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Startup bets 2 can fit into area jeans market

Lena Price February 8, 2013 6

Travis Butler founded Daycreature in the summer of 2012.

Travis Butler is betting the Richmond market has room enough for another high-end custom jeans startup.

The 25-year-old Richmond native launched Daycreature Denim, an online men’s jeans retailer. Butler designs the jeans to order and assembles every pair by hand. They start at $180.

Butler, a graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, started Daycreature last summer and sold his first pair in October. He’s filled about 20 orders so far.

Daycreature will be Richmond’s second high-end denim merchant. Shockoe Denim opened in the Shockoe Slip in October, but Butler said he’s confident the Richmond market can support both companies.

“Denim has become a big business in America,” Butler said. “It’s a lifestyle for a lot of people. I’ve had customers from age 17 up to age 60.”

Shockoe Denim owner Anthony Lupesco, who met with Butler a few times over the summer, said there should be room for both companies.

“He’s a talented guy,” Lupesco said. “I say the more, the better.”

Daycreature’s jeans start at $180.

It takes about eight hours to make a pair of jeans from start to finish, Butler said.

“When I started, it took about 12 or 13 hours to finish a pair,” Butler said. “Working with denim is a lot different than working with silk or other fabrics. I basically had to re-teach myself how to sew after.”

Butler taught himself how to sew while studying digital art and art history at Elon University.

“When I got out of school, I didn’t want to pursue fine art,” Butler said. “I was looking for something more egalitarian. And this is something I was really interested in.”

After finishing an internship with Connecticut-based Hartford Denim, Butler said he decided to branch out on his own. He invested about $5,000 in raw materials and a vintage sewing machine.

Butler orders the bulk of the denim from North Carolina-based wholesaler Cone Denim Mills. He works primarily with raw and selvedge denim, material that’s spun on a loom. Customers can choose from different thread colors and natural dyes.

“It’s the same material the old Levis were made out of,” Butler said.

Butler currently works out of his home, but he’s searching for a work space in Oregon Hill or the Fan. He plans to expand into women’s wear by the end of the year.

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6 Comments »

  1. Drew February 8, 2013 at 8:37 am - Reply

    $180 for 8 hours of labor. He really isn’t paying himself that much. He needs to figure out how to cut the production time down to 1 hour.

  2. Matt February 8, 2013 at 9:02 am - Reply

    @Drew – yeah that’s real reasonable. Cut your 8 hour production time down to 1 hour. Wow.

    $22 an hour isn’t bad for just getting started, and having zero overhead cost. The real charm is that he’s doing this by hand.

    Good luck to this dude!

  3. Heath February 8, 2013 at 9:02 am - Reply

    Welcome to the Neighborhood…

    Daycreature Denim (retail merchant); licensee Travis Butler, 202 Strawberry St., Richmond 23220

  4. Ned February 8, 2013 at 9:38 am - Reply

    He should be fully confident that he can exist in this market since his clientele is not limited to metro Richmond. But as drew pointed out, getting just over $20/hour for his time is not going to cut it.

  5. ScottB February 8, 2013 at 10:24 am - Reply

    The bigger problem seems to be sales. 20 orders in 4 months, or 5 orders a month makes this more of a hobby than a business at this point. The article didn’t indicate if sales have grown since that first order in October, or how Travis is marketing the product. It’s too early in the business to expect this entrepeneur to be making any money (don’t forget to include the cost of materials as well as labor), so the focus should be on making sure that the brand has momentum and that exposure and demand is increasing. I’m curious how he determined his price point. Best of luck to you Travis.

  6. Christina February 13, 2013 at 9:14 am - Reply

    Even if this is just a hobby, his hobby is paying more than mine.

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