Mai-Lis Bahr, B.S.’97
By Carol Olechowski
Starting and running a small business, observes Mai-Lis Bahr, requires “perseverance, strength and grit. When the going gets tough, I tell myself to hold on tightly until we weather the storm. And when the sun shines, I sit back, take a deep breath and say, ‘I did this; we did this!’”
The sun shines often for Bahr and friend Meghan Hampton, who founded the Addie & Ella girls’-clothing line in 2010. Initially, they planned to create Lil’ Dribblers, “interchangeable bibs that looked like part of an outfit,” but the designs were difficult to manufacture. Instead, they “branched out and designed a whole line of clothing” Bahr describes as “timeless, fresh, comfortable and whimsical.”
All Addie & Ella creations “can be worn for play and are machine washable,” notes Bahr, adding that the line currently features “soft and durable Peruvian-cotton knits.” Most items are priced between $15 and $40.
Hampton and Bahr handle design, shipping, overseas manufacturing, social media, website management, sales – “you name it, we do it! We hire graphic artists, when needed.”
Since 90 percent of her work revolves around communication and organization, Bahr appreciates the opportunities UAlbany afforded her. A course on businesses, mergers and acquisitions “ignited entrepreneurial desire within me and taught me strategic thinking,” remembers the former communication major. From an internship with Assemblyman Robert D’Andrea, Bahr gained “real-world experience” and confidence.
After graduation, the Saratoga Springs native relocated to Charlotte, N.C., where she still resides with her husband, Chris, and their daughter, Addie, and son, Carson. She and Hampton, who met at Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, now work from Bahr’s home office. The arrangement ensures that Bahr is home when her children arrive from school. “Plus,” she jokes, “my dogs appreciate the company!”
Community service is important to Bahr and Hampton, who support the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte. “Meghan lost one of her identical twin daughters at birth. The NICU saved her daughter Scottie’s life,” recounts Bahr, who serves on the founding committee of In the Nic of Time, an organization started by Hampton’s family. “For the past three years, we have raised over $180,000; the NICU is using the funds for strategic space-planning to enhance the entire unit. Funds are also donated to the Charlotte Fetal Care Center, which provides pre-natal care to high-risk pregnancies.”
Addie & Ella has donated more than 1,000 blankets to the NICU nursery. “We used our custom-designed prints to create soft, colorful blankets to warm the beds of little ones,” Bahr says.
Visit Addie & Ella at www.AddieandElla.com, on Facebook and at Twitter.