RA Apparel Offers Job Training and Unique Fashion

August 8th, 2012

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Roman Acevedo of Ra Apparel.

Roman Acevedo runs his company by his “3 P’s Rule” – to be for the people, for the planet and for profit. He knows that it takes more than a profit to run a successful company. It also takes contributions to the community around it.

“I come from San Diego, and I remember when you didn’t go downtown there. Then they worked to revive it and now it is huge. Phoenix is going in that direction and we wanted to be a part of it,” Acevedo said.

With that community-based philosophy in mind, Acevedo ventured into the world of fashion design and merchandising under the label RA Apparel, the clothing collection under the RA umbrella, which houses eight unique product lines, including RA Yoga

“Ra in Egyptian mythology means a new beginning, and that is what we are trying to do here,” Acevedo said. To create the various collections under the RA Apparel label the company partnered with the Arizona Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) to offer a learning and job opportunity to people who are not able to find work.

Acevedo and his team have created a six-week training program where participants are taught a variety of skills to prepare them for a job in the fashion industry.

“They [the students] get evaluated every two weeks, so if we see something isn’t working we can try something new before the six weeks are up,” Acevedo said. “We always want to  try to find the right fit.”

Although there are many skills that the students are able to work on, the first skill that everyone who goes through the program must work on is the production of children’s clothing. The pieces made are donated to children in need through UMOM New Day Centers. Each child then receives an entire week’s worth of clothing, at little cost to the company.

Acevedo said, “It’s a great feeling when you impact someone like that.”

After the students succeed in making the children’s items they are then able to work towards making other specialty items for the brand. Skills learned include silk-screening, sewing, fabric-dying, rubber-cutting and many more – all of which are used to create the items in the Ra Apparel collection.

The collection includes a swimwear line (Sun Kissed), a yoga apparel line (Shock-ra), belts made from recycled bike tires, T-shirts, children’s wear, leggings, hoodies, grocery/summer bags made from recycled banner signs from the Phoenix area (from the Downtown Phoenix Partnership banner program), shoes made from recycled materials and their upcoming organic skin & hair care line (Serene).

“We really try to use organic materials when possible,” Acevedo said. The products used to create the belts and soles of the shoes come from recycled bicycle and car tires, donated from various shops around the valley, including PHX Bike. The fabrics used in the clothing items are all from the U.S., and the students hand dye those fabrics to create custom colors.

Along with the custom dyed fabrics, the swimwear line is also a custom process where a customer can come in and get measured, then they are able to pick out the fabrics and beads for their own one-of-a-kind swimsuit.

The RA Apparel brand is rapidly growing and is currently available in their studio (11 W. Washington St., Suite 120) and will soon be available online and through local shops and boutiques.