Designer lets outdoors devotees design own clothes

Designer lets outdoors devotees design own clothes

April 8th, 2011 by Casey Phillips in Business Around the Region

• What: Custom outdoor wear

• Company: Jk3 Softwear

• Address: 409 Broad St.

• Website: www.jk3softwear.com

• Telephone: 386-5193

• Owners: Kim Smith

• What's special: Jk3 is seeking to use materials drawn primarily from within a 60-mile radius of Chattanooga to keep the process as green as possible. By allowing customers to design their outdoor wear using high-performance materials, they receive a piece that meets their exact needs, said owner Kim Smith. "It's not off-the-rack product. It's the same fabric hanging over at Rock Creek, but we have the raw materials so you can make whatever you want."

• The origin story: Growing up in West Texas in a Mormon family, Smith said she's always been around sewing and began making her own clothes at age 5. As an adult, she spent several years in the metal smithing and jewelry but eventually decided to take up a different, more artistic pursuit. She developed the idea of a custom outfitter in July 2009, took possession of her Broad Street store January 2010 and, after producing sufficient stock inventory, opened her doors five months later.

• How long does it take to make: Two weeks, including an average of two fittings. Eventually, Smith said she would like to reduce that to 3-5 days.

• Where it's sold: Currently, only at the Broad Street location, but Smith said Jk3 will begin e-commerce service in September.

• What it costs: $80-$90 for vests, $120-$130 for jackets. Heavily customized pieces can exceed $200.

• Plans: "We've purchased Chilli Heads [LLC], so we're bringing their inventory into the store and selling it at our storefront," Smith said. She added that Jk3 has launched a manufacturing service to develop a line of yoga clothing for a local designer with the intention of expanding custom manufacturing even further in the future.

• Lessons of the trade: "I've learned that Chattanooga is a very creative and cool town, and people have embraced the idea and helped me develop it," Smith said. "The setup this town is starting for creative infrastructure reminds me of Austin 20 years ago. I think Chattanooga has that potential, and I want to be on the beginning of that to see it go in that direction."