behind the brand
OF ELLIE KAI
BEGAN IN 2011
at a small studio tucked away in the bustling streets of Hong Kong. Founder, and then expat, Liz Hostetter had finally settled in Hong Kong with her husband and three children, after years of living around the world, bouncing from Fiji to Paris and then London.
In Hong Kong, Liz was unable to find clothing in the fit and styles she desired, so she began working with a local tailor to create her own designs based on what she knew worked for her. Sourcing small quantities of fabrics and curating design ideas from her ongoing travels throughout Asia, Liz created patterns and designs that were made into clothes that met her preferences and standards.
Returning home for a visit to Cape Cod, Massachusetts in the summer of 2011 with a suitcase of her favorite custom items was the first step in realizing there was much more to the idea of “made for me” clothing. Friends and family loved the vibrant prints, and the modern cuts and versatility of the pieces. Every woman she told about her experience of “being your own designer” and having access to custom clothing was fascinated by the prospect. The idea for a made-to-order clothing line was clear and the inspiration for Ellie Kai was born.
Once the light bulb went on, the planning began. Liz started pounding the pavement to find the best sources of fabrics. She began to create a collection of women’s clothing that would inspire customers to build upon her original designs, empowering them to define their own style through their preferences in colors, patterns, fit and hem length. From the beginning, Liz saw the design process as a true collaboration between company and client. She set up shop in a tight knit neighborhood in Hong Kong, which ultimately transitioned into Ellie Kai’s global manufacturing headquarters. Although Liz now permanently resides stateside, the original Hong Kong team remains a trusted partner and in many ways, a second family, who continues to hold down the fort on the other side of the world. Ellie Kai is now a global brand, with offices in Boston, Cape Cod, Hong Kong and China.
And the name Ellie Kai? “Ellie” comes from an affectionate nickname Liz received while working with children in Fiji during her time with the Red Cross. And in many languages “Kai” signifies power, victory and water. When put together, Ellie Kai creates a beautiful, strong female role model to inspire and nurture us all.