Fashion designer Laura Jeffers designs a range of clothing sporting Christians slogans from her home in North West England, offering a reminder that faith triumphs over fear.
Question: Last September you created a Christian clothing brand called Stay Lit Apparel. What makes this a Christian clothing brand?
Answer: The key word in “Christian” is “Christ” and the aim is that Christ will be seen through the clothing and content we produce as Stay Lit Apparel. Our goal is to spark this lukewarm generation into starting conversations about Jesus through our clothing.
Do all of the clothing items feature statements? What are some of the slogans?
All of our clothes do feature slogans, some alongside icons also inspired by Scripture or popular Christian songs.
Our best-selling design is “Faith over fear!” This is especially relevant looking at the times we are living in. We also have designs like “Living my blessed life” and “Wake, pray, slay.”
Why did you want to create Stay Lit Apparel?
Honestly, it wasn't all my idea, but I see how God prepared me for this through the direction He led me in.
I have a background in fashion design and also CAD (Computer Aided Design), which is something I studied from high school through to university and beyond — but I never thought of starting an apparel brand.
The first piece of Christian clothing I ever designed was a custom t-shirt for my best friend Ricky's birthday, to go with his ever-growing collection. He made a passing comment about how we should start up our own brand here in the UK but at the time we didn't do anything about it.
For my birthday last year, Ricky bought me my first Christian apparel hoodie imported from the United States and it instantly became my favorite hoodie. My little sister also has a growing Christian apparel collection, but I never saw how much of a witness it could be until I had my own.
When Ricky told me how much shipping alone cost, I was blown away. We talked about designing some t-shirts initially as a trial, and we soon realized that God was leading us to so much more.
We also recognized that every day we wear branded clothes, whether it be Nike, Adidas, Primark, or Next, all of our products represent someone or something. We thought: What if we could represent Jesus in the same way, in the clothing we wear every day?
You are running this clothing line with your friend Ricky Morgan. Tell us about how your partnership works.
Ricky is very much the ideas man; he comes up with most of the designs and I translate them into printable artwork via the computer, as well as process the orders. Collectively we promote and model the clothes. As we both have content creation backgrounds, we also do the photography and videography for Stay Lit together. We make a great team and God has given us skills collectively to create this brand.
Who actually makes the clothes? How are the slogans printed on the clothes? Tell us a little about the technical aspects.
I would also say Ricky is head of quality control; he always loves to produce the best of the best. Last year we went through a number of suppliers trying to find the best one for our clothing and we have landed on a winner.
Our supplier is local and takes care of printing the garments for us. Each design is made to order so we don't hold large amounts of stock. This makes our garments premium-priced but top quality and definitely worth it.
Our products are printed with the DTG (direct to garment) method, which simply means that just like ink from a printer prints directly on paper, our printer prints directly on the clothing. It makes for a high-quality lasting print, ingrained in the fibers. We have had no complaints so far — all our customers love this print style.
Who is buying your clothes? How many items have you sold so far?
We have had customers from all over the world, which really is amazing.
Our brand is not targeted only at Adventists, but Christians as a whole.
We also use our social media and our blog platform to share encouraging Bible studies and testimonies, and we are always on the lookout for more people who would like to share content to inspire others.
Our sales have been growing each month, which is a huge blessing and now that we have the right supplier the goal is to grow our customer base and reach as many people as we can.
You have been an Adventist all your life? Are your church friends buying your clothes?
I grew up in the Adventist church — my local church is the Preston Seventh-day Adventist Church [in Preston, Lancashire, North West England] but Ricky on the other hand didn't grow up in an Adventist home and is the only Adventist in his family. His local church is The Vine in Wolverhampton.
Both our families are very supportive of what we do, and our clothes have opened doors for us to even witness to our family members which has been a huge blessing.
We have very supportive friends and church leaders who also support what we are doing and purchase our clothing. We are really thankful for all the love and support we have received from our network.
How are you marketing these clothes? Who is your target market?
So far, we have used social media as our main outlet to promote our clothing and have recently included some brand ambassadors to help us spread the word.
We have events lined up, as well as a pop-up shop later this year. God willing, we will still be able to go ahead with these projects.
Our target market is Christians aged 18-35 based in the UK. We saw a gap in the market here and we made it our goal to fill it. We do, however, ship worldwide and recognize that people all over the world love our clothing.
Are there other Christian clothing brands out there similar to yours?
Definitely. In fashion there is never anything “brand new.” We have not allowed this to stop us from starting Stay Lit Apparel. We do believe there is a market for us and that our clothing is unique because of the quality and the print style we use. We also have cool designs customers can't find anywhere else.
Stay Lit Apparel is not your first clothing line. Tell us how you started your first brand.
My first brand is Asikara by Laura Jane. I started selling handmade accessories and thrifted charity shop items in 2014 while I was on a placement for university. It was a way to make some money in my spare time.
When I graduated from university, I couldn't find a full-time job so put all my time into making these clothes and accessories. I do believe that God wants to use business and entrepreneurship to draw others closer to Him and I see how by working for myself I am able to use my brands to share the gospel without limitations.
Asikara is still going strong? Where is it sold?
As with any business there are ups and downs, but I thank God for Asikara nonetheless. All my clothing is sold online at asikarabylaurajane.co.uk.
How are these clothes different than Stay Lit?
Asikara is a handmade African clothing and accessories brand; I hand make custom clothing for African brides, bridesmaids, and grooms as well as graduation/birthday dresses and outfits. My best-selling products are African headwraps and bow ties made from limited edition ankara fabrics.
Do you work full-time on these brands? Are you making a living?
I do work full time on these brands and praise God I am still standing. With all the costs involved in starting up another brand, last year was a difficult year, but I know that God is in control. I believe every customer comes from Him and I trust and believe that if this is what He wants me to do, He will continue to sustain me.
Tell us how you got your start in fashion.
God made the way. Honestly, I had big plans and dreams to be working for a well-known fashion company in Manchester, but that never happened.
Every job I have ever applied for never really got past the CV/interview stage. This was disheartening at first, but I can now look back and see how God has been leading and shutting doors so that He could open other ones for me. Although every day can be challenging, in Christ nothing is too hard.
The best-selling Stay Lit Apparel T-shirt “Faith over fears” is actually my life experience. Every time I am afraid, God tells me to choose faith over fears and on the other side of fear I always find the blessing God has been trying to give me all along!
How can we buy your clothes?
If you are looking for Christian clothing and accessories that make great gifts as well as witnessing tools, you can shop our products at www.staylitapparel.co.uk.
For all things African inspired, custom handmade clothing and accessories in a variety of beautiful African prints you can shop these at www.asikarabylaurajane.co.uk
How has the recent global pandemic affected your businesses?
It has had a huge effect on business, especially because we were just gaining traction and the brands were steadily growing. Sadly, I have seen a huge drop in sales because of the pandemic. This is scary because I continue to have expenses.
Asikara has been least affected as I work from my home studio anyway. I recently put my sewing skills to the test and published a mask tutorial on my YouTube channel to help others; this has also really helped business this month.
Our Stay Lit Apparel supplier had to close due to the lockdown, which meant we couldn't print or ship any orders. When I heard this news, I was devastated and I just had to take a moment and cry because it was completely out of my hands and out of my control.
To my surprise this week, I got word that our supplier is back up and running again. Our supplier is practicing social distancing and working with a limited workforce. So, there will be some delays on products, but I am overjoyed that we are back in business. To God be the glory!
I know and serve a miracle-working God! I'm taking each day as it comes and I’m trusting that He is in control as He has said! Joshua 1:9 and Isaiah 41:10 are the Bible verses that are keeping me going in this season. I hope they are also an encouragement to others.
Laura Jeffers, 25, graduated from the University of Central Lancashire, Preston in 2016.
Alita Byrd is interviews editor for Spectrum.
Photos: Laura Jeffers and Ricky Morgan, wearing Stay Lit Apparel and Asikara. Photos courtesy of Laura Jane Jeffers.
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