How Rivers & Bridge Clothing Company Came to Be
Believe it or not, this is nothing like what I thought I'd be doing out of college.
In fact, I wholeheartedly believed that I would have my own law practice and working with musicians within the entertainment industry. At least from the 4th grade until halfway through my junior year of college I thought this. But life doesn't always work out the way we plan, right? I think God has a sense of humor in this way -- or at least in my story.
While I was still planning to go to law school, I could not decide what undergrad degree I wanted to pursue. I tried 5 degrees, and none of them I liked. I tolerated the last one, journalism (the irony of this blog), because I thought it would help with the writing lawyers have to do. This was the program I was pursuing when I went on a mission trip the end of my sophomore year at UGA. It was during this time, and just after Ben & I started dating that I realized if I wanted a life and a family with him in a small rural town, then law may not be the path for me after all.
I came back to school that fall with the intention of finishing with a journalism degree, but had no idea what I would do with it after graduation. At a big school like UGA, you have to apply to most degrees to officially be in the program, and that was the semester I was supposed to be applying. To my luck, I was declined. Not because I didn't have the grades for it, but the dean of admissions for the journalism school told me it was because it was obvious to her team in my essay that I had no idea what I was going to do with a journalism degree, and they had to give priority to students who knew their path.
I was at a loss. It was too late to apply to any other degrees that semester, and if I wanted to apply to something the next semester, I would have had to take a full course load of unnecessary classes just to make me eligible to apply.
After a long meeting and field of interest quiz in the career center, I learned that I only fell between two fields -- law (a given) and fashion & textiles. Never in my life would I have considered that area. After speaking with the counselor in charge of the Fashion Merchandising program, I learned that not only would I be exercising the creative side of myself, but the degree consisted mostly of business and textile science. I would be able to market myself to future employers as someone with a general business knowledge -- better yet, I did not have to apply to this degree since it was such a small program! Since then, I stuck with Fashion Merchandising, and began the program that following spring.
To my surprise, I was very interested in everything I was learning. I asked a lot of questions, I met with professors in office hours, and I was teaching my own family about their fabrics. I was having fun and learning more than I bargained for!
It was when the pandemic hit that I decided I wanted to own my own store. I had worked in retail since I was 16 -- I just never thought I would be the type to run my own store. I knew that if Ben and I got married, I would be stuck in a small town where I would have little to no chance of working in the fashion industry -- just some other type of business. But I knew that fashion is what I wanted! My only option was to create a space for me in the fashion industry myself.
When applying this idea, I had a couple of options in the surrounding areas to Ben's work to open my own store. However, Ben took me on a date in his hometown, and I fell in love with the growing downtown area! At the time, there was very little retail, and no men's shops. Soon after, Rivers & Bridge was born. A retailer focused on bringing men and women classic styles and timeless looks.
Since then, Ben and I married in October of 2021, and we will be celebrating 2 years of Rivers & Bridge in September! It has been the wildest dream and the most fun I've ever had. It is readers like you that have made it a reality. Thank you for your support!
Ansley Renfroe Holden
Rivers & Bridge Clothing Company