Hi! I'm Ellie.
I’m a maker & a teacher. I started Klum House, because I find teaching to be such fulfilling work. I love curating fun, educational, and empowering experiences that encourage people to be adventurous with their creativity.
In 1998, Ellie co-founded R.E. Load Bags, a custom messenger bag company, which set the standard for many other companies that make custom bags. Over the years, she fell in love with teaching industrial sewing through training folks to make bags for R.E. Load. Ellie saw how those skills opened up a trainee’s creative potential and formed a foundation that could be continually built on.
This experience motivated Ellie to pursue a degree in Integrative Ecoliteracy from UC Berkeley, in 2013. Her studies involved exploring ways to use art and sustainability in adult education. Her research focused on developing educational theories about embodied learning and skill-building in a garden setting. She was particularly interested in researching the emotional and physical impact of working with one’s hands, and how to best learn with your body in a natural setting. Her interest in this research was always motivated by the idea of opening Klum House in the future. Ellie wanted there to be a lot of intention behind how she taught. She also wanted to impact her students’ personal development and belief in themselves.
In 2015, together with her husband, Dustin Klein, Ellie Lum founded Klum House out of a modest home in Portland, Oregon, that encompasses their personal studios, a sewing classroom, a wood shop, and Dustin’s tattoo studio—plus, a bit of home for themselves and their little wonder dog, Winston.
Ellie isn’t just helping others learn new sewing skills, she’s creating a social movement.
She is determined to change the way people perceive the value of handmade items, in order support the growth of an alternative economy. In Klum House classes, students install a Klum House label in every item they make. It’s important to Ellie that the students see that they made a product, not just a bag. By teaching what goes into creating something yourself, she is informing customers and enabling makers to sell their products at the price point they need to sustain their business.
"In modern society people aren’t used to interacting with products that are not in the finished state. We are losing our sense of power to make things happen, because we don’t see the process. It contributes to low self-esteem and low self-confidence in your ability to make things happen in the world," Ellie explains. "If someone can make something with their hands, in a few hours, they see their ability to change things and make things. It builds self-confidence.”
Teaching The Value of Handcrafted.
For me, learning how to make things is like developing a new set of intelligences. It leads to being more conscious consumers that value human energy and creativity even more.
I believe that the more people who really understand making things as a lived experience, the more our culture and society values handcrafted. The more folks actually know how much goes into make the clothes we wear and the accessories we use, the less wasteful we are, and the more precious our everyday things become.
After 20 years of selling handcrafted goods, I have experienced the struggle that makers go through to sell their goods at the value that they are actually worth. I teach people how to make things with their own two hands, because when people make something themselves, not only do they understand the value of the good that they produced through their lived experience and their bodies, but they also develop a newfound appreciation for the goods made by other artisans.
— Ellie Lum, Skill-Building Teacher & Professional Maker