Fashion designer and Shabby Apple founder Athelia Woolley took a risk, even though her parents discouraged her. They told her she would never own a business, but in 2006, she started Shabby Apple in her parents' home. A year later, Athelia's mom gave her an iron pig with wings for her birthday. "She said, 'Well, I figured when pigs fly you would own a business,'" laughs Athelia.
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She grew up dancing in Salt Lake City, Utah, and after college, Athelia moved to London to study dance at a conservatory, in hopes of being in a contemporary dance company. Unfortunately, health problems quickly got in the way.
Athelia began feeling exhausted, and on her way to school one day, she couldn't get up the stairs to the subway. She says she knew then that something was seriously wrong. Athelia was diagnosed with Addison's disease, a disorder in which the body's adrenal glands fail. It was made worse by intense exercise, and sadly, Athelia had to give up dancing.
After trying several careers, Athelia decided to move back in with her parents at the age of 28. She rediscovered a love for fashion.
Athelia admits she was a terrible seamstress. She bought "Fashion Design for Dummies" and decided to give it a try. Soon after searching the web for fabric and buttons, Athelia and a friend founded Shabby Apple.
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Shabby Apple focuses on retro, modest styles. "I've always loved old movies, old clothes, anything kind of vintagey," Athelia explains. "I feel like those clothes from eras gone by are actually more flattering for women."
The first time she saw one of her designs in a fashion magazine, she says she was ecstatic. "I never in a million years thought that I would design something that would be in a major fashion magazine," says Athelia.
Athelia says she's more comfortable with failure now, which has ultimately helped her become more successful. "I think it sounds kind of corny, but I actually would say it's ok to fail, because I never in a million years thought I would risk enough to actually start a business."
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