Created in the Corridor: WRITTEN Apparel

WRITTEN Apparel display inside the front entrance to The Dostal House in Cedar Rapids.

Emily Carlson has always loved fashion but she didn’t quite know how to realize her dream of becoming a professional designer. That changed a few years ago when she found a few mentors, followed her passion and zeroed in on what she Created in the Corridor.

“I’m just going to do this on my own,” said Carlson, 32, as she recalled what she was thinking when she decided to throw caution to the wind. “Like, I don’t know what I’m getting myself into but this is what I want to do so I’m going to do it.”

The president and founder of WRITTEN Apparel wrote her own script to get where she wanted to be. She quit a job she hated, went back to school and started experimenting. “Buying some different things from Goodwill and The Salvation Army and adapting them or changing them,” Carlson said. “That’s kind of when I really started taking ideas and transforming them into wearable garments.”

Emily sharpened her focus into pencil skirts, got accepted into the Iowa Startup Accelerator and recruited a local boutique owner to help. “Emily’s business…probably the biggest takeaway for me was just how much work that girl puts in,” said Meegan Hofmeister, former owner of The Boutique in Newbo who collaborated with Carlson at the ISA. “She’s super determined and motivated and going to make things happen for herself. She’s not going to stop so it was inspiring for me to be around that energy.”

Launched in November, WRITTEN Apparel’s pencil skirts are designed to empower women who are writing their own story in life and use fashion as a way of expression. Explained Carlson, “So the person wearing it doesn’t want to blend in. There’s something unique about themselves that they want to tell through what they’re wearing.”

Carlson’s new home-away-from-home is The Dostal House in Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s first women’s workspace and social club founded by Hofmeister. “We have (co-working) space for six full-time residents and three part-time residents on any given day. We also have a private meeting room,” explained Hofmeister who created The Dostal House for many of the same reasons Carlson designed WRITTEN Apparel—to empower women. “Women have different needs than guys and I wanted to create something pretty and creative and a sense of community among other female entrepreneurs where we could all work with each other and keep each other inspired and motivated.”

“The primary thing when you start a business is to get plugged in and this is the atmosphere to do it,” said Nikki Hynek who also found a home at The Dostal House. She started the company Dollup Beauty two years ago and is now on track to do $250,000 in sales this year. “When I spoke to you last I had only developed and launched one item. It was called my Dollup case, the item I had invented. I’ve since launched a full makeup line,” Hynek said proudly.

It’s not just the co-working space that these entrepreneurs appreciate. The Dostal House’s retail showroom is invaluable. The way Carlson tells it, “It gives us brick-and-mortar presence which I’ve learned is very important to us right now since we’re a relatively unknown brand. Women still want to know how is a WRITTEN pencil skirt going to feel or fit.” Hynek agrees. “I’ve been around for a couple years but they didn’t know I existed because I was primarily working out of my home.”

Adds Hofmeister, “It’s kind of worked out that we’ve gotten a beauty brand. we’ve gotten a fashion label and a salon all in our retail setting because it’s the same target customer. So it’s the same flow of traffic that’s coming in (and) we’re being able to offer that customer multiple goods and services.”

As for Carlson’s WRITTEN Apparel, her sales are growing, too. And so are aspirations for The Dostal House. “I’m hoping that I’m going to outgrow this space pretty quickly,” said an optimistic Hofmeister. “It would be great.”

The Dostal House has an interesting history, built in 1910 during the women’s suffrage movement. It just celebrated its grand opening Saturday and its co-working space is now open to any and all women entrepreneurs, available by membership. We have more information about The Dostal House HERE.


Dollup Beauty

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