EA Apparel on Huffington Post

By Lori Weiss

Growing up in the small rural town of Stuttgart, Ark., Liz Ratcliff was the ultimate girlie girl. While her older sister spent her days down by the river, collecting tadpoles and making mud pies, Liz was inside — dressing her dolls in resort wear, decorating her walls with photos from her mother’s fashion magazines and directing her architect father on how to run a miniature train through Barbie’s Malibu Dream House. She was just waiting for the day when she was old enough to make everyone feel as beautiful as Barbie.

“My friends and I would play dress-up and they all wanted to be the shoppers,” Liz recalled with a twinkle in her eye. “I thought that was great, because I just wanted to be Coco Chanel!”

But a series of jobs in the spa industry would ultimately take Liz in a different direction, putting her on the fast track to a fancy job with a high-end hotel chain in Los Angeles, as the director of spa development. She was making women feel beautiful — just not quite the way she had imagined.

“I’d see people light up after their first massage or facial,” she said, “and it was as if their lives had been transformed. I know it sounds crazy to say that something as simple as buying a new eye cream can change your life, but clients were taking the time to love and honor themselves — and that can be pretty powerful.”

Liz quickly became known as a trendsetter, working with world-famous interior designers — including Philippe Starck and Kelly Wearstler — and opening innovative urban spas and resort properties around the world. Her reputation was so invincible that even when the recession began crippling the tourism industry, few people believed it could ever touch Liz. Until it did.

“I watched four of my friends lose their jobs,” Liz remembered, “and dozens of people at my own company were let go, but I thought the worst was over. Then I got the call. It was like going through a drive-through. They just sat me down and said, ‘It’s the economy.'”

“I had the wind knocked out of me,” Liz continued. “So I got in my car and just started driving, not even knowing where I was going. And when I finally got home, I didn’t want to leave. I was like a recluse in my house. Nothing motivated me. I’d try to get pumped up, but I wanted to feel sorry for myself — and I did that really well.”

And to make matters worse, fashionista that she was, Liz realized she didn’t have a thing to wear.

“I wasn’t going to put on a pencil skirt and a pair of Louis Vuittons to sit around my house or run out to get a cup of coffee,” Liz said. “So that gave me even more reason to never leave home. You know how you see cartoon characters throwing everything out of their drawers — screaming that they have nothing to wear? Well, that was the scene at my house.”

But it was in the middle of that mess that Liz found her way back to her dream. Indeed, it was only when her world (and dresser drawers) were turned upside down, that she would begin to find her way back to who she always wanted to be.

“When my girlfriends finally got me out of the house, I started paying attention to what people were wearing,” she said. “I saw a lot of schleppy sweats and Juicy Couture. There just wasn’t much out there for women in their forties.”

So as Liz began thinking about what was next, she found herself, once again, pulling photos out of magazines and sketching pretty pieces that she wished she had in her wardrobe. Recruiters were calling, trying to seduce her back into another spa job, but all she could think about was her newly awakened desire to design.

“Something just told me to keep moving forward,” Liz explained. “It would have been much easier to go back to what I knew, but I thought if I could create a collection that you could put in a suitcase and travel with easily — one that you could dress up or dress down — it would actually do really well in spas. And I knew if I created something I believed in, my former colleagues in the spa industry would believe in it, too.”

But as Liz quickly learned, it’s one thing to dress Barbie and an entirely different thing to dress real women.

“I went to Magic, which is the biggest fashion trade show in the world,” she said, “and it was the most overwhelming experience of my life. There were 10,000 booths! I needed a road map to get around. But I kept asking questions. If you ask for help, people will give it to you. You just have to admit you don’t know everything.”

With a little guidance, Liz refined her sketches and found a factory that would take those designs and transform them into patterns and samples. Starting out small, she created only seven pieces, and instead of buying full bolts of fabric, she bought remnants of the softest fabric she could find — a knit spun from bamboo.

Liz named her company ea apparel, those initials signifying that her clothing can be worn “everywhere” and “anywhere.” And then she went directly to the world she knew best, shopping her samples to spas.

“I got my first order from the Four Seasons Westlake in California — a $25,000 order — and I went straight into production,” she said laughing, “which I quickly learned is what you’re not supposed to do. You’re supposed to wait until you have lots of orders! In fact, I was in such a hurry that when the factory called and said they needed to use a heavier fabric, I said yes, sight unseen.

“The fabric turned out to be even more fabulous, but because of shrinkage, each piece required a little bit more length — which they assumed I knew. But I didn’t. So I never changed the measurements on the order. When the jumpsuits arrived — my most expensive signature piece — they looked like they were designed for flood waters.”

By that point, Liz had already gone through her savings and sold her car to pay for a very expensive photo shoot of her product line. But she had to fix the jumpsuits, so she cashed out her 401(k).

“I was in. Way in. And maybe that’s what motivated me to keep pushing. I was in too far to start looking back.”

As it turns out, the extra fabric Liz added to those jumpsuits gave them a unique design, which in the end, made them her top seller.

Today, ea apparel can be found at spas around the world, and this fall, Liz will be introducing a new line, with designs that resemble what her mother used to call her “six o’clock wardrobe” — pieces that can be worn comfortably out to dinner just by adding ballet flats or a great necklace. And she’ll be renaming her company — proudly — the Liz Ratcliff Collection.

“Sometimes you’ve got to be in your sh*t, to get out of it,” Liz said, knowingly. “Bad things happen to good people all the time. The question is whether you let that define you or inspire you. Is it a curse or an opportunity? You get to choose.”

“Losing my job was the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said softy. “I’ve never been happier than I am today.”



Liz on CBS LA

ea apparel press release

A balance of glamour and comfort — ea apparel launches in los angeles season-free clothing for skin and soul

LOS ANGELES, CA (January 2010) Practical glamour is the bottom line behind ea apparel, a new season-free clothing line for women. Designed to be worn Everywhere Anywhere, ea bridges the divide between comfort and elegance with a uniquely modern spirit.

A sharply focused collection of versatile, sophisticated separates, the brand speaks to all women who crave comfort without compromising style. Each of the Seven styles that make up the debut line is designed to become an indispensable wardrobe essential – coveted and reliable when you want to be certain to look and feel good day or night – whether at a fivestar resort, in town or at home. These are clothes for living.

The energy behind the brand belongs to Liz Ratcliff, ea´s founder. A longtime spa industry executive, Ratcliff created the line to meet her own needs and those of other likeminded urban women who demand high style and prefer it come with high comfort. ea aligns with the mindset of the spa lifestyle, a wellness aware way of living that seeks balance and individuality.

“I want women to feel their own beauty when they wear these clothes. Looking good is as much about being at ease in your own skin as it is about feeling good in what you´re wearing,” says Ratcliff. “ea disappears when you put it on. It´s so light you can feel naked – not in the way that makes you feel vulnerable but in the sense of just being yourself, knowing you look great. It makes sexy easy.” The whole collection fits in a carry–on and has enough variety and attitude to take a woman from downtown yoga to penthouse cocktails.
ea´s spa–inspired roots are felt not only in its relaxed luxury but also in the thoughtful choice of textures and appreciation for skin and body. The core fabric is a supple, bamboo, ethereal jersey. The construction techniques were selected to completely eliminate any rough edges. Even the care label invites the garment´s owner to “Please remove me.” And the cut of each piece is a non–restricting celebration of the body – just revealing enough to be alluring. “I wanted to create a wardrobe for my life &ndash and for my friends,” says Ratcliff. “These are pieces we can reach for and depend on for being comfortable and sexy without ever being too obvious about either emotion.”

Leveraging its unique status and appeal to a wellness lifestyle, ea apparel is being sold in the country´s most prestigious spa and resort boutiques. The line is being launched exclusively in The Spa at Four Seasons Westlake Village and will soon be available to a select group of luxury spas and resorts. In addition, ea may also be found online at its own website, www.eaapparel.com. Prices for the collection range from $50–$220.

The lightweight jerseys used for Collection 01, the first in ea´s season-free portfolio, drape, seduce and envelop the body in a variety of cuts that hide, reveal and layer to suit your personality and style. The 7– piece line is sold in a stress–free, minimalist palette of black, white and heather gray. In addition to the line´s core separates, Collection 01 also introduces signature accessories, including a versatile scarf–hood hybrid that effortlessly provides a dramatic flourish. Suggested retail prices for the debut collection range from $50 – $220.
Crafted in Los Angeles with techniques and textiles more often used for highperformance clothing, ea aligns ease of wear with personal expression. ea enhances a woman´s most important senses – her sense of self, body, style and being one with the world. ea apparel – Live In It.

About ea apparel

ea apparel is a Los Angeles–based clothing company created to provide a woman with chic wardrobe essentials that feel and look amazing – Everywhere Anywhere. Launched by spa executive Liz Ratcliff and Grant Ponder, a financial analyst and hospitality veteran, the seasonfree line debuted at retail in January 2011. Sold in prestige spas and resorts across the U.S. as well as in hand–selected specialty stores, the line is also available directly from its own website, www.eaapparel.com.

For more information, please visit ea apparel online or contact info@eaapparel.com.

Collection 01

Debut collection from ea apparel focuses on versatility and allure

LOS ANGELES, CA (March 2011) A new hybrid of wardrobe essentials for women, ea apparel makes its debut statement with total clarity. Adaptable, elegant, functional and sexy, the pieces that make up Collection 01 are a clear vision of the life and feeling embodied by the new brand, based in Los Angeles. In this 7–piece assortment of covetable separates and signature accessories, women who desire high style without giving up high comfort will find a wardrobe designed to work Everywhere Anywhere.

ea Collection 01 consists of brand–distinguishing silhouettes that hover, caress and frame different parts of the body, leaving room for every woman to find her best shape and express her personal image. Inspired by the fluid side of 70´s fashion, all of the pieces share a yin–yang attitude of quiet drama, pairing precision with movement.

ea signature cuts include gently draped backs, dramatic sleeves, and wide, easy–toslide– off–the–shoulder necklines. Leggings, harem–esque pants and a small, stay–put boy short ground the looks. Other slip–on items include a strapless jumpsuit and long dress, both with flexible waistlines and endless possibilities. Topping the group, ea´s signature statementmaking accessories include a hooded scarf designed to provide infinite options for draping, baring or cocooning.

The line is cut in a soft, supple jersey made from organic bamboo fibers. There are no rough edges against the skin: Flat–lock seams and heat transfer labeling make for a delicious feel. Collection 01 bamboo jersey done in a simplified palette of basic black.

Founded by longtime spa executive Liz Ratcliff, ea is dedicated to providing women with clothes that instill sensual comfort, confident ease and an edgy attitude. Reflecting her deep knowledge of wellness – acquired during various posts with the Viceroy, Four Seasons and St. Regis hotel groups – the brand taps into a wellness–aware mindset – one that seeks balance in work and life, and in body, mind and spirit. ea touches a woman´s skin and soul.
“ea means so much to me – as an entrepreneur and as a woman. Starting a business is liberating – just like these clothes,” says Ratcliff. “They let you express yourself. They´re practical, versatile and just amazing to wear. Trust me. I am living in them”
Collection 01 is numbered rather than attached to a time of year to acknowledge its season–free approach: the pieces can virtually be worn any time of year and speak to the modern reality of seasonless dressing and global travel. In fact, the entire line can be packed into a carry on, and with a woman´s own signature pieces – whether easy flats or steep Louboutins – she can easily flow from morning yoga to late–night dinner.
Launch partners include The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, The Spa at Four Seasons Los Angeles, Kinara Spa in West Hollywood, and W Retreat and Spa in Vieques, Puerto Rico. ea apparel is also available through its own website www.eaapparel.com and at a select group of luxury spas and resorts. Prices for the collection range from $50 – $220.