WATER VALLEY – As a child growing up in Charleston, Julia Ray was often labeled a misfit. It was her attire–a clash of colors and designs that didn’t match– maybe plaid and polka dots.
“But that was me,” Ray explains.
That bold look is now the blueprint for her new kid’s clothing line, JuJu Children’s Clothing by Julia Ray.
JuJu for short.
“When I started the collection, I was thinking you can’t do that,” Ray said of her design. “But when it comes to kids, it has a tendency to work,” she explains.
The proof is in the growing number of stores across the southeast who are now carrying the clothing line. Although Julia only started last summer, 19 stores in five states now offer her line.
Julia picked up the first stores on her own, starting locally and working her way across the state. In the last month two sales reps have started pitching her products across the southeast. The reps have added locations in Alabama, Louia-sana, Texas and Oklahoma.
In fact, the kids’ line has put Julia’s other passion, lady’s clothing, on the backburner as she juggles the design, production and marketing of the kid’s clothing line.
She offers several styles of dresses–A-line, bubble suits, pillow case dresses, pillow case rompers– for girls from 12 months to eight years old. She also offers short rompers and long rompers for boys up to four years-old.
“The fabrics that we choose and how we collectively put them together, most people aren’t doing that. We try to use a lot of bold colors and try to make it fun,” Julia explains.
The intent is to provide an outfit kids can wear during the week for play and to church on Sunday.
Each outfit is made with a three-prong approach–bold, colorful and attention to detail.
Julia uses high-grade cotton fabric and tons of different designs.
“Because I use so many different prints, it takes a lot of fabric. Most people are like, ‘your clothes are expensive,’” Julia explains. “They are, but it’s the fabric we use.”
Another emerging component of JuJu is “Bib and Burb,” a bib and matching burb rag designed from the same fabric. The smaller product actually allows Julia to utilize more of the fabric on each roll, or bolt, and cuts down on waste.
The marketing of “Bib and Burb” is less farther along than the clothing, but Julia said she has already received several orders.
Each outfit is hand-sewn in her shop located adjacent to the B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery in a small shop divided into a design studio and a workroom. Julia first moved to Water Valley in 2009 and also does alterations and creates custom-made gowns from the Main Street location.
Where To Find
The first store to offer the JuJu line was Peas & Carrots in Oxford. With that distinction, Julia provides the store with special products, including outfits with Ole Miss colors, not offered in any other location.
She doesn’t sell the outfits from her shop or online, preferring not to compete with her growing list of stores offering her product.
Stores in Mississippi offering the JuJu line in addition to the Oxford location include Puddle Ducks in Grenada, Special Daze in Senatobia, Silly Simpsons in Tupelo, and four stores in Jackson.