In 2009, I began tailoring clothes in my parents basement with nothing more than a home sewing machine and youtube.com. After altering many garments, I wanted to try my hand at making something from scratch and a pair of jeans was my first project. Within a year and a half of this first pair, I had a waiting list of 400 people and my first interview with the local newspaper.
As a recent graduate from Clemson University with a degree in marketing, it was my goal to turn all this attention into a career and thus Billiam Jeans was born. I began searching through craigslist daily to find inexpensive old machines from closed down factories and within a short period of time had built a makeshift factory in my parents basement. Eventually moving into the back of a rock climbing gym for $50 a month and finally into our first split retail manufacturing / retail store where we spent a few years.
Those beginning years were incredibly difficult because I didn’t have any investment, legitimate training, or mentors who were doing a similar thing. Most textile manufacturing at this point had completely moved overseas and the information available was few and far between. This was pre instagram and the makers movement was about to begin.
A major leap forward for us was learning about an old mill in Greensboro, NC who was still making this historic material called Selvedge Denim which we exclusively purchased for many years. In 2017, they were unfortunately forced to close due to lack of demand from major brands. We purchased around 50k yards at their closing and currently offer the highest variety of discontinued Cone Mills denim of any denim brand today.
We make everything custom in our store in downtown Greenville, SC and have done so since 2009. Every pair made in house. We have remained debt free, credit card free, and investment free over all these years preferring the path of slow growth. The first 9 years of our business we also donated around 25k to fight human trafficking in Atlanta to an organization called Wellspring Living.
Now that we are approaching 10 years of business, we are about to turn our company in a very new and unexpected direction. We can’t speak more on what we are working on but the Billiam of the next ten years will look very different than the one it has been all these years.