Região de Leiria: Portuguese Press
Recently I had the opportunity to interview with and write for Região de Leiria, a local paper in my city in Portugal, discussing my journey with By Hollis and how it brought me to Portugal...
Thank you Região de Leiria for the opportunity, I am so grateful to share my story and create a memory to look back on!
English translation: Hollis Kolmansberger of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is 18 years old and was 14 during the founding of her own business: she sells t-shirts and sweatshirts with her trademark "By Hollis". It has customers in the United States of America, but not only. Overall, the business continues to grow, as it already has clients in European countries: France, Belgium and Portugal, for example. As the business grows, Hollis lives in Alcogulhe, Leiria, since September. She came under the Interculture-AFS program. She debated France and Italy, but eventually chose Portugal. And she's not sorry, “I'm loving it," says Hollis, student in Leiria at Domingos Sequeira Secondary School. As she manages business in the distance, she continues to be a businesswoman in the style of the American dream, while living the Portuguese experience. By Hollis is inspired by the ocean, thanks to the frequent visits to California where she has family. And "Portugal is very similar to California with beaches and palm trees In addition, our country is a tourist destination that is fashionable in the USA and is different: "There are already many young Americans in France or Italy, and I wanted a different experience." I did not know the language, which was complicated at first, but this obstacle was blurred. She understands the essence of the language of Camões, and here she did not lack anyone using Shakespeare's. "I made friends with ease, because they speak English, my class is very friendly.” And the smile with which she speaks the phrases also helps, for sure. Here, she discovered the word "saudade”. (OK quick translation note: saudades can best be described as a mix between missing someone and heartache, like a feeling) I love that you have a word for it", she says, understanding with everything she left in the United States. But there is an entrepreneurial optimism in the way of facing the difficulties: "They warned me that I would miss them, but I did not believe because I always had a very independent attitude. But it is an experience that will help me in the future. In Portugal, she designs inspired by some of the world's most beautiful beaches, and already has t-shirts inspired by the region in her collection that sells online, and in July she’ll be home. She’ll be studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, where she wants to study, intern with another company, seek inspiration in other countries and continue in the world of fashion.
The best advice I was ever given was to make connections with other people.
In 2014, I founded my company By Hollis, a clothing brand that sells my original designs printed on super soft shirts. It all began at my soccer tournament in Pennsylvania, United States, where I grew up. I was buying a tournament t-shirt when I saw a heat press, a machine comparable to a giant iron, being used to print designs on t-shirts with transfer paper. I watched a blank shirt become embellished within 20 seconds, and I looked at my mom with inspired eyes. “I could do something with that,” I said to her. The next day, I wrote the best business plan that my fourteen-year-old self was capable of. I pitched to my family and friends, landed an investment and By Hollis was in motion.
Creating a sellable product was my next step. It required a few late (school) nights, product development research and a combination of patience and perseverance. Sometimes I was never 100% satisfied with my final result, either because I wanted to keep playing with trial-and-error, or maybe it was because I was looking at the same thing for hours. My dad gave me great advice during these scenarios by reminding me that I will never have a perfect product. He believed that getting my foot-in-the-door was more important, and looking back I completely agree. With every new collection my shirts are evolving. I am very happy with where By Hollis shirts are now, and I was able to achieve this by diving into my ambition head first. The latest By Hollis release, The Max & Whitney Tee, has proceeds benefitting blood cancer patients through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and is available on www.byhollis.com.
Next year, I will continue my education at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City as a fashion design major. It is valuable to study fashion full-time in order to learn new skills and techniques within the industry, and I am eager to begin my career through higher education. While I believe that college is important for this reason among many others, I view furthering my education as a necessity because of the opportunity it gives to make connections. Throughout my journey with By Hollis, I have learned that networking is exceedingly essential for progression. Put yourself with people who are where you want to be, whether it is through a friend of a friend, an internship or an email. This mindset made it possible to run By Hollis from abroad, because I unexpectedly met my manufacturer through a conversation. Thanks to that connection, I have continued to design and sell clothing on my website from Leiria, Portugal, where I am studying abroad this year for my final year of high school. Being abroad, I have seen more than I ever imagined at eighteen. Portugal has an energy from the architecture to the culture and everything in between, and I love sharing that through By Hollis. In my latest winter collection, I designed a shirt inspired by Nazaré. The response was amazing, and it gave me great insight into designing from tangible inspiration. The eclectic tiles lining the Portuguese streets to the bold rocks bordering the coasts will always be in my mind, and I hope to continue incorporating Portugal’s flare into my fashion designs in college.
The best advice I was ever given has two sides. I learned about the business side of making connections early in my life with By Hollis. Living in Leiria, studying within a new school system and living with a new family, I realized the other side. People who were once strangers became friends and family to me. Leaving the people I was surrounded by for my entire life showed me what I missed most. If there is one thing that I learned, it is that building connections is not only essential within a career, but also within a life.