Posted: Feb 26, 2013 12:49 PM by Chet Layman
Updated: Feb 26, 2013 1:51 PM
BELGRADE - Have you ever really wanted something but were not be able to find it in the store? Lori Leonard had that problem back in 2008. Now, she's running a multi-state business that grew out of her solution.
It's called Ju Ju Gear, a business tucked away in a commercial center behind Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport that turns old clothing into new fashions.
The business started because Leonard wanted a fashionable hat to wear skiing and couldn't find one, so she made one. The hats sold well, but she wanted more, so she started turning old T-shirts in to new skirts, and Ju Ju Gear was born.
"We just started playing with T- shirts, traditionally cutting up loads of T-shirts, then it expanded to using all sorts of fabrics, including rugby shirts, chef's pants, just about any fabric you can imagine can now go in to a Ju Ju skirt," she said.
Leonard started by selling the skirts at farmers' markets. She now also travels to trade shows, has a growing internet catalog sales site and a storefront in a Minneapolis area mall along with the original factory tucked away behind Bozeman Yellowstone International airport.
Leonard now employees as many as 40 people between her Belgrade factory and the Minnesota store. She also has plans to grow to even more locations.
"I've always had the dream that this was going to be big. I know I can do it. The secret to the success has been the team that you hire. My people work their souls for me," she said.
Leonard also credits the Made in Montana office for helping her get Ju Ju Gear off the ground, not only with support but also some funding to help get her clothing in to a larger market.