When MSUM alumna Rachel Neumiller ’15 (advertising) started her business, she knew it would not be a journey she would take alone. Neumiller’s sister, Lacey Heid, was right beside her taking co-ownership.
The sisters have always had a deep-rooted passion for crafting and sewing. They learned to sew from their mother, who learned from their grandmother—a talent passed down through the generations. They have turned their passion and talent into the sustainable business, Pear’d.
Pear’d was fashioned almost three years ago after a friend encouraged them to enter their work in a farmer’s market. Neumiller and Heid used this opportunity to introduce their products to the public. They have enjoyed continued success at numerous craft fairs in Fargo and Bismarck, N.D. Now their products are found online at Etsy, an e-commerce website focused on handmade and vintage items; at the Unglued craft shop in both the Fargo and Sioux Falls, S.D., locations; and at Crabapple Floral in Bismarck. Pear’d currently offers three different products: zippered pouches, tote bags and aprons.
“When it comes to labor, we’re really passionate about making handmade, high-quality products,” Neumiller said. “If you’re buying from Pear’d, you know your product is coming from us.”
Making everything by hand while trying to support a young business can be time consuming. Their biggest challenge? Finding balance.
“Being a student and working part time and [Heid] being a full-time mom, we’re not able to give it 100 percent of our time, but we still give it 100 percent of our effort,” explained Neumiller. “It’s a growing process figuring out what works and realizing that even if it works now, it may not work in a year.”
The most important aspect the sisters consider when making their products is the design and fashion-appeal each item carries. They strive to make each product fun by focusing on modern and graphic styles that incorporate polka dots, stripes, floral and plaid patterns.
“[Heid] and I have always been interested in fashion and have always strived for our own aesthetic, not necessarily focusing on what’s trendy. We still want to be trendy, but we like to push the mold a little bit,” Neumiller said. “We do that by listening to what our gut says and what looks good to us, as well as scouring the Internet and Etsy and seeing what other people are doing and what speaks to us.”
Pear’d clients can custom order by requesting certain fabrics to be used when producing a specific item. Although custom ordering can be seen as a pain to some business owners, these ambitious sisters see it as a chance to gain a loyal customer.
“Custom orders are a lot of fun,” Neumiller said. “We’re able to create something that someone is super excited about and brings them joy every time they use it, which is what we want. We love when people are happy with our products and when they’re excited to have something that fits into their lifestyle and aesthetic.”
Although the creative duo is working only part time on Pear’d, they have big dreams for how to expand their business.
“We would love to see a Pear’d studio and build up a community of people who want to learn something new and to foster a community of sewers, makers and coffee drinkers.”
This story was first published in Moorhead Magazine, Spring 2016.
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