Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
My name is Nelly Gavrilov and I currently live in San Francisco. I’ve been a bit of a nomad the past few years with moves from Oklahoma to San Francisco, to Southern California, then Martha’s Vineyard, and back to San Francisco. I also traveled across South East Asia for three months, and road-tripped across America twice. In 2017 I started a made-to-order clothing business, and it was challenging with all the moves and traveling, but I was able to make it work for almost 3 years. I recently decided to put a pause on my clothing business to settle into life in San Francisco, although I still make pieces by request.
Why do you sew?
I sew because it allows me to bring my ideas to life from start to finish. I love the entire process from the imagination, the design, to the final product. I originally started making myself a closet full of basics and staples, and as important as those are I found that I have more joy creating artful, singular, and unique pieces into existence.
What do you like to listen to when you’re working (and why)?
I love listening to podcasts if I’m sewing during the day whether it’s about business, true crime, self-improvement, or comedy, listening to podcasts helps me feel engaged while still being able to focus on my project. The Expanded podcasts are one of my favorites. If I’m sewing in the evening I’ll turn on my favorite french tunes, open some wine, and have myself a little sewing party. My favorite artists right now are Muddy Monk and Polo and Pan.
As a child, what was your first encounter and memory of beauty?
Summers at my grandparents’ house. My whole family immigrated to California from Ukraine in 1988. I have ten aunts and uncles just on the paternal side, and who knows how many cousins! We were all around the same age growing up, and we spent almost every day at the pool at my babushka’s house. There was a garden around the entire house that my grandmother tended to, and my grandfather was a beekeeper. I always encountered so much beauty at their home from picking cherries from the tops of the trees, to plucking grapes off the vines, to closely observing the bee that had just landed on my towel. The house was so lush and lively during my childhood. I remember thinking it was the biggest house, and I’d somehow discover something new each visit. My grandparents still live there, and we all gather at the house for the holidays and leave with an ungodly amount of persimmons and pomegranates from their garden. You can tell that the magic and beauty of the house is still there, but it’s a little harder to see nowadays, but I think there’s beauty to that as well.
Where is home and how does it affect what you do?
Like I mentioned earlier I’ve moved around a lot. I was born in Fresno, California shortly after my family immigrated from Ukraine. My immediate family moved to Oklahoma when I was six, but I spent summers and holidays visiting my extended family in Fresno. I always wanted to move back to California when I got older, and I finally did after living in Oklahoma for 20 years. Oklahoma and Fresno both have the sense of home for me, but it’s hard to call it home because I don’t plan on settling there in the future. I live in San Francisco and I absolutely love this city, it’s very unique, innovative, and full of history and art. The architecture is very special, and I love how much nature there is in the city and around it. Some of the most beautiful places in California are just a short drive away. The Bay Area area definitely feels like home. I plan to stay here for a while whether it’s in the city or perhaps right outside of it in the country somewhere. I’m constantly inspired here.
Name a book that you’ve recently read which inspired you and why?
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. It’s a very powerful book on vulnerability and shame. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, and I personally struggle with that. This book has helped me see the value of being vulnerable and being resilient to shame.
What was the first thing you ever remember making on your own? Tell us about this memory.
My mom was a seamstress in my early childhood, and I always loved going to the fabric store with her. My mom would teach me little techniques here and there, but I didn’t do my first full on project until middle school. I had some little mermaid fabric with aerial and flounder printed on it. I made a skirt that I patterned from a pillow case and added a drawstring. I wore it to school, and everyone thought it was so cool. When I would let them know I made it myself it was even cooler. I felt really proud.
Who are your muses and inspiration?
Chloe Sevigny and Alexa Chung. They are so effortlessly cool to me. I’m especially inspired by their style.
Do you have a community of crafters/ makers around you or do you find you are on your own?
I have a small community on Instagram, but in real life, I’m definitely on my own. When I first started sewing again it felt lonely and I was longing for a community. Now I enjoy having the creative space for myself.
How important is it to make something with your hands?
It’s everything. I’m very satisfied when I’m making something with my hands.
What does success mean to you?
I think success comes in small doses and isn’t something that’s achieved as a whole. Finding fulfillment and peace in different areas of my life is success. I imagine I will strive for success for as long as I live and my idea of success will change many times throughout my life.
What have you chosen to make out of FS linen and why?
I used the IL020 GOUACHE Softened 100% Linen to make a long drop waist dress with a fitted princess seam bodice I drafted myself. I knew I wanted to make a dress from the start. I was really drawn to the color of the linen. It reminds me of the iridescent hint of blue you see in pearls.