BILLIAM, a custom jean company based out in Greenville, South Carolina, was founded by Bill Mitchell in 2009 right out of his family’s basement. Over the years since opening, Bill’s business has flourished and has continued to thrive as fashion lovers all over the world find him. Today we’re going to take you behind the scenes of BILLIAM and their two-man show where they showcase the process of ordering your own custom jeans and the work that goes into the designs we love.
Follow along below for the transcript version of our interview with Bill Mitchell from BILLIAM
Hey guys, my name is Bill Mitchell, from BILLIAM Jeans, we are a custom jean company based in Greenville, South Carolina, and we’ve been making jeans since 2009 for people, and essentially what we do is we take your measurements, we show you different fabrics you can choose, and then we build you anything you want from scratch.
Now the process of buying a pair of jeans from us is you schedule an appointment to come into our store; you come in, and we will take your measurements, and then we’ll show you different fabrics that you can choose, and then we’ll sit down, and we’ll talk about the different style you want.
So if you wanted something that would be skinny, slim, straight, layered, baggy, whatever that is, we can kind of make those creative decisions after we get your measurements. Then it takes about a month to have us produce that pants for you. then we ship it to you, or you can come into the store and pick it up.
If you don’t live in Greenville and you can’t make it into our shop, then we can do all of this over Facetime. So you can set up a time to Facetime with us with a measuring tape, and I will walk you through the entire process as if you’re here in the store but from the comfort of your own home.
What inspired you to start sewing?
So in the seventh grade, I took a home ec class, and that was the first time I learned I could use fabric and a sewing machine to build things from scratch, and it was a really fun, powerful moment where I had built something that I was proud of.
In college, I started tailoring clothes for myself, and I realized I could start tailoring things for other people that they could be proud of. So I needed a product that I could make that I could do that with and scale, so I chose blue jeans, and the service of tailoring clothes to people or making things bespoke to solve people’s problems was a great joy for me. I’ve spent the last 15 years doing that, and it’s a very rewarding process to get to not only make things from scratch but make things that benefit other people’s lives.
What was it like opening your first shop?
So opening my first shop was a really strange experience because I had been jeans at this point in my parent’s basement for a year and a half, and it got to the point where it was strange to have people that I didn’t know coming to my parent’s house, down to their basement fitting them for jeans, and so I knew I needed to find a place that was my own.
It kind of got to the point where I knew I needed to open up a shop. I opened up that first store and it was just a really fun experience to have something that was my own and to create an atmosphere that I could custom-tailor to the experience that I wanted to give people. Now I’ve had three or four different shops over the course of 15 years, but I’ll never forget that first shop and how fun of a time it was to do that.
How has life changed as a small business owner?
Okay, so life as a small business owner is a very strange life because, in so many ways, every day looks different. So you know, for me as an artist and as a business person, I have to stay focused and really choose what I’m going to do each day. To me, really having a concrete process of how I’m going to make things, and the different machines that I’m going to use, allows me to take an order and have a good time making that order so I can actually have a successful day.
To have JUKIs in my room that are all working, and the technology is allowing me to produce this product in a way that’s very easy is a really nice process.
What is in store for BILLIAM Jeans?
So BILLIAM has always been, essentially, a service that we offer to people, and that service through making custom jeans is a very challenging thing to scale, but there’s a different technology that I’m very curious about and am investing in currently that would allow us to make it easier to make custom jeans for people without them having to come to the store.
The future of BILLIAM is adding as much technology as we can to the fitting process so that you could essentially download an app, scan yourself from home, and do everything online. You never need to come in, and it’d be a very easy thing to just have your jeans made without having too much of a stressful experience.
In a world of evolving trends, what is your most and least favorite jeans style?
Okay, so in the world of evolving trends, specifically in jeans, you’ve seen so many things. From low-rise jeans, skinny jeans, really baggy jeans, kind of like the JNCO million pockets kind of thing. For me, I’ve always really enjoyed the people of the ’70s. I really love the flair of it, I love the colors, the style, that you know you just give this sense of freedom to fashion back in the day. So, for me, I think the most fun trend to be a part of is making a flare jean. Right now, doing it custom, you can kind of put the knee at the right place to get the flare to open up at the right proportion for somebody, and that is a lot of fun to do.
I say the least fun thing for me to make would be something that is very low-rise skinny jeans, probably. That would probably be like the very Britney Spears ’90s thing, I don’t know if that’s my thing right now. But ill probably regret saying that in 5 years.
How can a customer find BILLIAM?
So the easiest way to find us and to stay updated with all the different things we love to talk about and share with you would be Instagram. BILLIAMJeans at Instagram is the best place. if you want to see photos of the work we’ve done, you can go to our website, which is BILLIAMJeans.com, but to me, the single primary place that I like to communicate with people is through Instagram at BILLIAMJeans.
To learn more about BILLIAM visit their website or Instagram! Thank you for joining us today in getting to know Bill Mitchell and his shop BILLIAM Jeans. We hope you get a chance to visit the next time you’re in the Greenville area of South Carolina.