Apparel Industry Management Grad Launches Blue Jean Baby (Interview)

October 5, 2016

Apparel Industry Management Graduate Lola Rogers (pictured, right, with her sister and co-founder Taylor) recently launched the made-in-America women's line, Blue Jean Baby, a capsule collection and denim and vintage collection. We caught up with Lola to learn more about her company.  

What led you to start Blue Jean Baby? My sister and I always dreamt of having our own clothing line and store, so once I graduated from Arizona State, I decided to continue my education at FIDM to gain as much knowledge as I could about the industry before we took that step. She was still in college at the time majoring in Business, so once I finished with the program, I took a sourcing and development job in at a large manufacturer. I learned a lot there and was able to make some industry connections that have proved to be invaluable in the preparation and development of our line.

With our combined experience in retail and development, we decided the time was right to jump in. Growing up in Texas, we developed a love affair with the easy going, carefree vibe that a pair of blue jeans give to an outfit, but we have also always been drawn to luxurious fabrics that make up vintage lingerie, like silks and lace. Our line is a combination of these elements. On top of our manufactured line, we rework vintage denim with embroidery, patches and other elements, as well as curate a range of vintage for our e-commerce store. 

 

How would you describe the collection's aesthetic? Our capsule collection could be described as minimalist, classic, and luxurious. On the other hand, our denim and vintage collection is a little harder to pin point because it has a range. It all depends on how you style it, which is our favorite part of curating the product mix we sell! It can be grungy, chic, all-American, military, farm girl, or era-inspired. It’s really all in how the piece is worn, and the confidence that’s exuded along with it. Our customer is your laid-back all-American girl who is inspired by culture, art, and music. She’s always down to try new things and meet new people because through these experiences she learns, finds new passions, and falls in love with what the world has to offer. On the other hand, she feels most at home in a pair of blue jeans and a white t-shirt.

Why was it important for you to produce in L.A.? Well, there are a few reasons: first, I’m the type of person who works best through face-to-face collaboration. Transparency is key. When I was doing sourcing and development for the private label manufacturer, I was constantly back and forth with China and although it is cost effective, it definitely doesn’t make things any easier. Between the time difference and holidays, it was difficult to work out even the smallest of details in a single day--most development updates took two to three days to work out. The ability to work so closely with my manufacturer, to source my fabrics, labels, packaging, etc. is critical to my creative process.

Secondly, and most importantly, we want to support American business. Sure, there is a cost associated with manufacturing goods at home, but there are also customers who understand that and make it a priority to shop with that in mind. Lastly, having that ‘Americana’ vibe to our store, it only makes sense to manufacture here in LA. We take great pride in curating our pieces at home, even our turquoise jewelry is handmade in New Mexico by the Navajo and Zuni Tribes. 

What is it like working with your sister? Working with my sister is a dream. Of course there are tiffs and arguments here and there but overall we work well together because we each have our own strengths and weaknesses. We bring different things to the table in all aspects of the business, from our personal style to our sales and marketing styles. Since it’s just us right now, we have to wear many hats and we are still learning. As far as our roles, we work together when designing our collection, as well as sourcing our vintage and turquoise. Once we have the designs nailed down, I take over the roll of sourcing and production. She lives in Texas, where we house our inventory, so she deals with shipping and logistics.

We try to source vintage together, but we have places we both work with in our respective cities as well! When we have a new haul of vintage, Taylor works on product description and photography and I update the website. She’s also our social media guru and I couldn’t be more thankful for that! She is great with content and keeping us cohesive and just overall vibes. When we have something big like an event, trade show, or for instance, our big photoshoots- we make sure to both be there. It works out great because we see each other even more than we did before and I have the opportunity to get back to my roots as much as I need.

Where do you see the line headed in the near future? We love clothes that feel soft and easy, so that’s what we aim to create. Our capsule collection is mostly made from washed silks, rayon blends, and cotton. We will continue to put an emphasis on quality fabric, as we believe that is what will set us apart from competing brands. High-quality fabrics are timeless. Living in LA is like a blessing and a curse because you get so consumed with keeping up with new trends and of course, the weather is pretty much the same year round (perfect), so it can lead to confusion. Our capsule collection wasn’t meant to be seasonal but rather classic and enduring, something that is very feasible for southern California residents but might not resonate as highly with customers in areas that have true weather. While we plan to continue designing timeless pieces, we also want to expand our reach and you will definitely see that in our future collections. We’re currently working on our second collection and plan to launch that in January, so keep an eye out. 

Categories: Fashion Design, Apparel Industry Management, Careers