Retail Roundup: Blacksburg woman is behind emerging jean company; updates on Wing Boss, Naticakes and Bloop
A Blacksburg woman with an entrepreneurial streak and a hankering for great jeans started her own line of selvedge denim that is catching on with specialty shops from Richmond to New York City.
Ashley James, 28, is the sole owner of Ruell and Ray, the jean company she named after her grandparents.
The Clemson business graduate started the company two and a half years ago with a $30,000 loan from a family friend, about $10,000 of her own money, 30 yards of denim and a seamstress she found on Craigslist.
Now the company, which started manufacturing men’s jeans, is set to release a women’s line early next year and expects to be profitable by the end of the year, James said.
The company sets itself apart by using fabric that is no longer in production, called deadstock. James also sources the thread, rivets and buttons from companies in the United States.
James started by ripping apart several pairs of jeans so she could study the construction and come up with her own pattern. But she didn’t know anything about pattern making or sewing and her patterns were terrible, she said. So she placed an ad on Craigslist for a seamstress. She got a response from a woman who took James’ 30 yards of denim and made 12 pairs of men’s jeans.
James gave those jeans to some male friends who tried them.
“It just kind of snowballed from there,” she said.
Read more about James and her company in the column.
Also in the column, Wing Boss owner Gene Brown is planning a Dec. 1 opening; Vinton will get its first frozen yogurt shop, and Naticakes is still planning to open at the Bonsack Kroger.