It is truly remarkable that having a lot is not necessary to accomplish much. Companies like this one featured for Creative Spotlight: volume two, show that tenacity is as important as talent. Luckily, this one-woman-show has both elements working in her favor. Talent plus tenacity equal a tornado of creativity. I was fortunate enough to catch wind of this designer through Instagram. As a fellow creative, I believe it is of dire importance that we put art everywhere. From tattoos to fashion, originality is a tough thing to achieve since all has been done under the sun but this does not dissuade me from trying because, at the very least, an unoriginal concept can be done in an original way. All may have been worn at one time or another but the same apparel can always be worn differently. That’s the beauty of fashion being the revolving door that it is. The best of fashion has variety, versatility, and a vibe that is sentimental. The broadest example of this would be denim. The material has held together short-shorts and the waists of mom-jeans alike and it has wrapped itself around Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake in the early aughts.
Truth be told, I rarely donned denim apart from jeans for the longest time because I felt it was ubiquitous. I like it, I spent my childhood in it but with the surge of denim trends, I struggled to find a denim look that worked for the modern version of myself. Then I found the work of Rayna Parks, the founder, owner, and sole employee of Dragon Denim, an online store that sells up-cycled custom-painted jeans and jean jackets. Parks started the business after graduating from the University of Florida in 2018 to supplement finances while pursuing a career in acting.
Just over a year ago is when the business began. First, with a love for thrifting clothes and second, everyday inspiration. A friend of hers had a Levi’s jacket she was trying to sell but there was drawing on the back. “I, like many before me, had seen something cool on Pinterest and decided to give it a try!” Since then, she has evolved from just painting jackets (with a mixture of acrylic and fabric paints) to working with lace in jackets, restructuring jackets and jeans, and even some t-shirts. Being that clothing is such an interesting artistic medium with endless materials, I had to ask, why denim?
A PSA from her personal account @beatupsneakers
“Denim is really rugged and tough so it’s extremely versatile. Jackets, jeans, quilts, hats, purses, anything can be made with it.” Not to mention “it is a classic, never ever out of style.” The versatility and longevity of denim are what makes it timeless. Something this creator values being an avid wearer of the material herself, working or not.
I am one of those people that just chills on their couch in jeans.-Rayna Parks
From classic to nostalgic, to pop-culture kings, Dragon Denim offers something specific for each person. The expansion has led her to be creative with her own brand name featured on hoodies and sweatshirts along with her custom creations.
Company growth is thrilling and tiring. There are some days when wearing all the hats (fashion pun not intended) becomes exhausting. However, when you’re a self-proclaimed control freak it’s the best way to do business. “I am kind of a control freak so it’s nice to be able to control every aspect of the business but it does get tiring. I do have a “denim dealer,” as I like to call her, who thrifts and sources clothes regularly and gets me jackets. Some of my ideas also come from other people, too. My grandma told me I should do baby Yoda, for example. Other than that I am designing, thrifting, washing, cutting, painting, gluing, lacing, taking pictures of, posting, packaging, and shipping these jackets on my own!”
Finesse is in the details.
Having limited time and dozens of orders to complete at once can be overwhelming but every grueling hour of stripping, bleaching, painting, and sewing is rewarded when customers receive what they were promised. Her only wish is that she would see more of the glee she puts on her customer’s faces. It’s what makes it all worthwhile. The videos she was sent of people opening her products on Christmas morning made her tear up each time. Pop singer, Lorde is another customer that caused tears of happiness when she wore a Rayna Parks original from her sister company, Old Soul Quilts on stage. The singer draped herself in the effervescent quilt that pictured her Melodrama album cover like a cape.
Old Soul Quits, Dragon Denim, and the designer herself are very young and big dreams are in the future but in the now, the focus is customer appreciation and balance so that each step on the mountain climb to success can be enjoyed.
Just as she enjoys the work she creates, I hope the readers of Mindless Peace enjoyed this second edition of the Creative Spotlight series. Since my custom clothing item has arrived it’s been a prized piece in my wardrobe. Not only does the black denim jacket represent what I love while keeping me warm, it has so many pockets. Seriously, the amount of pockets in that single garnet is staggering. It is the reason I wrote Secrets.
We’ll end with a message of the utmost importance from Dragon Denim:
“I use a mix of different acrylic and fabric paints, so please stop asking me.” She laughs and then continues, “honestly, art isn’t just meant for museums. Put creativity all around you. On your clothes, your walls, your body. Everywhere!”
Follow @dragondenim on Instagram to see the latest items. Shop now: dragondenim.com