New vintage clothing store in
Madison, Ind., getting lots of attention
Owner London offers styles with a whimsical touch
(June 2019) – Betty Jeffries, located at 129 E. Main St. in Madison, Ind., has been a dream in the making for owner Ralph London. “My aunt owned a dress shop for 30 years. I grew up in that. My interest in fashion goes way, way back,” said London, 37. “I always had aspirations as a child to work in fashion.”
After attending design school, London spent 10 years in the industry before moving to Louisville, Ky., where he formed his own line. “I released my first line, Betty Jeffries, in 2012. It’s evolved into several different things over the years. I started with accessories and designed silk scarves.”
His line is named after and in honor of his mother, who died in 2011.
Photo by Sydney G. Wilson
Owner Ralph London names his new clothing store after his late mother, who died in 2011.
Once Betty Jeffries was launched, London began seeking ways to introduce his brand to unfamiliar faces. “I needed a creative way to get my brand in front of people. I started a fashion truck in 2015 that I ran until this year,” he said. “I would travel to different events and festivals all around the country.”
Along with unique clothing finds, Betty Jeffries also houses an art gallery in the shop’s basement featuring works artist Maria Napoli, who has most recently been based in Louisville. Napoli is originally from Philadelphia, PA.
Betty Jeffries is a recent addition to Madison’s downtown shopping options. London himself is new to the community but has quickly found it home. “I first visited Madison in October of last year. I was here just shopping around but fell in the love with the town. I came across this building, which was for rent. I told myself I would just look at it, but I fell in love when I did.”
“We decided to try a pop-up shop at Christmastime to introduce ourselves to the community, and it went really well.”
London said he was faced with the tough decision of whether to continue running his Louisville store that opened in 2017 at Louisville’s Oxmoor Center. “It just didn’t make sense to keep both open, so I’m solely based in Madison now.” London said he officially completed his move from Louisville to Madison in March.
Shoppers visiting Betty Jeffries can expect to find unique, whimsical clothing with a personal touch. London makes many of the pieces himself and considers his mother as his main influence. “My designs are inspired by my mom as a working woman in the ’60s. They have that retro feel but are also very current and modern. I find a lot of inspiration from the ’50s and ’60s. I like to think of my store as a giant closet for my mom.”
Betty Jeffries also carries true vintage pieces, which is another passion of London’s. “I find vintage clothing all over. I love to go vintage diving. I also encourage people to bring any vintage they have – all those clothes they haven’t worn in 20 years. I love vintage because it’s unique. All the pieces have a story.”
met London during his time in Louisville and has been selling her own artwork for 27 years at various art festivals in Kentucky and beyond.
“I’ve always wanted to sell my work and continuously look for new ways to do that,” said Napoli. “My first job was running a gallery in New Jersey. I try to understand all elements of selling art. I’m always wanting to grow as a painter and figure out ways to run a successful business.”
These goals led Napoli to Madison, where she, like London, fell in love with the community.
Napoli first visited Madison nearly eight years ago when her artwork was featured in an exhibit at King’s Daughters’ Hospital. “I loved the small town vibe, the arts focus and the gallery base. I loved all the coffee shops where people would gather,” she said. Napoli returned to Madison a few years later to feature her art at Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art and felt the same way.
She and London decided to band together and help each other achieve their aspirations of having a place to settle and create. “We did the pop-up shop together back in December, which is an idea that’s always been in the back of my mind. That really made it clear that Madison is the place I’ve been looking for. I knew that Madison could be a foundation, so I’m not on the road anymore,” she said.
Napoli describes her artwork as a visual language. “It’s both logical and emotional. I like to convey the day to day, come and go experience of life through my work. My goal is for people to look at a painting of mine and feel understood.”
She is currently developing art classes that will be open to the community, including an art camp for kids that will take place this summer. “The goal is to get kids involved in something creative, while also giving mom and dad a little time to breathe,” she said.
Napoli will also provide basic art classes, such as a “paint your pet” class for adults who are interested in growing as artists. More information on the classes and Napoli’s art can be found on her website: www.marianapoli.com.
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