During high school in Newport Beach, Lauren Meichtry, founder of Elsie Home, made a habit of making her own clothes and frequenting vintage boutiques on Melrose Avenue in Beverly Hills. “I always loved creating, and it drove my parents crazy,” laughs Lauren from her home basement workshop in Manhattan Beach. “The style at the time was very preppy and clean-cut, and I was always searching to do something out of the box.”
One of Lauren’s most memorable ensembles included a black patent leather prom dress she stitched by hand with help from her friend’s mom. “Looking back, it was horrifying,” recalls Lauren who paired the outfit with purple hair. “I thought it looked great at the time, and nobody else had it. There were a lot of safety pins.”
While attending the University of Southern California where she majored in communications and business, Lauren applied her artistic eye to her dorm room and covered a main wall with velour fabric and trim she found at a downtown fabric store. “Of course I was the person with the overhauled dorm room,” she jokes. “I wanted people to walk in and think, ‘Wow!’ That was always important to me—and finding ways to make things different. Velour really doesn’t fit my aesthetic now, but it was more textured and took away from the enormous corkboard in the room.”
After graduation, Lauren—now a mother of two—took a job working in finance. She met her husband and later managed a Lululemon store in Studio City. “I felt like that’s when the lightbulb went off,” says Lauren. “That was the beginning of me doing something that was more in line with my passion.”
But while pregnant with her daughter six years ago, a sewing machine gifted to her from her husband’s grandmother, Elsie, changed the course of her life and career. “Elsie and I instantly had a connection because she was an artist and she did these really beautiful landscapes and portraits,” explains Lauren. “She also sewed and knitted, and she’s always been very special to me.”
Throughout her maternity leave, Lauren watched countless YouTube videos on sewing and made her first pillow. She then began making leggings, headbands and infinity scarves, which morphed into an entire line of baby clothing called Milky—also a nickname for her daughter.
“I knew I loved doing it, and I sewed away while my daughter was in a bouncing seat,” she recalls. “But when I had my son, I couldn’t keep doing it. I was so grateful for the chance to stay at home, but I was missing something and I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do. I wanted to pursue interior design, but I knew that was a huge job and I wanted to find something in between.”
Last year, a visit from a friend prompted her new design business and gave her the nudge she needed. “She saw all my pillows around the house and asked me, ‘Why aren’t you selling these?’” recounts Lauren. In a matter of months, she launched her direct-to-consumer pillow company affectionately named after Elsie.
Now her daily schedule revolves around managing a line of 53 pillows (each with a hand-embroidered logo on the back); a full-time seamstress; fulfilling orders; collaborating with interior designers; personally shipping items via UPS with her kids in tow; and sourcing new and sustainable fabrics such as Dallas–based textile company KUFRI, known for preserving the art of ancient weaving processes.
“In a space I want to know things like, ‘Who made this?’ and ‘Why is this special?’” explains Lauren. “And with prints and pillows, I want to be able to tell the story.”
The pillow maven is proving she’s just getting started, with the debut of a six-piece collection with interior designer Alison Giese this month, and long-term dreams of opening boutiques in Manhattan Beach and Pacific Palisades. “I pinch myself all the time,” says Lauren. “I definitely did not see it growing at the rate that it has, and I’m really, really grateful and humbled by it all.”
PILLOW TALK: DECORATING TIPS FROM LAUREN
Layering is Key
“Choose pillows of differing sizes to create dimension. For a sofa, I like layering a 22-by-22 square with a 20-by-20 square and a 14-by-20 lumbar. There’s no hard and fast formula for sizes, so try not to feel like you have to stick to this.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Mix and Match
“Instead of choosing pillows that all match, try mixing prints. You can do this by pairing large- and small-scale prints together in similar color palettes. I like to add a solid pillow to tie the colors together without making things too busy.”
What’s Inside Matters
“You want pillows you can actually use, right? Opt for soft, natural fabrics like linen and cotton. The insert is important too. A down-and-feather blend gives you that cozy, couch nap-ready feel. Our inserts are specifically made with responsible down (this certification has to do with ensuring the ethical treatment of animals) and are covered with heavyweight cotton, so you won’t be poked with feathers while you’re lounging on them.”