Student designer stitches in time


Liana Sonenclar

Rachel doran’15 works on sewing a pair of her Rachel’s Rags pajama pants, sold in Sweet Rexie’s and Dress code, and online on Etsy

Pajama day may only come once a year for most Staples students. But for Rachel Doran ’15, it is a constant celebration; she gets paid for it, too.

At 16-years-old, Doran makes her living by running a pajama company called “Rachel’s Rags.” However, they’re not really rags, but intricately designed pants and shorts from cotton and fleece material that friend, Harley Kowalsky ’15, described as “so comfy.”

Doran was first taught at the age of five to sew by her grandmother. She tooksewing classes in 2007, which would make it a much greater element in her life. These lessons are also where she made her very first pair of pajamas.

A pair that she was very proud of.

She then created another set for her sister’s birthday. Her friends liked what she produced, which is how she got the idea to start a business.

Doran’s design line started with her making pajamas for family and friends, and eventually for craft shows. “This is when I really started my company,” Doran said.

“Rachel’s Rags” has continued to grow through time, with her, on average, selling 100 pairs each year. Her most common way of commerce is through her account on Etsy, an online program where crafters can display and sell their products.

Doran’s typical selling prices are $30 for kids and $35 for adults. In addition to her self-selling, stores like Sweet Rexie’s and Dress Code have featured her designs.

“It’s fun to see people wearing something that you’ve made,” she said.

Mary Perkins, the owner of Dress Code, attests to the strength of Doran’s business.

“I think Rachel is a true entrepreneur,” Perkins said in an email interview.

Yet being an entrepreneur brings a lot of responsibility. But because Doran has many years of work experience, she manages her job effectively and efficiently.

That’s why all the measuring, cutting and stitching for one pair now takes her a mere 20 minutes to complete. She has no set schedule in the overall amount of time she spends working. The general trend is that winter and the period before a craft show are the busiest. “Some weeks there will be nothing to do, and some weeks I’ll work for five hours,” Doran said.

Doran’s strength behind the sewing machine was the catalyst for another activity that she’s passionate about: Staples Players’ costume design. Being a crewmember since her freshman year, she’s currently one of the senior managers and has made many of the outfits appearing onstage.

For each show, she prepares almost as much as the actors by watching a movie of the play and studying the plot. Doran explained the show’s time period is the most important element in getting the clothing styles right.

Upon this initial planning, she extensively collaborates with the other designers on perfecting each costume.

“She’s such a hard worker,” Claire Smith ’15, a friend and member of Players said. Smith referred to the outfit Doran created for the character, Laurie, as being an asset in last year’s production of “Oklahoma!” It was a light blue, lacy skirt/jacket combo with pink buttons.

“I was so incredibly impressed,” Smith recollected.

Kowalsky agreed on Doran’s skills and success. “It’s awesome,” she said. “I wish I was able to make my own clothes.”

Despite her prolific background in design for her company and Players, Doran is undecided about what she’ll professionally pursue. “I don’t know if being a designer is what I’ll wind up wanting to do,” she said.

Smith knows one thing about Doran’s future. “One day, her name is going to be everywhere,” she said.