What is the name of your shop and how can we find you?
The name of my shop is Dudley Denim. We also have a Facebook and Instagram.
How/why did you start making these products and open this shop?
I started making distressed denim after receiving pants and long overalls for my son from family members. We live in South Florida and it is hot 51 out of 52 weeks of the year, so I began to cut off all of the legs and make him shorts. He is tall and skinny and always outgrew pants in length way before he outgrew the waist anyway. One random nap time in February, I was cleaning the bathroom and decided to experiment with some bleach and his newly cut off overalls. I used a tie dye technique, wrapping rubber bands around the denim, and soaked the pair in some bleach water. I had no idea what I was doing, but was so happy with how they turned out and couldn’t wait to put them on my son later that day. I was excited for him to have a piece of clothing that no other child had, it was truly one-of-a-kind just like him. That next weekend he wore them to a get-together at a friend’s house and received so many compliments, this gave me that extra push to go and search for some thrifted denim the next week so I could experiment more. Along with the compliments, I heard a lot of “you should sell these,” but it took me another month to muster up the courage to actually open up an Etsy shop. I still hadn’t gone back to work, and was hoping to make a little extra income and prolong my stay home with my son by opening Dudley Denim.
How long have you been in business?
I opened Dudley Denim in March of 2014.
What is your background?
I have a B.S. in Fashion Merchandising from The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. Before Dudley Denim, while still in school, I worked at Adidas in the processing department, occasionally on the floor and as part of their visual merchandising team. I think I learned the most about running a business from my first job at Sheepscot River Pottery in Maine though. I was able to work in all departments of the store, from shipping and inventory, to dusting and sponging off pottery so it could be painted.
Tell us a little bit about your family.
I live with my son and his daddy. I have been with my boyfriend (Carlos) for 6 years, we met at a Halloween party the year before we started dating. Carlos is a chef and I barely cook because of this, food really does taste better when someone else has cooked it for you. We had our son (Gabriel) in October of 2012. He is an active, spunky little guy who loves all things with wheels. He has taught me so much in such a short amount of time, and as cliché as it sounds, I barely remember my life before him. We also have a Chihuahua (Simba), 2 cats (Twinkie and Dulcie) and a tank full of fresh water fish. As a family we love to explore the local parks and outdoor trails.
How does this company help your family? Or you?
Dudley Denim has allowed me to remain home with my son while exercising my creative side. I’ve been able to actually use a lot of the things I learned in college on my little business. This company has allowed us to stay afloat when jobs were lost and family members passed. It has given me the freedom to work when I want, even if it is at 11 p.m. after my son has gone to bed for the night, because that means I get to spend the whole day playing and learning with him.
Did you ever think you'd be doing this? What did you think you'd be doing instead?
I really never thought owning my own business was something I wanted to do. When I was in middle school I used to sketch out dresses and accessories in to my notebook from my fashion line “Priority One,” which happened to be sparked from the USPS box that was sitting on the desk in my bedroom at that moment. How original, right? Shortly after high school I often made my own tops from tank tops by gluing on fabric, buttons or ribbon when I couldn’t find that “perfect” shirt to wear to a party/club. I went to another college in Maine for 2.5 years for Occupational Therapy, and it wasn’t until I took a career test that I realized I was in the wrong field. I moved to Florida and graduated from AiFL when my son was only a few months old. I thought I would be using my degree working for a company in the product development department, or styling the displays for a major department store.
Does anyone help you with your shop?
For now, I run every single aspect of Dudley Denim. I cut, distress, bleach, wash, dry, fold, package and ship every single order along with managing all social media outlets and emails. Occasionally, I will have my partner make a post office run if I missed a scheduled USPS pick up. There also have been a few times that he has helped me distress the jeans, but I'm kind of a control freak.
How do you find time to run your shop and create products?
I have to do a majority of my work after my son goes to bed for the night or at nap time. I get a lot of new ideas in the shower, and find myself quickly taking notes as soon as I get out in fear that I will forget what I had been obsessing over for the last 20 minutes.
What do you love about this businesses?
My favorite part of this business is meeting all of the amazing shop owners on Instagram, There is a whole small shop community that is so strong, and I had no idea about this world before opening my shop. Seeing smiling happy babies and toddlers in something that I created with my own two hands is a very close 2nd.
What is the most challenging part of this business?
The most challenging part of this business is time management. I often find work time overflowing after my son has woken from his nap. I’ve scoured Pinterest and the internet looking for “work at home mom schedules” more than I’d like to admit. In reality, you just have to do what works for you and your family.
Where do you see your shop in the future?
I do not see denim going anywhere soon. I think I will be able to follow trends and fashions in the world of jeans while still sticking to my style that makes Dudley Denim, well - Dudley Denim.
Tell us your favorite product or your most favorite thing you've created?
My favorite thing that I have created is my newest style: The “Buffalo Rad” jeans. When I finally fished the jeans, I had the biggest smile on my face that could not be wiped off. I was so nervous to show my followers this style because I truly loved them, and didn’t want to be disappointed if they didn’t feel the same way. Now, I can’t keep these things in stock and they sold out in the first 40 minutes of introduction.
Do you have any advice for future mom-entrepreneurs?
My advice is to stop comparing your beginning to another shop’s middle. It is easy to get caught up in follower counts on IG and to see that your competitor may be doing “better” than you. It’s completely unnecessary and no good can come of it. Keep pushing and don’t be afraid of failure, no one is perfect. Also, write a daily “to do” list.
What are some of YOUR favorite shops/products, besides your own?
I have so many favorite shops, but here are a few: Lookie Loo Loo, Honey Bee True Co, The Upcycled Panda, Jollygood Apparel, Mama Sew Happy, Kid and Kind, Leatherlicious, Avenue G, The Magpie Co, Raine and Skye, Bannor Toys, Opposite of Far, Stay Suave Apparel, Noxx AZ, Tribe is Alive, Tiny Little Specks, June Park, Half Pint Kids, Potato Feet, and Lunaflect Co, just to name a few. There are so many other shops that I really admire and I could write pages.
Thank you Courtney, so happy to have you today! :)