Dreaming up a new career: How 62-year-old woman's fashion line became overnight success – after idea came to her in sleep
17:38 GMT, 20 June 2012
A 62-year-old woman has told of how a dream led to the creation of a successful fashion line skewed towards elderly and disabled people.
Jan Erickson from Colorado Springs, Colorado dreamed of unique clothing designs one night in 2002, which she sketched onto paper later that morning.
The mother-of-three, who had been working as a part-time care assistant to the less able, told the Today show that the visions became early designs from Janska, her clothing label.
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Caring: Jan Erickson (left), a 62-year-old woman, had a dream which led to the creation of a clothing line for elderly and disabled people. Ten years on, the creations are being sold online and across the U.S.
She said that after she had 'very roughly' sketched her visions, she 'went back to bed'.
'The next morning, I looked at it and said, “what is this about, I don't even know how to sew”,' she explained.
Clever: The designer, pictured, now sells her fashion line across the U.S. and Canada as more elderly and disabled people discover it
Designs include shawls, wraps, jackets, capes, vests, hats, scarves, leg warmers and more.
The mother, who has also worked as a candy striper and in a hospice in the past, couldn't stop thinking about the dream and eventually, she turned to her husband John, who later became the Chief Financial Officer of Janska.
She believes she was inspired to create the 'wellness' line through her work with the less able.
The company now employs 31 people and the line is sold in 750 boutiques across the U.S. and Canada.
Sales have doubled over the past two years.
She claims that a woman named Jean, an elderly church parishioner who she helped care for, served as her muse.
Jean was disabled after multiple strokes and was forced to wearing hospital gowns.
Mrs Erickson created a jacket that featured big sleeves, no buttons and a slit up the back, for her which she loved.
When the designer showed her first full collection at her first wholesale trade show, she found further fans.
Savvy designs: The range features wraps for people who read books, hence the 'Reader's Wrap', above
'Boutiques came up and said, “I love your things, they're so different”,' she said. 'We were going, “what do we have here”'
The designer believes she has long been destined to care for others.
She said: 'I think it all comes back to the kind of childhood I had.'
She hopes that her work inspires her own children.
Calling: The sketches she drew that night in 2002, above, filled Mrs Erickson's head with business ideas
Inspired: The rough sketches, above, were inspired by the elderly and disabled people she had cared for
inspires them that their lives aren't going to be over when they get to
be 60,' she said. 'It's just been an amazing gift to be able to have
this business and to believe that we're doing something that matters.'
Mr and Mrs Erickson were thrifty in the early days – they did not pay themselves for eight years.
The business took off with the help of Mr Erickson's retirement funds.
The couple took home their first pay check last year.