This is a follow up story for Crawford Denim and Vintage Co.. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hey! I’m Susie Shaughnessy, the owner, and designer of Crawford Denim and Vintage Co. It is all USA made denim and apparel paired with a one-of-a-kind collection of vintage goods. Crawford Denim is a blend of Americana standards and timeless designs. The brand appeals to folks who like the blend of locally made products and vintage-inspired styles.
Over the last year, customers ensured Crawford Denim stayed in business through their support of USA made goods and sustainable wardrobe.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Together with some great companies, we navigated the unforeseen turbulence of local production. Due to tight Covid restrictions, reduced labor force, and increases in US manufacturing, developing and producing apparel was the hardest it has ever been. Factories were overwhelmed trying to maintain the health and well-being of their employees while increasing their output from higher demand. Multiple companies flooded the limited number of local manufactures for the first time in decades. It exposed the harsh reality that we as a nation rely heavily on other countries to produce everything we consume. As the wave of shutdowns worldwide continues the ripple effects are perpetually affecting the supply chain for all businesses. As a result, I was fortunate to have good standing with many of our factories + suppliers. Creating products for other brands allowed my business to be maintained.
While some businesses closed, I feel fortunate that I was able to keep Crawford Denim moving forward. Working with small boutiques, I focused on more limited edition products. Our customers loved the exclusive styles as part of the Holiday Pop Up shops.
The brand’s other focus was on supporting the musicians we work with + sponsor. Our singular photoshoot for the year featured the lovely Victoria Bailey. Along with Victoria, we promoted the new music releases and shows of Rob Leines and Boulevards, having created + curated styles for their album covers and tours. Showcasing the talents of others has been a cornerstone of the brand: cool folks wearing cool clothes.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
The past year has been rough on everyone, so I have no complaints about making it to the other side of the collective experience relatively unscathed. I was truly fortunate to have more work than I could keep up with, but after a year and a half of running on four hours of sleep a night has taken a toll. I am trying to scale back how much work is done for other brands and create equally for Crawford Denim. Working with other brands opened up a ton of new resources and suppliers, along with pushing me to create a wider variety of products. The exposure to newness informs the future designs for Crawford Denim - while staying true to the identity of effortless, heritage style.
Utilizing friends and family with more experience and talent for specific tasks has helped immeasurably.
The variety of sales outlets allowed more flexibility during the evolving restrictions of the past year. With in-person markets + shows canceled, I relied heavily on the webshop and small boutiques. Keeping up with the changing appetite of our customers has been interesting to chart. With music being so integral to our brand, I started offering a selection of vintage vinyl records. Folks are interested in all the music that plays here in the studio. Having an extended collection of funk, soul, country, and rock + roll available online has been a fun new addition to the vintage goods.
Creating a new workspace, one that is clean and inspiring has been a long time in coming. I always worked from home but the clutter from being a lifelong collector weighed heavily on me as more work came in. The refreshed space allows room for more ideas and designs and streamlines the daily work.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
I want to focus on developing more manufacturing in the US. Our country is finally seeing the ramifications of being so reliant on other countries for their goods. I want to help create a better balance of locally and off-shore produced apparel. Additionally, we will continue to focus on creating styles from deadstock fabrics + trims. These yardages are incredibly long-lasting, quality materials that are better used in apparel than slowly disintegrating in overly taxed landfills. There has been a lot of effort to educate folks about how the goods we consume can be a positive purchase - Crawford Denim aims to continue to be a part of this movement.
Working with our favorite small boutiques, we will be expanding our Denim and Apparel collections this year. We’re creating both private label designs for these hometown shops along with more of our own Crawford Denim sweatshirts, dresses, coats, and denim. It has been slowly developing, but the flood of new designs is coming!
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I’m currently listening to the audiobook Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The connection to the earth and how we thrive from cultivating harvests from her is full of great life lessons. All apparel is based in cotton fields, linking our daily clothing to how we grow our materials. The book is helping to influence how we source our denim and fabrics. Companies like Huston Textiles have been weaving on vintage machinery using US-grown fibers. Investing in quality products like theirs comes through in a higher quality style for our customers.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
I’m learning to rely on others for help. Not being able to afford staff to help run all aspects of Crawford Denim made me learn a lot of new skill sets, but it has its limitations. The brand is only as good as I am.
Utilizing friends and family with more experience and talent for specific tasks has helped immeasurably. Many of them have great ideas and critical suggestions, and integrating their contributions has been for the betterment of the brand.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
This year my long-time friend and a previous co-worker have joined Crawford Denim for freelance work. Together we manage the private label development and production.
Having worked together allowed us to be on the same page immediately, while still bringing fresh perspectives to our collaborations. I’m looking forward to the day Crawford Denim has a full staff.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Crawford Denim and Vintage Co. has provided an update on their business!
Over 1 year ago, we followed up with Crawford Denim and Vintage Co. to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
Discover the best strategies of successful business owners
Join our newsletter and receive our handcrafted recap with the best insights shared by founders in Starter Story each week.
Useful, convenient, and free:
Did you know that brands using Klaviyo average a 95x ROI?
Email, SMS, and more — Klaviyo brings your marketing all together, fueling growth without burning through time and resources.
Deliver more relevant email and text messages — powered by your data. Klaviyo helps you turn one-time buyers into repeat customers with all the power of an enterprise solution and none of the complexity.