Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Olive and Fern

Flower girl dresses and handcrafted cotton couture

Scarlet Lynn Stone
Posted 2/16/18

ELY - February is the month where winter wears out its welcome and Valentine’s Day provides a sweet reprieve mid-month. It is truly the holiday of loving expressions with heart-shaped boxes of …

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Olive and Fern

Flower girl dresses and handcrafted cotton couture


ELY - February is the month where winter wears out its welcome and Valentine’s Day provides a sweet reprieve mid-month. It is truly the holiday of loving expressions with heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, romantic greeting cards and special events such as weddings and engagements.

For anyone who has ever planned a wedding, you know there are countless details involved in enhancing the beautiful memories. Most brides would agree the most important detail is finding the perfect wedding dress, which is followed by clothing choices for the wedding attendants. It is usually the ring bearer and flower girl who are without a doubt the “cute factor” in most wedding ceremonies, looking so fresh-scrubbed in suit and dress, with all the trimmings.

I recently had the pleasure to meet Beth Ohlhauser, of Ely, who specializes in sewing adorable vintage-style flower girl dresses and everyday dresses, too. Beth began sewing when she was young, designing dresses for her Barbie dolls; then in college she took a class in theater costume design, further advancing her seamstress skills.

Over the years she has sewn curtains, pillows and numerous items for her own home and has also sewn professionally for another business. With a basket-load of experience, she started her own business, Olive and Fern, back in 2009 while living in a cabin in Idaho with her husband and young family. I told Beth, “Oh, it’s such a great name for a business!” She said, “The name came from my love of these two names; I wanted to name my kid that.”  She said other names were chosen for her daughters so the leftover names, Olive and Fern, became the business’ name.

It was no easy task to start her dressmaking business in a small cabin, she recalled. “I had to put away all my sewing supplies each day for supper, since I was using my kitchen table to sew.” Her business continued to grow; then six years ago the Ohlhausers decided to move to Minnesota to be closer to home.

Beth, who is originally from Iowa, and her husband Craig, of central Minnesota, were both drawn to the north country. They liked the town of Ely, its people, and the work options for Craig, who is employed in the Natural Resource field.

Beth has moved way beyond kitchen table parameters and has an Etsy site and a sewing shop in downtown Ely that she shares with her friend, Tara Boerst, who owns Grey Duck Bag Company. “Tara is instrumental in helping me with building my new website and sewing when I need help.” Beth drafts and designs all her own dress patterns for what have become wedding treasures. “I specialize in natural fabrics with a nod to vintage styles. I love to use lace and 100-percent natural hand-dyed cotton grown and milled in North Carolina,” said Beth. Embellishments unique to her dresses are the hand-twisted roses made of the same fabric, that are sewn to the dress fronts. “I do use touches of satin ribbon and soft nylon tulle, also made in the USA. I really try to source my supplies from the U.S. first,” she said.

While the materials for Beth’s dresses are largely from the United States, her dresses have gone global. She has sewn over 3,000 dresses to date for about 2,000 weddings worldwide (usually multiple dresses per ceremony). From black tie weddings in churches, to rustic ceremonies in vineyards, Beth’s dresses have been everywhere, even Disney World. From all over the U.S to Thailand, Mexico, Canada, Japan, China, Scotland, Ireland, England, France and Australia, her dresses have been a part of celebrity to backyard weddings. Reviews and compliments on her dresses and service are nothing short of the highest praise! She had the experience of dressing the daughter of celebrity James Van Der Beek (actor in Dawson’s Creek) for her Los Angeles wedding and in addition, other high profile wedding guests. Olive and Fern dresses have been featured in print and online. They were voted by Martha Stewart Weddings magazine as “The Best-Dressed Flower Girls from Real Weddings.” Olive and Fern dresses have also been featured in Lake Bride Minnesota magazine.

On her Etsy site, Beth says: “My shop started as a need to create.

The process: Long walks in the woods, inspired my dress designs, as did long road trips through Idaho and Montana. Each dress is first thought up, sketched out freehand and then pieced together by me. Then the dress is born, I name it and begin cutting patterns. I take the first pictures and post the dress.

Next I wait,

it really is up to you to decide if the dress is a success or not.

I make each dress, start to finish, and my husband runs them to the post.

I love interacting with all the people who contact me. Each day I am thankful for what I am capable of creating. “

Northern Minnesota provides some beautiful settings for outdoor weddings and reception venues of varying capacities including The Vermilion Park Inn, Soudan; Grand Ely Lodge and Tofte Lake Center, Ely; Giants Ridge Golf and Ski Resort, Biwabik and Fortune Bay Resort Casino, Tower, to name a few.

So if this year’s Valentine’s Day brought you scrumptious chocolates, a well-versed greeting card or better yet, the joy and excitement of an impending wedding, you may consider choosing a lovely memory-making flower girl dress from Olive and Fern. Beth mainly sells on Etsy at, as the sewing shop is not open to walk-in customers.



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