Meet Ellie Hottinger, Emah The Label


Emah The Label focuses on small batch capsule collections that are made with purpose and integrity. With an emphasis on sustainable materials and fair, quality production, Emah embraces local artistry and promotes a conscious way of shopping. Each item is made to order and hand crafted in Chicago.

What do you love about your business and industry?

I love that the fashion industry is becoming more and more socially conscious. It's important to me that I run my business with that same level of attention so I love that I am so intimately involved with the process and decision making. Everything from sourcing materials, to labor, to packaging and distribution, I get to make choices that align with my values and the values of my company.

Tell us what inspires you.

There is nothing more motivating than the feeling I get when someone tells me how much they loved wearing one of my pieces. Knowing that a project close to my heart brought someone else joy and confidence is so rewarding. Creative inspiration can manifest itself in so many ways but I always come back to that feeling of connecting with the women supporting Emah.

What advice do you have for other creatives and entrepreneurs?

KEEP GOING. It is OK to grow slow, so long as you are doing something that you feel passionate about.

What is something surprising about you?

I don’t really like shopping! For as passionate as I am about fashion, the act of shopping just doesn’t excite me as much as the process of how the clothes got there and the story behind them.

What is the most common question you get about you and your business?

Regarding what I am wearing, I get a lot of “Did you make that?” As much as I love to sport my own designs, not everything I wear is an Emah original :) I still love to support other brands that resonate with me and my style.

Tell us about your process for making and creating.

Although I start with a vision and a plan, I always allow for the process to evolve. A happy mistake here, an unforeseen challenge there, often make the final collection even better than I could have foreseen. Usually there are one or two items that have been ruminating in my mind and those tend to be the focal points I start with. The rest of the pieces come very naturally once those ideas are developed. From there I start sampling the garments and my favorite part comes last: photographing the garments on bodies and bringing to life the story I had envisioned.

Name three local makers and brands that you are inspired by and why.

Caitlin Hottinger Graphic Design: Caitlin’s style gives everyday objects a whimsical twist. My favorite pieces of hers involve how she interprets different cities and makes them into adorable prints!

Katherine Corden Art: From Chicago scenes to beach house getaways, and my personal favorite, her colorful figures, Katherine’s bright, warm, & genuine personality shines through these paintings. I love following her work!

Milton & Margies: I am obsessed with candles, and these ones are hand-poured right here in Chicago. The best part is their containers are all unique and sustainably sourced. Vintage glasses, mugs and other special items are given a new life.

What is the best advice you've ever been given and how has it shaped your business?

There isn’t one piece I can say that I live and breathe by, but the books I read and the podcasts I listen to are heavily geared toward both professional and personal development. These things work so intimately with each other that I think it’s crucial to keep them top of mind and continue to nurture their growth. You never know what you will learn by listening to someone else's journey!

Discover more about Emah The Label at

kendra chaplin