Arkansas City native and former Factory Connection manager Raven Birmingham has started her own clothing line.
“I started NormL ThreadZ because I love retail,” she said in an interview earlier this week.
In recent months, Birmingham has been working on concepts for the clothing line, which has been featured on her Facebook page.
“Right now, I’m looking for sponsors to help get me started so I can open an actual store in Ark City,” she said.
Eventually, Birmingham hopes to find a downtown storefront, but for now, she is selling her wares online.
Birmingham’s choice to start her own product line came about following a personal tragedy.
“My dad recently passed away, and his nickname was ‘Norml,’” she said.
“He always talked about me doing my own thing. That’s why I’m using his name. It’s my reminder everyday that I’m doing this for me, and in memory of my dad and what he would want me to do.”
Her father was her No. 1 supporter, Birmingham said.
“He always had my back,” she said. “If he were here now, I think this would make him proud.”
Beginning of a journey
Losing her father led to other painful changes in Birmingham’s life.
“After (my dad) passed, I really struggled,” she said. Not long after, she and Factory Connection parted ways.
“I put my life into that store, and although I’m not perfect, I really tried,” she said.
Birmingham said her father hated how drained she seemed while working for her former employer.
“He hated the amount of time they drained out of me and he felt I was unappreciated,” she said.
But Birmingham said she still wanted to help people and she still enjoyed working with fashion.
“I guess this is my way of trying to get back the part of my soul that left with him when he passed,” she said.
During her time in retail, Birmingham pushed to help raise funds for various causes through her connections.
Often, she would purchase items and request donations to cover the costs, in order to donate to those in need.
“I absolutely plan to incorporate helping people (with NormL ThreadZ),” Birmingham said.
“I will go right back to everything I had been doing.”
She noted her ability to help others will depend upon how much money she raises and the cost of opening a storefront.
Birmingham said she is excited about the NormL ThreadZ products she will offer.
“I have found some really awesome product lines (to carry),” she said.
“I will also do custom vinyl work. I’m hoping for a customized retail store, where you can still find exactly what you’re looking for and add your own personal touch, if you choose to.”
The style Birmingham is working toward is what she describes as “anything but mainstream.”
“Unique? Eccentric, abnormal, heterodox … just different,” she said.
Birmingham also is working with several artists to develop the NormL ThreadZ products she will offer.
“I have partnered with local artists to design special (T-shirts) and long-sleeves,” she said.
“Not only does this build customers for me, but for them, as well.”
The artwork they create will be turned into graphics for the clothes that she will sell.
“My number-one artist is Joeni Fragadakis. She is amazing!” Birmingham said.
Others she named are Colby Austin, Ernie Isom, Damion Smith and herself. “I’m always looking for new artists, designs and styles,” she said.
NormL ThreadZ purchasing, orders
Birmingham currently is operating NormL ThreadZ solely as an online retailer through social media.
“Right now, I just have my Facebook page,” she said. “Anything custom can be sent via (private message) and I can go over pricing (and more).”
But Birmingham is hoping to open her downtown storefront within the next several months.
“It will be a boutique style, without boutique pricing,” she said. “I still want to do custom tees, stickers and car decals, too.”
In addition to being locally created, orders are processed in an average of two to three days.
“Something super unique and detailed might take an extra day,” Birmingham said. “I have tried my best so far to get orders out within 24 hours.”
There are no limits to sizing when she is creating her products.
“I will do whatever I can to accommodate everyone,” she said. “If I have to work harder to make sure every customer is treated equal, I will.”
For more information, visit NormL ThreadZ on Facebook.