New Kent children create inclusive clothing line

Take that, Abercrombie & Fitch.

Remember a couple of months ago when A&F was in the news for its exclusionary marketing?

A couple of children from New Kent County have responded.

Meghan Coleson, 13 and a rising eighth-grader, and her brother James, 11 and a rising sixth-grader, hatched a plan to create and market their own clothing brand. Last month they went online with “XLuding No One.”

So far the company offers only T-shirts with the corporate name. They’ve sold about 100 so far, and they’re getting requests to add caps and other gear.

XLuding No One is a bona fide corporation, with articles of organization filed at the State Corporation Commission, domain names registered online, and papers submitted for trademark protection.

To refresh your memory, remarks made by A&F CEO Mike Jeffries in 2006 came to light again earlier this year. In that seven-year-old interview, Jeffries was asked about Abercrombie & Fitch’s marketing strategy and said, among other things, “A lot of people don’t belong (in our clothes), and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

In this era of social media saturation, the resurrected remarks — and A&F’s continuing refusal to sell XL and XXL women’s sizes — gained global attention. The backlash was swift and widespread.

Jeffries, in what was widely regarded as a half-hearted apology, said the company is against any discrimination and that he regrets that his words were “interpreted in a manner that has caused offense.”

In a recent interview, Meghan said that besides disagreeing with the A&F approach she wonders “why they were ruling out a lot of sales.”

James, shaking his head, said, “Excluding people isn’t cool. Including is cool.”

Besides launching their website (xludingnoone.com), the sister and brother duo, both competitive swimmers, have drawn up a budget and found a supplier.

They also met to solicit advice and to discuss a potential partnership with Tricia Woodson, president of online retailer Baby Fanatic. She has carved out her own apparel niche with Baby Fanatic, which makes and sells team-branded sports gear for tots and toddlers.

Meghan and James also have gotten advice and a financial stake from their dad, Chris Coleson, an entrepreneur himself. You may remember that in 2008 he gained international attention when he lost more than 80 pounds in 200 days on an all-McDonald’s diet.

Eating the fast-food company’s salads and other low-calorie offerings, he got down to 195 pounds. He has regained much of the weight. He’s back up to nearly 250, Coleson said last week.

Ironically, he said, the gain started when he gave up fast-food fare and went vegetarian. “Too much cheese and pasta,” he said.

Meghan and James are aware of their father’s struggle with weight, Coleson said, and “that may have been part of the motivating factor here for their business.”

Bakery on the rise

June Bergeron has signed the lease for space in the Rutland Commons Shopping Center at 9369 Atlee Road in Hanover County for a Great Harvest Bread Co. franchise. The opening is projected for September.

The Montana-based company, founded in 1976, has more than 200 bakeries nationwide. None are in the Richmond area.

The bakeries grind premium Montana wheat berries into whole-wheat flour daily. The company says the fresh-ground flour gives Great Harvest bread its rich taste, nutrients and density. The bread does not contain preservatives, additives or dough conditioners.

Bergeron, who has enjoyed baking all her life, moved to Virginia in 2007 and worked in the insurance industry for nearly three decades before this endeavor.

“We’re excited to bake and share fresh, healthy bread and sweets with our friends in the greater Richmond area,” she said, adding that she’ll work full time in the bakery “with a team of great bakers and friends.”

High five for Pie Five

Richmonders Jeff and Deborah Percey have an impressive record with their Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchises and they’re gearing up to take on a second brand — Pie Five Pizza.

Among the first Five Guys franchisees, they now have two stores in the Richmond market — in the Shops at Willow Lawn and on West Broad Street near the Innsbrook Corporate Center – and four in Maryland.

Pie Five Pizza Co., a subsidiary of Texas-based Pizza Inn Holdings Inc., has awarded up to eight franchise units to the Perceys. The couple’s plan is to have their first Richmond-area Pie Five open in early 2014.

Pie Five Pizza has no connection to Five Guys Burgers.

The pizza company currently has 10 locations operating in Texas and one in Utah — with an aggressive growth plan. The addition of the Richmond market brings the total announced franchises under contract to 72 in six states.

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