If you are searching for the epitome of Western couture, look no further than Double D Ranch. What started in 1989 as a garage-based operation in small-town Texas has since flourished to eminence in the Western fashion world. The success of the company is a culmination of the effort, passion, and talent of two sisters, CEO Audrey Franz and Creative Director Cheryl McMullen, along with the support of their family.
The seed was planted in the women from a young age for entrepreneurship and cultural appreciation. “We traveled a lot growing up and were exposed to the ranching industry as well as a lot of diverse influences such as that of Native American and Spanish cultures,” says McMullen. “We also had parents that ran a business of their own, so when it came time that we wanted to start one, Dad said, ‘Go for it.’”
Their mother was an advocate of the venture from the start. “Mom was a big influence on getting us going, and she has always been able to keep us all in check,” says Franz. “She is the one who is always listening and processing things in the background and doesn’t say anything until she needs to.”
Surprisingly, the sisters didn’t have extensive training or education in fashion, but launched the business fueled on passion and vision. “I actually was studying interior design and ended up arguing about drapery lengths and wallpaper and hated it,” says McMullen. “We didn’t have experience and have learned by hard knocks and making mistakes; those are the best teachers and we still make mistakes today.”
Almost 30 years later, and a fair share of lessons along the way, their brand is going strong. The secret to their longevity of success? “I think we love what we do and love working with our family,” says Franz. “We are inspired by a competitive streak and we continue to try and top ourselves and that sheer drive to do it again and do it better or make it more perfect is what keeps us going.”
Another key to the success of Double D Ranch is their unique approach to the details in their designs. “We take clothing and draw upon history and culture in each collection,” says McMullen. “Every jacket has a story, and we aren’t about just throwing products up on the market.”
Expansion is an integral part of the future for the company. “We want to continue to grow,” says McMullen. “We want to do more license efforts like boots, jewelry, hats, and new categories.” Currently, they have collaborations with Old Gringo Boots, Greeley Hat Works, and Peyote Bird Designs, to name a few.
Franz and McMullen haven’t limited their sights solely to product development, but are adding on new efforts to develop young women and influencers in the Western industry. “We don’t know how the mentoring program will work yet, but the idea is to pair young people with experienced women,” says McMullen. “We see a big trend in mentoring and want to work on how we can contribute to that.” They also conducted their most recent photo shoot with a variety of Instagram influencers and are excited to see the results of that effort as it continues to grow.
Mentoring opportunities are just the tip of the iceberg to the community-driven philanthropic efforts the company has. Within their Facebook group, Double D Addiction, a heart for fundraising has been evident on a variety of occasions. Raising thousands of dollars towards cancer cures and hosting holiday fundraising drives are just some of the examples, along with the encouraging and supporting words exchanged for everyday life battles women are able to share on the forum. “Some people have made good friends through the page and support each other in the rough times and the good,” says Franz. “It’s women supporting women.”
Commitment and compassion have helped Double D Ranch thrive, under the guidance of Franz and McMullen. “I am proud that I can come to work and see 15 women who have been here 25-plus years with us,” says Franz. “We work all the time and actually like each other and enjoy it, and we appreciate how rare that is.”
As the women work to plan the 30th birthday party of Double D Ranch this year, they said they are ever thankful for the success and opportunities they have been blessed with over the years. “The fact that we have built a business from the ground up and it is still here almost 30 years later and is a recognizable brand in the industry is amazing,” says McMullen. “We can all work together as a family, have time with our family, and still love the business.”