PUBLISHED: 4:24 PM on Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Ragdoll's pursuing a dream

Photo by Rosie Milligan
  Alana Ballam-Schwan, left, and Rebecca Canaday are pursuing their dream with their shop Ragdoll.
It's all about fun while bringing fashion to Juneau at the same time for the young women at Ragdoll Boutique.

Ragdoll is the new clothing store in Downtown Juneau boasting modern, fancy fashion. Ragdoll opened in May on Marine Way, between Paradise Cafe and Shoefly.

Rebecca Canaday and Alana Ballam-Schwan, both 22-year-old artists and life-long Juneau residents, opened Ragdoll to fulfill their lifelong dreams of designing, creating and being self-employed.

The young entrepreneurs thought about their business for years and have been working towards opening a store.

"We needed to open this. We planned on it together for years, since we were 16," Canaday said.

Ragdoll features clothing and accessories for young-hearted, casual and hip Juneauites.

The women sell jewelry and art by local artists, dresses and coats by Kodiak Coats, which is locally manufactured in Juneau and retail several other clothing lines.

Ballam-Schwan silk-screens her original prints on clothing, which is branded as "Exquisite Corpse."

Ballam-Schwan said she is excited about her process and happy to see the positive response with her work.

Photo by Rosie Milligan
  A shopper takes a look through the selection of clothing at Ragdoll Boutique, located at 245 Marine Way.
"I am thrilled with how well my clothing and designs have been accepted by the community," said Ballam-Schwan. "I feel like we are doing much better than I ever expected."

Canaday draws and stencils her designs on clothing, labeled "Olive." Both women sew and design clothes and accessories. The artists are also starting to make hand painted clothes, coming out in the fall.

Ragdoll is unique because of their young talent and artwork.

"We have a lot of creativity," Canaday said. "A lot of our stuff is hand-made. No one else is doing this in Juneau."

"It's refreshing to see new shopping options in Juneau," said Anna Gange-Hawes, a 21-year-old visiting home during her summer vacation from university. "This town is so limited at times. I am so excited to see another store with cute styles here."

The young women have been preparing for a business for years. It has taken them a lot of work to get where they are now.

Ballam-Schwan just finished a bachelor's degree in visual arts at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

The university taught her artistic techniques and she had the facilities to teach herself how to silk screen.

Ballam-Schwan also credits her drive to the inspiring city of Victoria.

"The shops in Victoria were so inspiring. I couldn't wait to take Becca around and show her. It inspired us both to see cool shops like we wanted to open," Ballam-Schwan said.

Canaday has become a self-taught artist.

She has had several art shows in Juneau featuring her acrylic paintings. Canaday worked for Kodiak Coats, learning how to make patterns, sew and run a small business.

Her experience gave her the opportunity to be a successful business owner herself.

The women said they were at first afraid of opening their own business.

They said it was a lot of stress and organizing of details but after they did it everything just worked out and seemed so natural.

"I am a lot more confident than before we opened," Canaday said.

"Now that I have done it, it all seems so easy. We are a great team and everything seems like a perfect fit.

"I want to expand and do more with our business."

The women of Ragdoll have been keeping their store interesting by bringing in new flavors.

They try and feature a new local artist for the First Friday gallery walks and order new things, constantly changing their inventory.

Ragdoll has been strongly welcomed by the community, neighbors and friends.

"Having them around adds a different element, bringing a young crowd around the area," said Joan Deering, Paradise Cafe owner and Ragdoll's closest neighbor.

"They are great. And sweethearts."

Ragdoll Boutique plans to stick around, and the new owners have invested their whole hearts in the business and can only believe it will get bigger and better.

"We could not imagine doing anything else.

"We could not imagine doing it if we did not love it so much," Canaday said.