Lady Fuller opened The Blues Jean Bar in 2004, a chain of denim boutiques in Atlanta, Chicago and San Francisco with a signature bar behind which “jeantenders” worked. Over time, the stores suffered from overzealous expansion plans and some management difficulties.
In November, Fuller appeared on CNBC’s “The Profit” with the goal of revitalizing the stores. The television experience resulted in a complete rebranding and a new partnership with the show’s host Marcus Lemonis.
Renamed Denim & Soul, the new concept specializes in denim and cashmere for a high-end, relaxed look that speaks to a quality-savvy clientele. As Fuller noted, the customer is now a little older and less price-sensitive.
Fuller, a lifetime denim buff, admits it would be great if yoga pants could be worn everywhere, but she said that simply is not realistic. On the other hand, she said sweaters and jeans present an alternative that is more dressed-up, but still comfortable. “It’s a very tried and true look,” she added.
Since the launch, the denim inventory at the stores has stayed largely the same with a slightly broader selection. Fuller has retained her favorite vendors, which include Canadian brand Fidelity Denim, DL1961 and Henry & Belle, a small brand out of Chicago.
Fuller’s new plan also involves expanding Denim & Soul into 30 plus stores and into a strong national brand. Last month, Fuller and Lemonis opened a fourth Denim & Soul location in Lake Forest, Illinois. The duo plans to have 12 to 13 Denim & Soul stores by early 2016.
“I think Denim & Soul will be a premier denim store nationwide,” Fuller said, noting that a American specialty store for denim doesn’t exist yet.