Artisans + Crafters: Erika Wooldridge
Pursuing a dream can be exhilarating and stressful, but Erika Wooldridge took the plunge two years ago to become a fashion designer and start her business, Vintage Van Stella. Erika worked for 25 years as a customer service call center manager but wanted to break away and try something completely different. “I put my faith in God and followed His lead,” she says. “I had great support from my family.”
Erika began her business by making necklaces using men’s neckties. Initially, it was a way to utilize the accessories worn by her deceased stepfather. “After he passed away we didn’t know what to do with all of these ties,” she says. “We didn’t want to make a blanket or a quilt, so I made the necktie necklaces as a way to commemorate him.” The fashion caught on, and soon others were asking her to make necklaces for them as well. Currently, her necktie necklaces can be found at Treehouse Artisans & Merchants on Shelbyville Road.
Erika’s next fashion project involved pairing plaid shirts with vintage band T-shirts. “In January 2018 I saw a show on TV where this girl was wearing a flannel shirt with something printed on the back. I got the idea that it would be cool to take those flannels, distress them, and pair them with band T-shirts,” she says. “It gave me the motivation to think how cool would it be to wear something with Stevie Nicks or Dolly Parton on them, and I just started making them.” She works with customers every step of the way, from showing them the shirts she uses to how they will pair together.