Stubborn Jeans was begun by 17-year old Sophia Scanlan in her bedroom. She was 16 at the time. Had about $18 in her savings account and desperately wanted the super-short decorated shorts she was craving on the internet. After fruitless attempts at saving up for her $120 dream pair by washing the dog she ransacked the house for paints, brushes, laces, fabric and some mom jeans, went up to her room for about four hours and emerged with a couple pair of REALLY COOL shorts.
She wore them to school. Her friends saw them. They ordered. She made them shorts. Her friends wore them to school. Girls in the hallway saw them. They ordered and wore them. Now Sophia was busy. One night she had to make five pairs of custom shorts and study for a History Final. That's when her costume designer/theatre director/teacher mom came on board. Victoria started helping Sophia and with her daughter's encouragement, created her own upcycled designs.
Stubborn Jeans was born.
Sophia, a relatively shy though deeply stubborn girl, got up the guts to approach some local boutiques in the area with her shorts. Every one said "yes". That was freaky. On the way out from this one really funky little shop, the owner asked if Sophia had any fall clothes. Horrified, Sophia said "no!" Victoria, excited, said "yes!". In the car they started working on the fall line.
Money was interesting. Sophia's most complex financial negotiations were centered on how to stretch her Christmas money to her birthday money in August. Now she was saving receipts from countless thrift and fabric store trips and paying down 10% of all earnings toward the overhead. Before Stubborn Jeans, overhead referred to how much room she had in the airplane on her family trip to the midwest! $45 to enter the fair in Haworth, $300 on trimmings in New York - an emergency trip to buy more skull studs to fill desperately needed shorts orders! After an initial layout of $2000 of family money, Stubborn Jeans was breaking even but a bit more money was needed to buy supplies and a new sewing machine.
The eco-friendly upcycling piece of this business is one of the best parts. Being a paycheck to paycheck family but living in a well-to-do area where most of Sophia's friends shop at pretty ritzy stores, Victoria had been showing Sophia how to look thriftily fashionable by trolling the Goodwill for many years. Jumping on that practice with gusto, Sophia will upcycle anything from anywhere: a thrift, a garage sale, her brother's closet; once the daughter-mother team starts dying/spattering/painting/studding/lacing and ripping - they've made something unique and amazing from what might have been wasted.
The best part is being together. We have one more year together before Sophia goes to college to study fashion and criminal justice. We'll keep distance designing which is going to be such a great challenge but the past year has been a beautiful one of sharing, learning from each other, supporting each other's ideas and experimenting. Racing into New York and illegally parking on 38th Street to get the final 15 minutes in the trimmings store so we could buy last-minute skull trim in order to fill orders is the stuff of hilarious memories.
Going to the Punk to Couture exhibit at the Met and then talking non-stop in the car on the way home about new designs will stay with us forever. The support from family and friends buying shorts has been best of all. Thank you all so much for any help you can give our fledgling company and keep ordering! Love Sophia and Victoria.
Risks and challenges
Our biggest challenge is time. Sophia is applying to colleges, running track, being a senior at a pretty challenging high school, co-teaching fashion up-cycling classes with her mom and maintaining a healthy social life. Victoria, her mom, is a full-time teacher, designer and mom of three kids. As we grow, we might need to add more staff. That could be great opportunity for us to nurture another young designer. Since Victoria teaches super-smart, talented high school students she knows some really great young designers. Jobbing out the work and encouraging new design ideas would be a next natural step in a company that was started by a high school girl.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (40 days)