Fayetteville women’s apparel company Lauren James facing foreclosure sale due to loan default

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 8,378 views 

Lauren and Lance Stokes, co-founders and owners of Fayetteville-based Lauren James Enterprises (photo by Beth Hall)

Fayetteville apparel firm Lauren James has been recognized for being one of the fastest growing businesses in the U.S.

It now appears the company may have grown too fast.

According to a legal notice published Sunday (July 29) in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Lauren James Enterprises Inc. is facing a foreclosure sale due to a loan default.

The notice references the lender as LJ Apparel LLC but does not mention the amount of indebtedness. LJ Apparel is managed by Michael Chung and was incorporated Friday (July 27) by Andrew Je, according to filings with the Arkansas Secretary of State.

The public auction will be held Aug. 7. It will start at 9 a.m. at Lauren James headquarters at 104 N. East Ave. in Fayetteville.

The multimillion-dollar women’s lifestyle brand, known mainly for its T-shirts, dresses and swimwear, was founded in 2013 by Lance Stokes and his wife, Lauren. Though primarily an online retailer, Lauren James also operates two Texas stores in Plano and Southlake.

A spokesman for the company gave the following statement to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal on their behalf.

“We have a responsibility to our customers and obligation to our creditors to position this company for continued success. We believe this is the best means to maintain the quality and excellence customers expect from the Lauren James brand.”

The foreclosure of the company will involve the sale of all “equipment, inventory and general assets,” which are subject to a first priority lien in favor of LJ Apparel LLC.

“[Lauren James] is in default of its obligations to the lender and therefore the lender is pursuing a foreclosure sale on the collateral in satisfaction of the debt,” the filing states.

A more specific asset list will be made available on the day of the sale.

In May, the Business Journal reported Lauren James closed its Fayetteville store on Dickson Street on May 1 and had outsourced its distribution to New Jersey-based Dotcom Distribution, a company that fulfills and ships orders for e-commerce companies, primarily in the apparel and beauty/health space.

The partnership with Dotcom also resulted in Lauren James closing its 60,000-square-foot warehouse and shipping facility in south Fayetteville, primarily used for distribution, and reducing its workforce of 100 employees by nearly half.

Lauren James was recognized in August 2017 by New York-based Inc. magazine as the fastest-growing company in Arkansas and one of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. The company had revenue of $13.2 million in 2016, according to Inc., a three-year increase of 6,010%.

Lauren James is also involved in a legal fight with First Security Bank of Searcy, which filed suit recently alleging the business owes several hundred thousand dollars in outstanding loan payments.