Spring is a tough time to stay within Clovis Unified’s dress code, students say, because shorts and dresses sold in popular clothing stores aren’t long enough to comply with the district’s “five inches above the kneecap” rule.
It’s also tough to find tank tops with straps that are wider than two inches, to comply with the district’s dress code, said sophomore Emily Laing, who attended Buchanan High School but now does her work online through Clovis Online School.
Laing, 16, and her business partner Charles Harris, 17, came up with a solution:
“CEAL Clothing is an in-dress-code clothing line for Clovis Unified and also Fresno Unified students,” Laing said. “Everything we have is in dress code. We have dresses, we have shorts, and we’re also working on a line for elementary school kids. We have tank tops with the minimum two-inch wide straps.”
The pair will launch its spring clothing line April 30 with a fashion show at Fairfield Inn & Suites, 50 N. Clovis Ave. Doors open at 1:30 p.m.; admission is free. CEAL Clothing will be available for purchase before and after the show.
“It’s kind of like our business launch, so we’re going to be showcasing all of the clothing that we have and we’ll be launching our website right after,” said Harris, a Buchanan junior who focuses on the social media and marketing aspect of the business.
Work on CEAL Clothing — a combination of their initials: Charles Emily Anthony (Charles’ middle name) and Laing — began in November 2014.
Harris and Laing attended Dry Creek Elementary together, but didn’t reconnect until they found themselves both in the 2014-15 Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) hosted by the Clovis Chamber of Commerce.
The clothing line was Laing’s brainchild.
“We grew up in Clovis Unified with the dress code, and we found that for girls, it’s really hard to find shorts that are in dress code. So we decided that we could find a solution to the problem,” she explained.
Their business was a hit.
“We ended up getting the highest investment at the YEA! local investor panel and they flew us to Phoenix, Arizona for the semi-finals and we competed there,” Laing said. The team was awarded $1,200 to start their business.
Emily designs the clothes and purchases the material.
“Everything is cut out by hand in Clovis,” she said. “We’re also providing jobs, by keeping everything local. Our seamstress in Fresno - everything is made by her. Everything is hand made in the United States with quality materials. We don’t make clothes in mass … so the clothing is really unique. For instance, some pairs of shorts we only have one of that style.”
Sizes run from XXS to XL and a new line for elementary school kids is being added as well, Laing said.
“We have plenty of clothing available,” Harris added. “We’re in the process of making more but we do have a lot right now.”
The pair set up a booth at both Clovis Fest and Big Hat Days and sold quite a few items, Harris said.
The entrepreneurs want to keep their prices affordable. Items range from $17 to $21 for separates, like shorts, T-shirts and tank tops, and $20 to $35 for dresses.
Laing and Harris have met with district officials and found them very supportive of their business.
“Since the Clovis community has been having a huge problem with the dress code recently, I think this is a really good way in for us to get more publicity and help Clovis Unified stop all of the ruckus,” Harris said.
The clothing line offers peace of mind for students.
“It relieves stress for the kids, because they’re not going to be worried like, ‘Oh, is this in dress code?’ People hide from the learning directors as they walk across campus,” Laing said. “Before, I didn’t like the dress code at all, but now I’m like ‘Oh! We have a solution!’ (When I went to Buchanan) I would wear some of our clothing to school.”
The company’s website, www.CEALClothing.com, will launch along with the fashion show. The owners hope to expand the business by keeping up with the trends and marketing to surrounding school districts.
“We’re going to see what kind of clothing we can come up with for the dress code that are cute and comfortable for students to wear,” Laing said.
What: CEAL Clothing Spring Launch & Fashion Show
Where: Fairfield Inn & Suites, 50 N Clovis Ave, Clovis.
When: 1:30-3 p.m., Saturday, April 30
How much: Free admission. Clothing will be available for purchase before and after the show. Clothing prices range from $17 to $40.