WHAT WE MAKE BY MOLLY PRIDDYhen April Holmquist decided to get in the clothing-design and manufacturing business in December 2012, she started in the smallest way possible: baby outfits.
But the inspiration behind her decision to become a designer couldn’t have been bigger: her daughter, Inka, needed some new duds, and Holmquist hadn’t found that perfect clothing line.
So instead of compromising, she made her own. That was the beginning of what has blossomed into a full-on clothing company, Inka Clothing Co., named for her first, tiny source of inspiration.
Late last summer, Holmquist, who grew up in Columbia Falls and studied clothing design in Seattle, moved away from baby clothes and began making and selling women’s apparel. It’s moved Inka to a new business realm, she said, and has Holmquist making plans of wholesale possibilities.
Her clothes are a style all their own, which Holmquist describes as “alternative gypsy punk,” and the lines include skirts, shirts, pants, coats, dresses and more. And while the styling is attractive to buyers, what goes into the clothes is another major selling point.
“All of my fabric is either new, organic cotton made in the USA or purchased fair trade, or I upcycle a lot, using T-shirts from thrift shops and yard sales,” Holmquist said. “My organic skirts, they sell pretty quick.”
She runs her business as “greenly” as possible, Holmquist said, using scentless, dye-free organic cleaner for used fabric pieces, and she tries to be as close to waste neutral as possible when it comes to her fabrics.
Holmquist also takes custom orders, which have proven popular among her clients. She recently filled orders to the East Coast and California, as well as Queensland, Australia.
There was an Inka Clothing Co. storefront in Kalispell for a while, but Holmquist shuttered it in favor of using those overhead funds to pay for more fabric so she can move into the wholesale business.
She’s looking at boutique options on the West Coast, specifically Portland and Seattle, and is also searching for Montana outlets as well.
Holmquist’s recent, positive experiences with local farmers markets this summer have only reinforced her confidence that people want to buy what she’s making. And since she’s the designer and manufacturer, customers buying her organic clothing are paying less than what they might pay for other brands.
Patrons can find her pieces at farmers markets, as well as major arts and crafts festivals throughout the summer. As for her future, Holmquist hopes to get her bachelor’s degree in fashion to help boost her business, but otherwise continue to make her signature clothes.
“I’m making simple, comfortable clothes that are easy to wear,” she said. “In fashion, what you’re making really speaks for itself.”
For more information on Inka Clothing Co., visit www.inkaclothing.webs.com.