It is my belief that clothes can send a message, and our personal style says a lot about who we are. Even if you say to me that you don’t care about clothes or follow fashion, that says something (you’re casual, how you look isn’t important, your passions lie elsewhere, whatever your reasons). What I love about fashion (and why I spend so much time writing about it) is the positive effect it can have on our lives. I love the confidence boost that a pretty dress can bring on a bad day. Or the strength I can draw from a message stamped on a necklace. Oh, and of course, I love it the most when it’s being created by local women
Which is why I’m so excited to introduce River Raised Apparel Co. to you this week. As a Christian – and especially as we’re coming upon the Easter season – I am rapidly becoming a big fan of this unique, faith-based clothing line from Kingsburg. The name comes from owner and clothing designer Tarin Brown’s roots, growing up along the Kings River (which she calls “such a cool way of life”), and also from her deep faith in God. The company’s guiding Bible verse is Psalm 1:3, which says “but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit in its season; and its leaf does not wither; whatever he does shall prosper.”
“I’ve always kind of dreamed of doing something like this. I just didn’t know exactly what it looked like,” said Tarin, who started the company last September. “… It was like, ‘OK, it has to be about the Lord,” because that is who I am, that’s what my whole life is about. And I’m a stay-at-home mom so … I didn’t want anything to be taken away from my family unless it was about the Lord.”
The clothing at River Raised all carries underlying messages that come from the Bible, inspired by Tarin’s own life and experiences. If you go through the company’s online shop, Tarin shares the intent behind each design.
‘My whole life, I’ve always journaled along with reading my bible,” Tarin said, “and so I just have lot of things that I’ve gone through written down. I’ve gone back into that, and I just find those specific verses that really hit me in a certain time in life or that I think would be encouraging for other people.”
In addition to the careful thought that as been put into each piece, what sets River Raised apart is the quality and design of the clothing (which comes in styles for men, women and children). This isn’t your typical Christian t-shirt with a slogan printed on the front. The tops (the women’s in particular) come in fitted styles with soft materials and unique designs.
“That [fashion] part – I guess without really realizing it – was really important to me,” Tarin said. “I look at all the shops that do basic tees, and they do such a great job and … I buy a lot of those; I love them. But when it comes to me, when I get inspired by something, it tends to be something that’s more something that somebody would grab any day off of any Anthropologie shelf or off of a J.Crew or even Target.”
The fashionista in me was truly geeking out over the quality of the clothes, which Tarin creates along with friend and fellow entrepreneur Meghan Warkentin. Tarin sources the shirts, long-sleeved tops and pullovers from vendors across the country, and then goes to Fresno-based screen printers Russ Pena and Printasaurus to have the designs come to life.
Popular shirts include a navy blue top with the words “grace upon grace” printed in gold script; a white cotton top with contrasting henley-like sleeves that says “Be Planted” vertically down the back; and soft t-shirts with painted crosses that come in distressed grey and camo (a nod to Tarin’s country hunting and fishing roots).
Just in time for Easter, Tarin and Meghan have created a couple of new designs on a soft pastel, watercolor print. The shirt says “but first .. Jesus” across the heart area (a fun play off of the “but first coffee” phrase that’s popping up everywhere). The sweatshirt (which I’m cozied up in as I’m typing this right now) has a white cross on the front, and “but first … Jesus” printed on the inner side of one sleeve – a subtle reminder for the wearer.
“People see [the cross] and it’s cute, and they might think twice about it, they might not,” Tarin said. “But one thing I’ve really been realizing is when I first started, I thought … when people wear this, it’s going to encourage all these other people. And I started realizing, it’s for the person that it’s on, too. … I want to encourage the person that is buying it.”
Tarin hopes that when the wearers see the messages on their shirts, they will remember the relationship they can have with Christ.
“The importance of [Easter] to me is not just the cross,” Tarin said. “But for me it was just that deeper point where our sins were covered and we were able to have this personal, everyday relationship with Jesus.”
Tarin herself has been encouraged by seeing her designs catch on around the Valley.
“We just have some really great customers that have just taken to it and it’s just spread,” she said. “They wear it and they post about it and they tag us in stuff, and it’s just been really encouraging and it’s just really neat … I know any company’s excited to be successful or to have it go well, but when it’s really people’s hearts that are really being encouraged, for me it kind of adds to the weight of that, just the specialness of it growing.”
You can check out River Raised Apparel Co.’s full line of clothing here on their website. If you’re interested in getting something in time for Easter, I would encourage you to contact Tarin at firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure you get your order! Plus, for a limited time, River Raised is offering a special deal for FresYes readers. Enter the code “fresyes” at checkout for free shipping on your order!
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