At 18 years old, Ellie was living in Philly and working as a bike messenger. With a background in sewing, she saw an opportunity to make messenger bags better—not just the bags themselves, but also the way they were produced. With business partner, Roland Burns, she co-founded RE Load Bags, a custom messenger bag company that went on to open in-house production shops in Philly, Seattle, and San Francisco. During her years at RE Load, Ellie trained dozens of employees to manufacture bags on industrial equipment. She saw how these skills empowered people, even helped many of them to start businesses of their own.
Through training stitchers at RE Load, Ellie realized that teaching, rather than production, was her true passion. This led her to enroll in a program at UC Berkeley, where she spent two years studying adult education. With a sustainable garden as her laboratory, she observed the way people learned, gaining confidence through embodied experience and the simple act of working with their hands. Ellie’s studies confirmed what she experienced firsthand at RE Load and deepened her commitment to empowerment through hands-on education.
Ready to put her knowledge to use, Ellie moved to Portland in 2015 and founded Klum House Workshop, a business that combines her passions for teaching and sewing. It was (and is) a labor of love. The original Klum House was run out of Ellie’s home. In true DIY spirit, she converted her basement into a beautiful teaching studio and began welcoming her first students. Drawing on her roots in industrial manufacturing, she taught students how to harness the full power of the home sewing machine, using it to create bags that are as durable as they are stylish.
Over the next couple of years, Klum House built a following with those seeking high-quality sewing education. And in 2017, when the opportunity arose to move into a commercial space in the Williams District, Ellie took the leap. This move marked an exciting new phase in Klum House’s development. With more space and increased visibility, we were able to expand our offerings to include industrial sewing workshops, as well as artist talks and public events.
A year later, Klum House took another big step, launching a line of bag sewing patterns and maker kits. Through patterns & kits, Ellie is able to teach a much wider community of makers, not just those who live close enough to take a workshop. Fully-illustrated, with easy-to-follow instructions, Klum House sewing patterns are informed by Ellie’s twenty years of experience as a bag designer, maker, and teacher. Our maker kits come with all of the ingredients you need to complete a bag at home, including pre-cut waxed canvas, leather, and hardware.
Today, Klum House is a bustling creative hub for the Portland community and our community of makers around the world. We have a lineup of stellar educators and a small team that helps with marketing, design, shipping, and day-to-day operations. We have a full workshop calendar, an online library of sewing resources, and a growing pattern & kit line carried by retailers across the country. We are so grateful to do what we do and look forward to all that the future has in store!