Today we’d like to introduce you to Beckee Wheelock.
Beckee, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Four years ago, I was working in Sales for a Tech Company in Chicago, living what I had always imagined would be “the dream”–I owned a cute condo, had a great paying job, lots of friends who I was traveling the world with–everything was pretty amazing… on paper. But in reality, I found myself living for the weekend, dreading Mondays, and feeling like I was in a hamster wheel that I had no idea how to get out of.
I started looking at ways to shake up my life, thinking that maybe if I switched jobs or moved to a new part of the city it would solve my problem. I happened to talk to a co-worker who mentioned some openings with our company in Southern California that might be a good fit, but it seemed like a crazy idea. I am a born and raised Chicagoan, so the thought of moving to Cali hadn’t even been on the table, but I remembered the quote I had just put up on the wall of my kitchen that said, “All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, and I promise you something great will come of it.”
I decided to summon that courage, and a few days later I found myself apartment hunting–90 days later I moved into an apartment by the beach in Orange County. This same quote has since informed many of my decisions since that day. While all of this was happening, a close friend was looking for someone to help edit a book he had written. I have a writing background, so I offered my help, and he and I spent 6 months working together on his book. It was so amazing to have a creative project happening in my life, and as difficult as it was to manage a new job, cross-country move, and the writing project I found myself craving more when it was done.
In July of 2015 I moved into a studio loft in DTLA, and since I didn’t know a single person, I threw myself into making my little loft feel like home. I started making all my own art and textiles for my place and ordered an indigo dye kit online to try and bring that California/beachy vibe to my cement walled studio. I fell in complete love and found the process meditative and relaxing. After a while, I ran out of things to die for my own house, so one night, on a whim, I opened an Etsy store and gave it the name The Indigo Tribe. Indigo is the color of the 3rd Eye/Ajna Chakra, and I loved the double meaning of my shop. I figured I would sell a few things to friends and family and maybe recoup the money I was spending buying things to dye.
Fairly soon after that, I started an Instagram dedicated to my new little shop, and some local LA makers reached out to invite me to sell at different events: art galleries, holiday markets, pop-up shops, etc. It began building steam, and less than 2 years later, in June of 2017, I left my corporate gig to focus full-time on The Indigo Tribe. I have filled hundreds of online orders, shipping as far away as Australia and England, sold at dozens of festivals and fairs, and am currently scaling my business to grow and expand even further! It is truly more than I could’ve imagined.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It’s funny because I just had a discussion with a friend about the use of the word “struggle” when it comes to being a creative entrepreneur. She doesn’t care for the use of the word, but I guess my perspective on the subject is that I feel like it’s OK to admit to being in over your head sometimes. I’m a human, I struggle, I encounter obstacles, but I really believe that every struggle is an opportunity to either give up or level up.
I spent the first year and a half after starting my company working full-time at my day job, and as soon as the day ended I would turn my desk chair around to my sewing machine and work on The Indigo Tribe, sometimes until 4 or 5 am. Weekends were spent selling at in-person events instead of relaxing and recharging my battery. For the first 8 months, I didn’t take a single day off. My sleep suffered, I was burning the candle at both ends, and all of my work eventually began to suffer. I was definitely struggling.
All I wanted to do was work on my creative projects, shop for textiles, sew, create… but I couldn’t figure out how to make that happen when I was working and traveling for 50+ hours a week. Eventually, I found the courage to leave my day job and allow myself the abundance of freedom that comes with it. But with the abundance of time, there are things I had to leave behind too. Knowing that I have shifted my definition of “success”, and constantly revisiting that idea gets me through the times where I hit a rough patch. I have unwavering belief that I will continue to show up for myself, and I keep proving it to be true.
Please tell us about The Indigo Tribe.
The easiest description I can give for The Indigo Tribe is that my brand and I are kinds of one and the same.
Everything I make or do is because in some way it is an extension of who I am as a person. The indigo dyed pieces came about organically because I was making things for my own home. I am astrologically a Cancer Sun and Moon, and home and comfort is super important to a Cancer. I am no exception. I love cozy pillows and blankets, I have a drawer full of meditation and sleep masks (which I also sell), and love to curl up surrounded by beautiful things. I am inherently a city girl but have always been a hippie at heart. I think that everything I make kinda falls into that realm. Everything that ever makes it to my website is something I either do or would have in my own home, or that I use on a regular basis. Plus I’m from the Midwest so I keep it affordable!
What sets my business apart is that I really try to sprinkle a little magic into everything I make. I realize that sounds corny, but I think we all have enough “stuff” around us that kind of exists or serves a purpose, but doesn’t bring us any real joy… and that’s okay, but when you buy something of mine, a little extra love has gone into it. I personally pick out each textile, I dye in small batches, by hand, with no extra chemicals or detergents. My dyed pieces get to line dry in the California sunshine surrounded by a flower and vegetable garden. My home is also my studio, surrounded by fruit and palm trees and butterflies–I try to keep the vibe high.
I sew 95% of what I make by hand, and when I have to outsource it’s to an amazing small manufacturer located here in LA. I go there personally and visit with the people I’m working with. I hand write a thank you with every order I ship because I truly am super crazy grateful! It’s a much slower, more intentional and purposeful way of working. It makes me happy to know that someone out there is snuggling up with something I made with my own two hands!
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
This will be my shortest answer: Nothing. Every decision brought me to this moment so I wouldn’t go back and change a single thing.
- Website: www.theindigotribe.com
- Phone: 312-952-6879
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/theindigotribe
- Facebook: facebook.com/theindigotribeLA
- Other: pinterest.com/tindigotribe