DALLAS — Cryptic notes found in her 14-year-old daughter’s bedroom inspired Jan Ledford to create a graphic line of unisex apparel for juniors called N-E-WAZ (pronounced “anyways”).
She and longtime friend Shari Lawrenz emblazoned some of the words and symbols on jeans, T-shirts, sweatshirts, boxers and caps. In a test at the last Mega Market here, the response was so strong that the pair decided to get serious about a business plan and financial backing.
They talked to friends, securing 10 investors plus themselves and set up an office in the Menswear Mart and a showroom in the International Apparel Mart here. Joe Hendrix, one of the shareholders and formerly an accountant, is president; Ledford is vice president of sales and marketing and, Lawrenz is vice president of production.
Lawrenz already had some experience in fashion; she had been a designer of private label knitwear and western wear for Miller’s Harness Co., East Rutherford, N.J.
N-E-WAZ now has an ambitious sales plan of $2 million this year and claims to have 200 specialty store accounts.
All styles are cut from cotton, and most are splashed with slogans written in a quirky shorthand that uses symbols and phonetics — a written language that Ledford claims is popular with teenagers.
Artwork for the apparel, all of which is copyrighted, is designed by a changing roster of kids aged 10 to 17.
“It just depends on what kids are at the house on the weekend,” said Ledford. “At school they write notes, work on the art and submit it all to us. They have a good time participating.”
“Our goal was to make the line visually challenging, interactive and fun,” explained Sheri Lawrenz.
At market, buyers shopping the N-E-WAZ showroom at 2B87 will find European overdyed T-shirts in brights and earth tones. The T-shirts and sweatshirts serve as the canvas for graphic artwork and offbeat slogans, which include a symbol for hope and phrases such as R-U-N-2-IT (“Are you into it?”).
Jeans feature the N-E-WAZ logo on the back patch, and flies on jeans proclaim N-E-T-I-M-E (Anytime).
Wholesale prices are $9 for a baseball cap to $18 for jeans or a sweatshirt. The line is sewn by contractors in Dallas.
Besides its corporate headquarters in room M2G02 in the Menswear Mart here, the line also is shown by sales representatives in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and in Las Vegas at WWD/MAGIC International.