Evolved from humble beginnings...
In 1906, Edna Lilly, our sweet grandmother, was born in a small town in rural West Virginia. Daughter to a coal miner, life was harsh In those days. Her mother passed away during childbirth, so everything our grandmother Edna came to know, she learned from the woman that raised her, including how to sew. Sewing was practically essential for survival in those days and not having much, meant being resourceful with the materials you had available.
To escape the hardships of her childhood and for the sake of young love, at the early age of 15, Edna married our grandfather Frank, a young and handsome hard working coal miner from Logan, West Virginia. Soon 8 children followed. If caring for and feeding 8 children weren't enough , Edna took in laundry from the coal miners to help pay bills and keep food on the table. Hard work was no stranger.
Despite her limited resources or free time, our grandmother Edna was a visionary with a strong desire to make her small home beautiful. Edna stained her walls with crushed red berries for a blush of color. With her pedal pushed Singer Sewing machine, she made bed linens from unbleached muslin and added embroidered edges. Turning something ordinary into something special, she took old seed sacks and made charming curtains for her windows. When she received donated clothes and old linens from church, she would alter them into something new and fresh. Edna’s industrious nature was forged from circumstance. Rather than letting her financial circumstance be a burden, she transformed it into creative inspiration.
It was no wonder her daughter Ellie, youngest of 8, came to possess the same industrious nature. As a young bright-eyed girl, Ellie already had a distinguishing eye for detail and sophisticated style. She yearned to wear the high-end fashions she saw in fashion magazines and in department stores, but could not afford. With Edna as a role model, she realized she could have these things - they weren't out of reach. But in order to have them, she had to make them.
Ellie absorbed every bit of knowledge she could from watching her mother. By age twelve, she had learned how to sew, but more importantly, she had learned the values that gave her the drive to make her dreams happen when the world around her made it feel impossible. To sharpen her skills, Ellie enrolled in tailoring classes that she paid for by working odd jobs. From pencil skirts with french seams, color blocked sleeves on structured waisted jackets, or fitted dresses with zipper details on the quarter length sleeve, It wasn't long before the styles Ellie designed and wore became desired by many.
But, as life goes, Ellie's dreams for design were put on hold when she decided to have her own family. As the last child of 8, it wasn't long after she found herself caring for her aging parents, Edna and Frank, when they could no longer care for themselves. Then the diagnosis of her husbands Pancreatic Cancer changed her life forever. She found herself caring not only caring for her own children, her parents, but a dying husband as well . Over the course of those years, any spare moment she could steal away and escape, she would lose herself designing and creating in her workroom. Little did she know, that years later, all of those years of honing her talent would eventually payoff and come to fruition.
After years and years of putting others needs before her own, Ellie finally was able to realize her own passions once again. It came as no surprise to Ellie when her own two daughters, Vicki and Julie, harbored the same creative aspirations. In 2006, they opened their first retail showroom in New Buffalo, Michigan. In the beginning, they primarily provided custom design services for homeowners in the Greater Chicago Areas and Southwest Michigan.
Although they still offer their design services for custom projects - Now, Ellie and her two daughters have pioneered their unique design sensibility into a line of ready-to-wear styles for the house & home. Each item is painstakingly designed and made with exacting standards in our Kalamazoo, Michigan workroom. Taking cues from fashion trends and adding the unique details that come so naturally, you'll find their home fashion lines are truly something special.
HITE HOUSE is dedicated in honor of Judson Hite, Edna & Frank Lilly. Three pillars of strength, faith and love that forged our foundation.
Established 2006 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.