Steamboat Springs artist brings her creations to life with Defiance Clothing Co.
The great thing about artist Nancy Jeffrey’s work is it looks great hanging in a gallery, but also can grab attention on the clothing her customers wear.
“I wanted to start locally in Colorado and build in my two communities where I live,” said Jeffrey, who splits her time between Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs. “I’m hoping I can build recognition from that point.”
Defiance Clothing Co. features patterns from Jeffrey’s fine art and drawings digitally printed on items such as leggings, track pants, yoga shorts, athletic shorts, sports bras, tank tops, athletic shirts, fashion shirts, bucket hats and shoes. Her shoe collection includes slip-on sneakers, slides and high tops.
“I do a lot of painting in acrylic,” Jeffrey said. “I work on canvas, but I also work on board, which is finished typically with marble and plaster, then I paint on that. I also do highly detailed drawings.”
Jeffrey is also an interior decorator who has shown her paintings and drawings at several local galleries over the years. She said Defiance Clothing Co. is another way for her to express her art and showcase it in a different way.
“I still have a place (in Steamboat), and I’m probably there like half the time,” said Jeffrey, who also owns studio2eleven. “I still have a lot of jobs going on in Steamboat.”
Jeffrey said she started Defiance Clothing Co. several years ago, but advances in the technology used to print her art on the clothing have her pursuing her textile roots.
“Textile design was my first job out of college. … Back then you painted your designs in glass, and that was turned into however many screens of color and it was screen printed,” Jeffrey said. “Now there’s a whole new industry that I became a part of when I started doing digital textiles probably a little more than 10 years ago.”
That’s when she started digitally printing and turning her fine art and photography into clothing and other items.
“It’s a really versatile medium,” Jeffrey said. “When you screen print, you can only do so many colors. Digital printing is basically like taking an image and being able to print that on products, whether it is yardage, a fabric or wallpaper. I’ve done notebooks, coffee mugs and so many different things. It’s a different process completely, and you don’t have to produce it in a certain way. Anything that you can turn into a JPEG or a PDF can be printed.”
Jeffrey still does all her artwork by hand before making high-resolution images of her work. She then turns it into the repeating patterns that create layers of texture. She can also do color fades, which would be hard to do in a traditional style of printing.
When she first started creating clothing, Jeffrey was making silk scarves, leggings, dresses and tank tops. Today she sells plenty of other items including shoes and bucket hats.
She said the advent of third-party fulfillment companies, which handle the inventory and take care of shipping, also has benefited Defiance. New technology that allows Jeffrey to see what the final product will look like before she orders it has been good for the business.
“When I first started, I really had to try and visualize what this stuff was going to look like because I would send the digital file and a month later I would get a bunch of samples,” Jeffrey said. “What is nice about the company I work with now is that I upload my textile files and it’s done as a mockup, so I can actually see that textile on the products.”
Jeffrey said that as the company grows, she also wants to make sure it stays true to its Colorado roots by offering products that fit the fun and active mountain lifestyle, but can also offer a unique look that allows the customer to stand out.
Jeffrey said Defiance Clothing Co. does not have a brick-and-mortar store, but customers can see what the company offers at DefianceClothingCo.com/.
“Colorado is the kind of place where a lot of companies get born and do really well,” Jeffrey said. “Just to be in a community like that where people are looking for things that are unique and unusual is great.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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