- Associated Press - Sunday, February 28, 2016

LEWISBURG, W.Va. (AP) - With a bit of imagination, a love of home, a knack for design and a bit of entrepreneurship, Weslea Coles and Amanda Reed recently launched a new clothing line in downtown Lewisburg.

Since October, women have flocked to Coles’ Sunflower Soul boutique on Washington Street to see what all the fuss is over the friends’ Pretty White Trash line.

The idea for the line started three years ago when Coles, who says she knows the name could be a bit off-putting - her initial idea was to simply call the line White Trash, but she added Pretty to “calm it down” it a bit - was forced to downsize her life.

“I surrendered my home in bankruptcy and had all this stuff I didn’t need,” she said, explaining she, her four kids and husband moved into the back area of Sunflower Soul. “So I jokingly said, ‘Maybe I can open a store and call it ‘White Trash,’ because at that point, it was sort of trash and I just wanted to get rid of everything.”

Coles mentioned the idea to photographer Amanda Reed, who now rents studio space in the back of Sunflower Soul, and asked if she might be interested in pursuing the business opportunity.

“I got cold chills and just thought it was a great idea,” Reed said.

When two years passed with no progress, Reed prodded Coles a bit and things got a bit of a jump.

“I said, ‘If you want to explore it, I’d love to be your business partner,’” Reed recalled. “And we just kind of grew from there.”

The women say they knew they had a good idea in place, but started small - with some T-shirts and a few words.

Those words always represent West Virginia in some way - “Love Moonshine & Mountains”, “Love Music & Mountains” or shirts with “Country Roads” and “Mountain Momma” defined - and the products always include their custom Pretty White Trash angel wings.

“We have a friend who has this line of energy spray and I kept thinking about angel wings for her, but she did the spray and it wasn’t what she wanted,” Coles said. “So I drew the wings again and showed Amanda (Reed) and she liked it and we incorporated the wings on everything.

“I realized the wings are meant for us.”

Amanda added, “I think they’re pretty spiritual. When Wes said ‘Pretty White Trash’ at lunch, I saw her eyes light up and I got chills and I think our angels we’re telling us that’s what we were supposed to be doing. Those wings were for us.”

“It’s exciting,” Coles said.

“It’s a journey,” Reed added. “Angel wings will be tied to everything we do.”

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Pretty White Trash has taken off quickly. Both the “Country Roads” and “Mountain Momma” shirts sold out within a week and Coles and Reed even appeared as guests on a holiday cooking segment of Good Morning Charlotte where they made a PWT holiday mix and showed some of their shirts.

“It was a lot of fun,” Coles said. “We got a lot of customers from that.”

The women have shipped merchandise locally as well as to Hawaii, Florida, North Carolina and Oregon. Of course, their drop-in business is booming as well as people follow the line on social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram.

Melody Lester, of Princeton, dropped in Tuesday morning to purchase a “Love Moonshine & Mountains” shirt as well as the popular “Wild & Wonderful” shirt.

“I follow them on Instagram so I get to see all the cute stuff they post,” she said, explaining work brought her through the area but the shirts brought her downtown. “They’re cute West Virginia shirts. You can’t go wrong.”

Pretty White Trash launched its online store www.pretty-whitetrash.com Tuesday afternoon and both Coles and Reed say they are excited about the direction of their venture.

“I’d love to have our stuff in travel centers and Tamarack,” Coles said.

“Pretty White Trash take over the world,” Reed said, with a laugh.

At the end of the day, Reed said it’s important that their pride in their home state shines through in everything they do.

“We were born and raised in West Virginia and we want to do something that empowers women business owners,” she said. “There’s a lot of us here in West Virginia doing great things. We really want to put to put West Virginia in a better light and express what it is to be a ‘mountain momma’ or grow up on a country road and define those things for people with the products we love.”

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Information from: The Register-Herald, https://www.register-herald.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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