Meet Ella, The Badass Co-Founder of Stitchroom, Cycling Instructor & Near Fatal Ectopic Pregnancy Survivor
Ella Hall, a Wisconsinite turned New Yorker, attended Parson’s School of Design and graduated with a BFA focused in Fashion Design. She briefly pursued a career in Fashion before joining a fast growing interior design startup. It was there the idea for Stitchroom was born.
Ella realized the difficulty interior designers experienced in getting the simplest products custom-made for their clients. On a single sewing machine in a small NYC apartment, Ella started sewing custom projects for interior designers. She saw an opportunity, leveraged her production skills & access to interior designers, in hopes to make a few extra bucks by sewing pillows and cushions for them. What had started as a side hustle quickly transformed into a growing operation. Stitchroom's mission is to streamline the custom upholstery experience from start to finish. She’s made the process of purchasing custom easier and faster than it’s ever been before, and all of her products are made locally & ethically :)
What are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of how far I've come in the past 2 years. Getting married and building a life with my husband while growing my business has been both challenging and exciting at the same time. I am proud of the failures along the way because they have taught me perseverance. I am doing exactly what I want to be doing with the people I want to be doing it with. I love the team I have built and they have become my family. I’m so excited going into work each day and navigating the daily challenges together.
What’s your day-to-day life like?
At this stage in my business I am working like crazy, so I try to sleep as long as possible before running out the door. My favorite part about my job is that it’s walking distance and I get to literally wear sweats everyday. My job is very active as I am constantly carrying large rolls of fabrics and running around for project installations so being comfortable is key! I am managing several teams so my job is mostly making sure that things are operating smoothly. I split my time between production, marketing, sales and business development. I probably average about 12 hour workdays. When I get home, I cook dinner and spend some quality time with my husband and pups and then do it all again the next day!
How do you juggle being an entrepreneur, cycling instructor, dog mom and wife? What advice do you have for us?
I’ve come to the conclusion that there is always time for the things that you want to make time for. My mom had 4 kids in 5 years and I am the oldest. She was juggling 4 schedules, while also volunteering, while making time for herself and marriage and because of that, I learned efficiency and prioritization from her. Since a young age, playing sports and sweating it out has always been a huge stress reliever for me and I couldn’t be the CEO I am today without it. Taking time for myself to sweat has only been positive. When I first started my company, I knew that I would have to really keep an eye on my finances and going to $30 workout classes was not going to be feasible. I also know holding myself accountable after a 12 hour workday to exercise at the level of intensity that I wanted, would be almost impossible. So, I picked my favorite type of workout and auditioned to become an instructor. I knew that becoming an instructor would make me show up to class and would bring in some extra cash, which is always a plus. Becoming an instructor fed my soul and I could share my passion for cycling with NYC. I leave all of my stress in life on the bike during my 3 classes a week, it is my therapy.
“Prioritizing things in life can be very difficult, but my marriage will always come first.”
I am so thankful to have the most supporting and understanding husband who will check-in throughout the workday just to say hi, and ride in my weekend cycling classes, front and center, cheering me on. I started the business when we were just dating and he has really been there since day one. We make time for each other every day and it’s not about how much time we spend together, but the quality of it. We might just see each other for an hour at night depending on our schedules, but really making that one hour count is what matters. The advice that I would give is to just focus on making the best of each day- don’t compare yourself to anyone else, and know that you are writing your own story and creating your own journey. If you don’t like something, do whatever is in your power to change it.
My dad is a cancer survivor and one thing he passed to me during his journey is that the only two things you can control in this life are your attitude and your effort. If you just focus on those two things that you can control, and it all is going to be okay.
You survived a nearly fatal ectopic pregnancy scare...can you tell us about your experience and the warning signs?
Yes, so 3 years ago this July, My mom and I rode our bikes together across the state of Iowa. It was 7 day journey of about 50 miles per day. The experience was amazing but near the end of the trip I started to feel unwell. While riding, what I thought was my period had come early and I had mild cramping. The cramping got worse and then transitioned to feeling like a digestive issue. I thought that maybe after a few days getting back into my usual daily routine I would feel better. I remember feeling really dizzy after swimming a day after the ride ended and that something was just off.
The idea of being pregnant never crossed my mind because I thought that I had my period, although I was not using birth control at the time. I was still in the midwest with my family at this time and decided that If I was still not feeling well in a few days I would go get checked out when I was back in NYC. The pain kept getting progressively worse to the point that it hurt to touch my belly. It looked like I was extremely bloated and nothing was helping with the pain. I arrived back to NYC on a Monday evening and my boyfriend (now husband) said, “I think something is really wrong”.
I was planning on going to a walk in clinic the next morning but I thought I would take a pregnancy test just in case to really rule it out. I was 25 at the time, just starting my business and was not ready to be a Mom yet. I took the test and it immediately was positive. At that moment I was a bit in shock and after researching what I was feeling I thought that it was most likely a miscarriage. It was a strange place to be in emotionally because I didn’t want to be pregnant but it was still upsetting. I thought I would be fine so I went to bed that night thinking the pain would get better and my body would do what it needed to do. But the next morning it was even worse. I went into a walk in clinic immediately and they said it was possible that I could be experiencing a miscarriage but because they didn’t have an ultrasound and they wanted to rule out an ectopic pregnancy, I was sent directly to the ER. There, doctors quickly confirmed that I was experiencing an ectopic pregnancy and that my right Fallopian tube had ruptured. I was most likely 6-8 weeks pregnant at this time and the reason my lower belly was in so much pain was because my abdomen was filled with blood. Right away I went into surgery and woke up a few hours later.
Everything happened so quickly that I didn’t really have time to process what had happened and was just thankful that I was alive. I had not even heard about what an ectopic pregnancy was before it happened to me. I remember asking the doctors if I could have caused this from excessive bike riding, or if I could have prevented the ectopic and they said, “ absolutely not, it’s not your fault and you did nothing to cause this”. In the end, they removed my right Fallopian tube. I walked away from this experience with a few scars and soon learned that this was more common than I had realized. The doctor told me that many women go on to have successful pregnancies after an ectopic and hopeful for the future for when I am ready to start a family that it will all work out.
The one thing that I could have prevented was the rupture of the ectopic was if I had gone in earlier to get checked out and they might have been able to save the tube. Since this experience, I started tracking my cycle and paying more attention to know exactly what is going on in my body and try to share my experience with many women in hopes of bringing more awareness to prevent more ectopic ruptures in the future.