NEW YORK — In an interview this week, True Religion Jeans founder Jeffrey Lubell confirmed that his recent merger of his company into the shell of a publicly traded enterprise founded to hunt for valuable minerals was the conclusion of a months-long search for a way to ensure that his company was able to stand on its own feet.

“With my other two brands, I made bad decisions,” he explained, in reference to his earlier loss of control over the Bella Dahl and Hippie Jeans brands through court fights with partners. “I said, ‘I’d rather do things myself than to sell out and go through that again.’ When you find a partner, you have to answer to someone else’s rules and regulations because people who put the money in think they deserve majority ownership.”

Still, Lubell acknowledged that a merger of his company, formerly called Guru Denim Inc., into the Vancouver-based Gusana Explorations Inc. wasn’t the first option to come to mind.

After launching the True Religion brand last fall, he first shopped it to a major publicly traded U.S. apparel vendor.

But the offer he received, he said, was unpalatable, with a lower selling price than he wanted for giving up control of the business.

After deciding against that route, he turned to a friend in search of a direct investment. That friend put him in touch with the investment bankers behind Gusana. As reported, the merger of True Religion into Gusana went through in June and Lubell landed a 52.6 percent stake in that company, along with a $300,000 investment into its common shares. Those funds, he said, will be used to fuel the growth of the fledgling brand.

Last week, Gusana officially changed its name to True Religion Apparel Inc. and moved its registered headquarters to El Segundo, Calif.

As president, majority owner and the company’s top-ranking official, Lubell said, “I get to drive the company the way I would like to do it, rather than having someone else tell me the way I want to do things.”

Lubell’s current growth plans include rolling out a line of men’s sportswear featuring wool-blend pants cut in the same silhouettes as its jeans.Lubell said the firm, which has not yet reported financial results in its various filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, is on track to ship $4 million of goods its first year out.

“Next year, our conservative growth projections are for $6 million. I think we can double or maybe even triple that, based on what’s going on today, but I like to be more conservative,” he said. “Being a public company now, everything is out there, and we want to make the projections.”

During its first year in business, the company also has lined up distribution and licensing deals in Japan, Canada, Italy, Spain, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. Lubell said he’s also starting to think about licensing the name.

The thinly traded stock closed at $1.41, up 4 cents in Thursday over-the-counter trading.

Lubell, a former fabric salesman, got into the jeans business, along with his wife, Kimberly, in 1998 with Bella Dahl. Reflecting on the two brands he lost during court fights, Lubell said he welcomes his changed circumstances.

“I had an opportunity to get some nice money into the company and have the ability to consistently raise capital if necessary to support the brand without having a partner to answer to,” he said.

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