Meet the Vendor: RADLEY RAVEN, INC.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Radley Raven and I make a variety of limited-edition men’s goods all handmade in Seattle from vintage fabrics. Some of these goods include: bow ties, pocket squares, neckties and neckerchiefs. The histories behind the fabrics and materials are incredible! Some come from old haberdasheries in Italy or descendants of Japanese handcrafters, others from US fabric mills that were closed back in the 1950’s. I personally inscribe each piece with the important historical information of the fabric, including the: circa date (estimated age of fabric), origin, type of material and the limited number that were made, most often, few and far between.
What’s the latest thing you’ve been working on?
My latest project has been neckties! And not just any ole necktie you would buy off the shelf, but old-fashioned Italian style multi-fold neckties. Multi-fold ties require a lot more fabric than a regular one. The result, however, is a noticeably different weight and a beautiful lie to the tie.
Any new exciting news you’d like to share with our readers?
Yes! I am actually going to launch my Summer 2015 line, Dear Summer, at the Urban Craft Show! Originally I was going to release this line much earlier, but I figured what better stage and platform to do it on other than Urban Craft.
What was your first memory of making something?
I remember drawing basketball shoes all day in class back in sixth grade. As far as making goods, that would not come until right after high school. I launched a clothing line of t-shirts and hats named Tours. I actually remember driving all the way to Canada for my first 12 hats, kind of fits the name now that I think of it. I followed that up with Regalia, a more sophisticated line that I launched right after graduating from college. Tours was moderately successful; Regalia, despite being much cooler in my opinion, was completely unsuccessful. I learned from both and applied that knowledge to form my latest line.
What is your favorite new product for 2015?
I am really excited about the release of the neckties. The construction of them is remarkable and completely old-fashioned which is really cool. I have had a lot of people asking and interested in neckties so it will be great to see the response.
How far will you be traveling to come to UCU?
I live here in Seattle so not very far haha.
What do you love most about craft show vending?
I love the opportunity to meet and chat with people who have the same affinity for handmade and local goods. It is always great to hear their story, background and what they do. It’s also cool to connect with all the different vendors too. I am always fascinated by their passion and how they translated that into their brand and products.
How did you get started in your business?
Several years ago, I had the idea of bringing back the essence of the Roaring Twenties. There is something so alluring about that era that I just love – Hollywood, Gangsters, Jazz & Gin. It was a time of great prosperity, decadence, sophistication & style. I set out to make my own version of this period. Something cool, sophisticated with an air of mystery.
Is this a full-time business for you?
Where do you see your business in 3 years?
I have already started expanding the product line. Over the next three years, I plan to continue to add to this expansion of goods from bags to jewelry to cuff links. Another big goal is the launch into retail with select partners around the world.
What’s something you’ve learned through running your business in the past 12 months?
I have learned so many things in the past 12 months. Most notably, I have continued to advance my knowledge in identifying and buying high quality vintage fabrics as well as how important cash flow is. It just so happens that the two go hand in hand. Managing cash flow well allows me the opportunity to continue to purchase all of the beautiful vintage fabrics on a constant basis.
What’s your favorite item that you sell?
My favorite item to date is a bow tie that I made from a 1970’s hand dyed and hand woven Thailand silk. I purchased this silk with the manufacturer’s (Bombay Bazaar Co.) original fabric care instructions and original packaging. It made a beautiful bow tie and pocket square and remains one of my personal favorites to date.
What do your customers love most about your product(s)?
Each piece has a unique story. The products are handmade here in Seattle, but the fabrics come from all over the world. As I mentioned earlier, some come from old haberdasheries in Italy, others from descendants of Japanese handcrafters or from US fabric mills that were closed in the 1950’s. I even have some fabrics that are soon to be bow ties, pocket squares, or neckties that are from the 1800’s! I believe my customers enjoy these backstories and appreciate the fact that I take the time to personally inscribe each piece with that important historical information of the fabric.
What’s the best experience you’ve ever had with one of your customers?
I have done a lot of custom projects with customers for special events, weddings or clients looking to add unique pieces to their wardrobe. I always enjoy working directly with them to create that perfect outfit in their mind. My best experience however came from a customer service issue with one of my early pocket squares. A seam had come loose and the gentleman that owned the square was nice enough to reach out to let me know what had happened. Of course, I was totally embarrassed that such a thing had occurred. However, I promised him that I would fix the problem and send him a new one. In the end, we came up with a completely new stitch and finish of even finer quality for all of my pocket squares. I named the stitch after this gentleman so company wide it is now called, the Timothy Stitch.