SEBASTIAN McCALL, 39, of Northern Liberties, owns Charlie's Jeans, on Market Street near 2nd in Old City. He also has a smaller store on Chestnut Street near 17th in Center City. In May 2010, McCall launched his own designer denim brand, which retails for $165 and up, and comes in a variety of cuts, sizes and colors.
Q: Tell me about your shop and your own denim brand.
A: We opened in Northern Liberties 15 years ago and moved to Old City. Denim is the best place to be, because you interact more with the customer. It's a different challenge to make jeans fit properly. I wanted my own jean. I didn't know where to begin, but I really knew the fit. One of my vendors allowed us to do a fit, and after that I got the bug .
Q: Tell me about that.
A: We went to California, set up shop there and started manufacturing our own jeans.
Q: Why California?
A: Every brand we carry is made there. If your seamstress is sick, you can find another. Our denim manufacturer is in North Carolina. We brought them in, sampled 100 fabrics, model after model. I wanted jeans that would satisfy all our customers.
Q: Who are your customers?
A: They're probably 80 percent women, ages 22 to 55. They're professionals, judges, lawyers, doctors, people in the pharmaceutical industry. Our customer comes from all over - New York, California, D.C. and Boston.
Q: Why is your brand special?
A: We go from size 00 to 18. I wanted a brand that women could easily fit into. So if she says, "I want to feel sexy, slim, I want my jeans to fit perfectly and I want made-in-the-USA quality," we have that.
Q: How many employees?
A: Ten. We have a two-man staff in California that handles manufacturing. I'm out there as needed, and I do all buying and designing.
Q: I hear you're called the Jeans Whisperer.
A: I guess it comes with making shopping easy. I grew up in a hair salon and my mother always said, "It's not how she looks when she walks in the door, watch the smile on her face as she leaves."
Q: So how many pairs of your brand have you sold?
A: We've sold 16,000 pairs of Sebastian McCall jeans, and that doesn't include 2013. That's over $2 million in sales since I launched. About 75 percent of my jean sales are my own brand.
Q: How much do Sebastian McCall jeans cost?
A: My jeans start at $165 and go up to $200. For a premium jean made in the U.S.A., the cheapest it can retail for is probably $150.
Q: What's next for your brand?
A: We'd like to be in Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom. I have samples, 20 pieces, sitting in both. We'll see. I'd say 90 percent of our customers who go into a dressing room with a pair of my jeans purchase them.
Q: That's off the charts.
A: I love making my customer happy every time she walks in. They know they're going to walk out with jeans that fit perfectly.
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