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Photograph by Curtis Cartier
Miss Natural: Jaylyn Brendlen in Doja's storefront on Portola Drive.

Business Unusual

Doja Clothing has a big job: to save the economy and look good doing it.

By Rula Al-Nasrawi

IN NOVEMBER 2008, Jaylyn Brendlen finally decided to live her dream and start her own clothing company. There was just one problem: how to do it without exploiting children, women or the people of a Third World country.

So she decided to begin her own venture and do things differently. Doja--which stands for Defining Our Jobs as Americans--is a clothing company based on a sustainable model, using materials grown and produced in the United States as well as American labor, with the goal of supporting the economy and improving manufacturing standards in the clothing industry. Brendlen's one-woman company also prides itself on good environmental practices.

"I've always been interested in having my own business, but I wanted to do something to give back to the world or society in some way," Brendlen says. "Make a positive change."

She says the economic troubles that began last September helped shape her philosophy.

"A lot of people lost their futures, and that's kind of what I wanted to structure my company around, so it's a way of giving back, of making something sustainable." Brendlen says. "I wanted to leave a positive footprint.

Brendlen designs the screenprinted patterns and buys the clothing pre-made from American companies, in both the traditional textile areas of the Eastern seaboard and the West Coast.

"A lot of the girl stuff is made in California, and I buy a lot from back East," Brendlen says. "Right now I don't cut and sew any of the clothes myself. I dig around for other companies."

The clothing line, which ranges from men's and women's wear to hats and hoodies, has a laid-back California style that keeps the line both trendy and casual.

Doja sells online and has a location on Portola Drive near 41st Avenue in Santa Cruz, where Brendlen provides custom screening and graphic design as well.

She plans to expand Doja's organic line and eventually add hemp to the mostly cotton clothing.

"The real issue at stake is not that we need to wear organic clothing, but that we need to put food on the table and support our jobs." Brendlen says. "The more local we make something, the more we're going to care about it."

By all counts it seems to be a calling for Brendlen. "I've traveled all over, and if I was living in another country I would encourage the same thing," she says. "And even though I'm a small company, I'd like to think I can make a big impact."

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