Brentwood entrepreneur Sharon Reynolds models clothes from her new company Bryla J Couture, named for her granddaughter. // Photo courtesy of Sharon Reynolds
By MATT BLOIS
Sharon Reynolds started Bryla J Couture — her fourth business — last year after her granddaughter Bryla was born prematurely.
She wanted to leave a legacy for her granddaughter, and hoped to do something that would help other children.
“I thought, I need to do something to give my granddaughter the spirit of entrepreneurship. There’s nothing like it, especially for women,” she said. “I launched the clothing company in her name. I want to leave a legacy behind for her.”
The Bryla J Couture online store opened last week. A portion of the company’s sales go towards the March of Dimes and the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Reynolds said the company targets women who want to dress fashionably without paying exorbitant prices. Her daughter-in-law Latasha Reynolds, Bryla’s mother, will handle most of the day-to-day operations of the business.
As a child, Reynolds learned to sew her own clothes from her aunt. Eventually she started making clothes for other students as well. That was her first business.
“She taught me how to sew to perfection. When I went to school after the summer, the kids would ask me, Where did you get those clothes? All the girls shopped at the same store,” she said. “By the time I was in the eighth grade I was an entrepreneur because I had customers. I was making them their outfits.”
Before starting Bryla J Couture, Reynolds was a mortgage broker and then a real estate agent. When the 2008 recession hit she decided to reinvent herself. She started DevMar Products, a company that produces environmentally sustainable cleaning supplies.
She also created a manufacturing company for cleaning products and DevMar Healthcare Solutions, a company that provides medical supplies, cleaning supplies and donated breast milk to hospitals.
If running those companies wasn’t enough work, Reynolds also recently completed a Master’s in Business Administration at Tennessee State University, focusing on international business.
Those skills came in handy when she started thinking about starting a clothing company. When she was visiting her son in Shanghai, China she toured fabric markets and met with tailors.
Bryla J Couture now gets its clothes from manufacturers in China. Reynolds said she’s hoping to form new relationships with manufacturers in Italy.
The online clothing market is incredibly competitive, but Reynolds said she hopes to find a niche by selling to a very specific market. Female business leaders who want to wear the latest fashions without paying high prices.
She’s also counting on her extensive network to open up new business opportunities. Reynolds said Bryla J Couture is certified through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, and her Rolodex includes lots of other female entrepreneurs.
“I can’t predict the future on this clothing line. All I know is we have the right purpose and the right heart to make it a global company,” Reynolds said. “We’ll continue to learn. We’ll continue to grow. There’s a lot of things I need to learn about online sales and retail … I’m constantly curious about things. As long as I can make that curiosity matter, and have it make a difference, I feel like that’s why I’m here.”