Tell us about yourself and how RURAL got its start.
RURAL was officially founded in February of 2016, but its roots were established earlier. I have always had an interest in design, and worked freelance on projects while completing my degree in graphic arts. Whether designing murals while in Army stationed in Ft. Jackson, SC for basic training, or while in college, I constantly found new artistic projects to fuel my interests. One day someone suggested I think about making some of my designs into clothing, and so I did, completing freelance projects for nonprofits and friends. I met my husband Adam while in college on a blind date, although many assume we met in the Army since he also serves.
After graduating we relocated to the Kansas City area to begin our careers and start our family. I loved corporate America, working in human resources helping others achieve their dream jobs, but I could feel that I hadn't quite found what it was that I was looking for in my life. I felt like much of my time was taken away from our first son, and Adam also had a long-distance commute to his job as a Life Flight Pilot. After a very emotional deployment to Afghanistan in 2011 where he lost close friends to the crash of Extortion 17, he wanted to be able to work close to home, and the artistic bug coupled with thoughts of home were calling me. After a few years of thinking about it and the birth of our second son, we agreed to relocate to northern Missouri close to my parents and the family farm I was raised on.
I looked at it as a fresh start. Adam finally had the job he wanted close to home (he could literally bike down the hill to work) and I hosted and led instructed painting parties to meet people and continued designing apparel. The community had been so welcoming to our family, that I started incorporating local history and elements into my shirt designs and introduced them to a few new friends locally, and they were a huge hit! I learned how to sell my shirts online, and also held events for the community to shop locally. What started as a hobby became a full-time venture quickly. With the support of my husband and community, RURAL has grown into a trusted apparel brand with roots in the heart of America with a dedicated customer following.
What makes RURAL unique?
- There are so many great things about RURAL! The first is obviously our own line. I spent months sourcing the softest tee for our manufacturing. I am a mom, a veteran and am very active! I wanted something to look good in, but could still feel comfortable and be flattering without being restrictive. Our customers say that they are their favorite tees every for a reason and have a hard time wearing other tees after buying ours. One customer told us she actually feels guilty wearing them, because they were as comfortable as her pajamas!
- We focus on quality above all else. RURAL is about as small business, small town USA as it gets. In a small town, everyone works hard and where they spend their money is important. They expect a great product that can last that doesn’t break their paycheck. Because we know they work hard, we work hard to provide the best quality apparel. All of our RURAL branded unique graphics are designed and printed in house, and we carry other quality brands of US boutique designer apparel that are not easily accessible. We also feature other local artisans for our artwork and jewelry! Our customers appreciate our high quality, sustainably-made products which a majority are produced or finished in the US. We are always looking for gorgeous items to add to our collection that are a reflection of our lifestyle brand.
- We involve our community in our process and also support its growth. I strongly believe in supporting and growing our community, and so RURAL is a member of the Trenton Chamber of Commerce and Professional Leaders Uniting Grundy county. Making sure our community is a thriving location is very important to me. We could have chosen other locations to house RURAL, but we wanted to be accessible to the people that have supported us in our growth. While we started in our 17x20 home studio, I’m proud to say RURAL will be setting up shop in our small town of Trenton, Missouri right downtown next to North Central Missouri College. We currently have 3 employees and will expand once our first brick and mortar store opens in 2018. As we expand our wholesale nationwide, it is our goal to be able to offer more jobs to establish a strong foothold in our community.
What are some of your most popular items?
Overall our tees are by far the most popular, but we also sell blouses, leggings, denim, dresses and jewelry. Several of our designs have become viral and are purchased internationally. For example, we have one of our first tees, the Camp Crowder tee that was inspired by Lake Crowder, our local Missouri State Park. It has sold as far as Canada even though they have never heard of the park! You don’t have to be from here to enjoy our apparel. Our customers appreciate the backstory of our designs and the quality of our product whether they live 2 or 2000 miles away.
Where can shoppers find your products?
Many of our customers love to follow us on our Facebook page RURAL and we have a group called Shop RURAL where you can see new items before they are available in our online store. There are times where we will completely sell out of a style before it can ever hit our website! For locals, we host a Shop the Rack once a month and share the event details on our Facebook page. Our brick and mortar store will open in 2018 in historic downtown Trenton within walking distance of North Central Missouri College and city hall.
905 Main Street, Trenton, MO
You can also find a limited selection of our products T the West Bottoms in Kansas City as well as other retailers nationwide.
What is the future of RURAL?
We have been growing at an impressive rate. Shopify announced that we are one of their fastest growing online apparel stores for this year! I routinely receive inquiries from retailers that would love to carry our brand. I can see RURAL evolving and expanding manufacturing to reach a greater retail base and we would love to continue to develop our men’s line once our store is open. I would also love to expand and offer more locations in the Midwest as well as other areas of the country.