A successful designer must be innovative and task risks. James Davis of L.R. CLOTHIER embodies those characteristics and more. He is pushing the envelope by building a fashion business in Memphis, which is truly risky business. Here is the conclusion or our conversation with Davis, who has persevered and proven that fashion can thrive in Memphis.
Carlee McCullough: How would you describe your artistic and creative style?
James Davis: At L.R. CLOTHIER our house style is contemporary classics. Your wardrobe is an investment and that is how we approach our clients. Trends are great, but they come and go so quickly. For example, it’s much more fitting (no pun intended) to have a 3-button suit model, as compared to a 4-button front. That jacket model will be here forever, yet you can adjust the lapel opening or stance, giving it more of your own personality. There can be different options on the color pic stitching. This gives you that designer’s flare. Italian influences have always been the foundation. The best tailoring and fabrics are woven in Italy and that is reflected in many of our designs.
C.M.: What are the components to bringing a concept to market?
J.D.: Know your business, know your product, know the demand, know your target audience.
C.M.: As a business owner, what is the greatest reward?
J.D.: It’s a wonderful feeling, just knowing that your level of success ultimately is dependent solely upon you. You define your ceiling.
C.M.: What’s most challenging as a business owner overall?
J.D.: Having the mindset to know your business model will come with adjustments. The component that will drive aspiring designers and business people to quit is not having proper funding. Every business takes some type of significant investment. Doesn’t mean you have to have a large sum of money, but know how the funding will come. There’s this store that closed downtown. I met with the owner and asked, “What happened?” He said, “My clients were all going east, relocating their practice.” I was wondering why he didn’t move. Other people can offer good opinions and ideas, even if they aren’t directly part of your business or industry. Never become isolated in your thinking.
C.M.: What’s most challenging as a business owner in “Memphis?”
J.D.: The most challenging aspect of being a business owner in Memphis? Well, Memphis hasn’t quite become that dynamic melting (pot) yet. So it is not easy for others to understand your vision, drive or even being a business owner as a whole. One reason cities like Dallas or Atlanta are thriving like they are is they’ve had an influx of people from all over, bringing with them a myriad of brain power and innovative thinking. There are a lot of “pockets” of people in Memphis, so be sure you know how to mix in and network.
C.M.: What’s your overall goal in this industry?
J.D.: The goal is to see the L.R. CLOTHIER brand continue to evolve. We’ve had a good amount of reach locally, now we’re looking to begin to expand into other regional markets, like Nashville, Atlanta and Dallas. In three to five years, the plan is to have a L.R. CLOTHIER store in two additional cities, with one store carrying the women’s collection, Lunden Renee.
C.M.: Any closing remarks?
J.D.: I just want to say live your life with no regrets for having tried something that you wanted to do. Listen to that voice deep within yourself, then apply the things on the outside to make it all come together. Your road to success may have some bumps and stalls along the way. Don’t allow that to make you quit. Notice I say “make you quit” because when you have a true passion and vision, quitting is not your option, making adjustments can exist. Unlike in traffic, there are no stop signs, just caution lights, arrows and signs of falling rocks or danger up ahead. Pay attention. If you think you see a STOP sign, it’s really just a mirage – keep going. Thanks to The New Tri-State Defender for this opportunity. God Bless.