goal every season is to let kids be kids. I love whimsical and colorful—that’s why you’ll never find me making adultwear. Parents sometimes ask if I could make styles in adult sizes, but I say ‘nope!’ If I do womenswear, I’ll be forced to do black—that’s just not me. Childrenswear is its own special niche. Kids have the rest of their lives to wear black.
Anything in the pipeline for Eddy & Scout? Last Christmas, I read brick-and-mortar sales were down significantly, which is devastating to me. Those mom-and-pop boutiques are the ones that truly put heart and soul into their business. So while everyone is running to get online, I’ve decided to put my money toward creating something special for my brick-and-mortar retailers. Something that is not available in the mass market. I am simply sending out line sheets with silhouettes, and from there, retailers can choose how they want the preliminary designs to be finished. Colors, prints, sleeve treatments—whatever will fit their specific customers best. I’m beginning this venture with a total of twenty boutiques. The first delivery will be around February/March.
What’s your No. 1 piece of advice for fellow children’s fashion designers? If a child looks at something and says he won’t wear that, there’s no convincing him. Comfort is paramount to being the one thing in the closet a child continually wants to wear—the one thing that is constantly in the wash. I had one customer tell me that when her daughter was sick all she wanted to wear was her Eddy & Scout dress. It was her equivalent to pajamas but better because the dress made her feel like a princess—a very comfortable princess.
What’s your biggest challenge as a business owner? Trying to predict how much inventory to hold. It’s always tough to predict which one of your styles is going to take off. Sometimes certain designs that I didn’t expect to become popular really resonate with customers. For example, I designed several stylish, twirly dresses last year and one hoodie dress. To my surprise, the hoodie dress was the biggest hit. I made sure to produce a lot more this season in several different colors and prints.
What makes your clothing so comfortable? We typically use a cotton-spandex blend. The spandex is used for recovery purposes. I try to select as many natural fibers as possible, and stay away from polys. I also love to design flowy garments. I’m not the type to try to put a pencil skirt on a child. But that doesn’t mean we dumb down our designs for comfort.
When you’re not busy running your business, what do you like to do? I love to travel. My husband and I find that if we leave the country, we unplug best. It’s also nice to absorb a different culture. I find a lot of design inspiration that way. One of my favorite destinations would be Barbados—the slow lifestyle there is a nice change of pace.
What do you love most about your job? I love seeing a concept on paper come to life. I also love seeing a little girl or boy spin around with joy in an Eddy & Scout outfit that makes them feel confident and comfortable. It’s always exciting to hear stories from my retailers about how customers interact with my clothes.